Are Moissanite Rings an Alternative to Diamonds?

As consumers seek ethical and affordable alternatives to diamonds, Moissanite emerges as a compelling contender. This gemstone, with its unique properties and lab-created availability, offers a distinctive appeal. Ever the practical ones, we wanted to take an in-depth look at the growing popularity in moissanite rings, and how they compared to both real and lab grown diamonds. Are they a viable alternative? We wanted to know, and we share our research here.

Proposing to a loved one should be the most romantic thing you ever do. You are asking to level up your relationship, a commitment to building a future together in married life, offering emotional and financial security and stability together. Not just a milestone in your story as a couple, it’s an event intertwined with words of romance, undying love, and a symbol of this intention. Yep, there is an undeniable focus on a expected dazzling piece of jewellery; the engagement ring.

If you could picture the ideal proposal, it’s possible that it could involve a sitting on a blanket under a moonlit sky, holding hands under the stars, talking about life ambitions, perhaps dreams of starting a family together. Suddenly a shooting star shoots across the sky, and you close your eyes to make a wish, and open them to see your partner on one knee, holding opening a box containing an engagement ring made from that very meteorite. Too good to be true? Well, did you now a moissanite ring has origins in that very stardust, sent from the heavens above.

Back in 1893, French chemist Henri Moissan was examining rock samples from an Arizona meteor crater when he found what he thought were diamonds. It was actually in 1904 he realised it was a naturally occurring silicon carbide, an extremely rare mineral later named as Moissanite in his honour. But silicon carbide was not new, Swedish chemist Jöns Jacob Berzelius in suggested that a natural silicon-carbon bond may exist as far back as 1824, but it wasn’t found until 1958.

The irony is, in a natural form it is far rarer than diamonds which makes it a very precious material in it’s scarcity. And naturally this exclusivity didn’t fit the diamond industry marketing narrative. It also didn’t help that it had even been synthesized artificially as carborundum by Edward G. Acheson in 1891 when trying to make an artificial diamond. Again ironically, it was Henri Moissan who actually created one of the first lab diamonds in 1893.

So while the idea of a ring made from the stars is the romantic version, all Moissanite Rings are actually synthetic reproductions. But this actually is the reason for an increase in popularity as a cost-effective and ethically sourced alternative to conflict diamonds. Its rising acceptance and increasing demand is not just the ethical aspects, they are far more affordable too. So, if you are thinking about popping the question and shopping for cheap engagement rings, read on.

Moissanite close up

What’s so Special about Moissanite Rings?

Moissanite can withstand pressures up to 52.1 gigapascals, making it one of the hardest substances known, just behind diamonds. The crystalline structures are very similar, and held together with strong covalent bonding. On the Mohs scale of mineral hardness, a diamond is scored the highest at 10. For the record, this is how other precious gems rank.

Name Hardness
Diamond 10
Synthetic Moissanite
Ruby 9
Sapphire 9
Zirconia
Topaz 8
Aquamarine 7½ – 8
Emerald 7½ – 8
Amethyst 7
Quartz 7

 

So while diamonds and their lab versions are renowned for their unmatched hardness, scoring a perfect 10 on the Mohs Scale, moissanite also possesses impressive durability. This makes both of these gemstones suitable for everyday wear. The durability comparison between these two stones is close, with the diamond ring slightly edging out due to its slightly superior resistance to scratches.

Both gemstones exhibit excellent longevity, retaining their lustre and value over time. Their high wear and tear resistance makes them ideal choices for daily use, particularly for engagement or wedding rings that are seldom removed.

dimonds ready to be placed in ring

Can you tell the difference between moissanite and a diamond?

 

What are the Aesthetic Differences Between Moissanite and Diamonds?

Okay, you are probably wondering what difference toughness really makes. And you are right, unless you don’t want your moissanite scratched, which can by something harder (clue is above, it can only be dented by a diamond). So I assume appearance is likely more of a factor.

Enter the high refractive index of 2.65 – 2.69, which means Moissanite has more sparkle than a natural diamond. To some this isn’t necessarily a good thing, but all gems dull over time and the plus side is you will need to get the toothbrush out less. My advice would be to see them up close before purchase, especially as this light refraction can give off a slightly different colour too.

There is no denying that even to the naked eye, moissanite and diamonds offer distinctly different visual appeals. Diamonds are known for their classic brilliance and more subtle and sophisticated shine. Moissanite displays a greater sparkle factor due to its higher refractive index, resulting in increased light dispersion and a characteristic play of spectral colours and unique fiery rainbow flashes. The visual distinctions between the two are profound, particularly in terms of colour reflection and light dispersion.

Price Difference Between Moissanite vs Diamond

Okay, so unless you are friends with a Gemologist, who is really going to know the difference? Well your wallet will.

Most people know the 4 c’s of carat, cut, colour and clarity. So using a round diamond, with a good cut, colour D, and clarity VS1 at a well known online retailer for a price comparison:

  • Natural diamond (0.90 carat) : £2,795
  • Lab Diamond (0.90 carat) : £1,470

A 0.90 carat diamond is roughly 6.3mm.

A 6.5mm round Moissanite Super Premium (colourless, falling within the D-F range) is £545, and as the size grows, so does the price disparity. There is no question you get more value from a Moissanite engagement ring which can be a big difference for a larger solitaire.

It could be argued that diamonds are an investment, with engagement rings often passed down through generations. But bear in mind, the resale value is actually zero unless you actually sell it!

Regardless, the significant price difference between the two synthetic gemstones is noticeable too, and there is logic to consider savings vs the aesthetic. If you are considering lab created diamonds, then you should look at all alternatives.

The decision ultimately depends on individual preferences and financial circumstances. But I’d suggest consistency across the bridal set.

For the record, moissanite is available in all the same cuts, including Oval, Emerald, Cushion, Pear, Radiant, Princess and Marquise.

What is the Difference Between Moissanite and a Simulated Diamond?

The key difference is composition; a lab diamond is 100% crystallised carbon (C), made to replicate the same intense heat and pressure to bond the carbon atoms together in a controlled environment, a few million years quicker than the natural version under the Earth’s mantle. Moissanite is composed of silicon carbide (SiC), a compound made up of silicon and carbon atoms

Is a Moissanite Ring Right for You?

Only you can make this decision. Moissanite rings are the most widely used diamond substitutes on the market today for good reason. They sparkle, as hard as rock, and far less expensive than diamonds. They are so similar to diamond that most people can’t tell the difference.

And if buying ethically sourced engagement rings is important to you, then knowing the conflict-free origins and minimal environmental impact is an appealing factor for those keen on sustainability.

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About Author /

Emma is the editorial director and has been with the brand since 2021. She is is a writer and editor with over 5 years of experience covering Weddings, Fashion and beauty.

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