Spot the Difference: Moissanite vs Cubic Zirconia

If you are thinking of popping the question, or are starting to look into your dream engagement ring, you may be feeling all sorts of emotions: happy, excited, overwhelmed, confused, and perhaps even a little bit lost in the research process. From cubic zirconia to diamond simulants to zirconium oxide all the way to the Moissanite engagement ring, you may be wondering how you are supposed to make such a decision with all of the diamond alternatives for engagement rings that are available today. But have no fear: today we are going to break down the differences between Moissanite vs. cubic zirconia in order to help you make the most informed decision for your engagement ring. Both options have pros and cons, and it's important to be aware of  these before making such an important, lasting decision. To begin, let's start with a deep dive into diamond simulants.

Moissanite vs Cubic Zirconia


What is a "Diamond Simulant?"

To start, a diamond simulant is the term used to refer to gemstones which are not natural diamonds, but are a diamond "look-alike". They are made to look like a natural diamond, however their composition is different and is more ethical than a natural diamond or other natural gemstones. An example of a diamond simulant would be a Moissanite engagement ring or cubic zirconia engagement ring.

What is Moissanite?

Moissanite is a lab grown diamond, or a diamond simulant, which looks like a diamond, acts like a diamond, but is not a diamond. Moissanite was first discovered in 1893 in Arizona by Henri Moissan, who was studying rock samples in the wake of a meteor crater. Originally, Moissan thought the crystals were real diamonds, however it was later discovered the crystals to be silicon carbide. In its natural form, Moissanite is extremely rare, therefore this diamond substitute is lab created so that many people are able to enjoy the brilliance of this stone in their engagement rings. In many ways, it is extremely difficult to spot the difference between a real diamond and this type of lab grown diamond, as they look very similar. However, in many ways Moissanite is superior.

On the Mohs scale of mineral hardness, Moissanite rates a 9.25 out of 10, making it perfect for daily use. These synthetic diamonds are made for wear and tear, will not scratch easily, will not chip or break and are designed to last. Diamonds score a total of 10 on the Mohs scale of mineral hardness, making Moissanite the second hardest stone next to natural diamonds. When looking to include Moissanite in your engagement ring, you are able to have any carat weight possible, giving you the same flexibility and the options you would have for your engagement ring as with any other gemstone.

One difference that differentiates Moissanite from other gemstones, is the refractive index. The refractive index is the measurement in which various gemstones are able to bend light. Moissanite has a higher refractive index of 2.65, whereas a natural diamond scores 2.42. This means that both gemstones score high, however you will get a better sparