Moissanites vs. lab grown diamonds: What’s the difference between them?

21. February 2024

Some new alternatives to traditional diamonds have emerged in the world of jewelry and luxury. You may have already heard of moissanites and lab grown diamonds which have now become an attractive option for jewelers and consumers alike. However, while they may look similar at first glance, there are key differences between them that need to be understood. Let’s take a look at their characteristics, the way they are made and the type of jewelry that these gems are best in.

The secret of moissanites: Silicon carbide turned into a gemstone

Moissanites are laboratory-created gemstones made from silicon carbide that are renowned for their unique optical properties, durability, ethical production and very affordable price. Compared to other naturally occurring gemstones, natural moissanites are incredibly rare, which is why we only see lab-created moissanites on the market. Moissanites were originally discovered by Henri Moissan in 1893 and soon became a very popular alternative, especially as a gemstone for engagement and wedding rings.

The unique optical properties of moissanites

Moissanites attract attention with their remarkable optical properties. In addition to their high clarity, they also stand out for their extraordinary brilliance which is 18% higher than that of diamonds. The originality of moissanites is evident in their ability to refract light twice. This quality causes the light rays passing through the stones to refract and break down into spectral colors, causing iridescence.

Although diamonds stand out as being the hardest gemstone, moissanites take second place at 9.25 on the Mohs scale. They outrank even rare gemstones like sapphires and rubies, making them a durable stone that’s ideal for everyday wear.

Lab grown diamonds: The sparkling miracle of carbon

Innovations in technology have revolutionized the jewelry industry and now present an exciting alternative to traditionally mined diamonds. Manufactured in a controlled laboratory environment using the latest methods such as the High Pressure, High Temperature process (HPHT) or Chemical Vapor Deposition (CVD), these beautiful gems fully match the brilliance, beauty and durability of natural diamonds. Using these advanced scientific techniques, carbon atoms are precisely arranged and subjected to intense pressure and temperature, mimicking the process of natural diamond formation. This innovative approach not only creates stunning lab diamonds, but also offers a sustainable and ethically conscious choice for those concerned about the ethical implications on society that are associated with traditional diamond mining. Ultimately, the process results in elegant looking jewelry that has all the qualities of its mined counterparts at a fraction of the price, all the while it also leaves behind a smaller environmental impact.

Identifying laboratory diamonds

How do you visually verify the authenticity of lab grown diamonds? Distinguishing between lab grown and natural diamonds requires a superior knowledge of gemology. One key factor is to turn your attention to any inclusions or bubbles in the stone. Natural diamonds often exhibit subtle imperfections, whereas lab grown diamonds tend to be nearly perfect. Another test you can try at home is to submerge the gemstone in water – while imitation stones tend to float on the surface, natural or lab created diamonds tend to sink quickly due to their higher density. However, only professional gemologists in reputable jewelry stores would be able to give you a guaranteed answer.

Certificates of authenticity for lab grown diamonds

Another way to check the authenticity of diamonds is with a certificate. Each lab grown diamond is carefully examined, identified and its information is stored either in a certificate issued by a gemological laboratory, or you can check its identification number on the institution’s website. The certificate contains important information about what are known as the 4Cs of diamonds – the cut, color, clarity and carat weight, giving a complete picture of the diamond’s quality. Trusted institutions such as the GIA, IGI, Gübelin Gem Lab and SSEF issue certificates that confirm the quality and authenticity of a diamond. This authenticity can be further checked via a unique identification number that is laser engraved on the diamond’s girdle.

The basic differences between moissanites and lab grown diamonds

The main differences between moissanites and lab grown diamonds lie in their composition, hardness, brilliance and origin. Let’s take a closer look:

  1. Composition: Lab grown diamonds are chemically identical to natural diamonds and consist of pure carbon atoms arranged in a crystal lattice. Moissanites are a lab created gemstone made of silicon carbide.
  2. Hardness: Diamonds, whether natural or lab grown, rank at the top of the Mohs scale with a rating of 10, making them the hardest known mineral. Moissanites, although also quite hard, are slightly lower on the Mohs scale at 9.25.
  3. Brilliance: Moissanites and lab grown diamonds both have exceptional brilliance and clarity. However, their optical properties differ. Moissanites tend to show more flashes of color, all the way up to the color of a rainbow compared to lab grown diamonds.
  4. Origin: Moissanites, unlike laboratory diamonds, also occur in nature, though very rarely. Lab grown diamonds are exclusively produced in laboratories and mimic the natural process of diamond formation under controlled conditions.
  5.  Price: Moissanites are more affordable than lab grown diamonds.

What is hidden inside the gemstones: A comparison of moissanites and lab grown diamonds

While lab grown diamonds and moissanites are popular alternatives to natural diamonds, they have different compositions and structures. Lab grown diamonds have the same chemical and physical properties as natural diamonds and are therefore identical. In contrast, moissanites consist of silicon carbide, a compound of silicon and carbon, synthesized in a controlled environment to mimic the brilliance of diamonds as closely as possible. Despite their visual similarity, the atoms in moissanites have a different structure to that of laboratory diamonds.

The durability of lab grown diamonds and moissanites

The hardness of gemstones is a critical factor in their durability and scratch resistance. Diamonds, which are renowned for their exceptional hardness, top the Mohs scale at 10, making them the hardest natural substance known. This hardness translates into exceptional durability, ensuring minimal scratches or damage during everyday wear. Moissanites score a 9.25 on the Mohs scale, making them slightly less scratch resistant compared to diamonds. Both gemstones are however very suitable for use in jewelry.

The affordability of moissanites vs. laboratory diamonds

Moissanites and lab made diamonds are often chosen as more affordable alternatives to natural diamonds so let’s talk about the pricing of each. A single carat of moissanite ranges from $300-$2,500, while the price of a comparably sized lab diamond is around $1,200-$2,000. The price difference also lies in the costs to produce them: moissanites are usually cheaper due to their lighter weight and easier production process.


Ethical considerations and sustainability

Both moissanites and lab grown diamonds are representative of ethical and sustainable production processes in the gemstone industry. Moissanites are synthetically created in a controlled laboratory environment, bypassing the environmental and ethical issues associated with traditional diamond mining. Their production has minimal environmental impact and eliminates issues associated with mining practices. Similarly, laboratory diamonds are also produced using advanced technological processes that mimic the formation of natural diamonds. By avoiding the need for mining, both moissanites and lab grown diamonds contribute to reducing the industry’s carbon footprint.

Moissanites and lab diamonds in jewelry

Now let’s say you’re in the process of choosing the perfect gift and can’t decide. Enter the world of moissanites and lab grown diamonds, two captivating alternatives that add a modern twist to timeless jewelry.

Moissanites, which are produced through innovative laboratory processes, excel in a range of jewelry designs. Their fiery brilliance makes them an excellent choice for engagement rings, earrings and pendants. In engagement rings, moissanites rival diamonds in their sparkle and are a stunning centerpiece that symbolizes eternal love and commitment. In earrings and pendants, their sparkling allure brings a touch of pizzazz to any ensemble and elevates any day-to-day outfit.

On the other hand, lab grown diamonds, which have the same chemical composition as mined diamonds, are extremely versatile. From classic solitaire rings to intricately designed bracelets and necklaces, lab grown diamonds blend seamlessly into any jewelry piece. Their ethical origins and same brilliance as natural diamonds make them the ideal choice for those who want both sophistication and sustainability in their jewelry selection.

The beauty of these gemstones goes beyond their appearance – they allow their wearers to make ethical and eco-friendly choices without compromising on elegance. Their presence in a variety of jewelry pieces not only enhances the beauty of the design but also reflects a commitment to sustainable luxury.

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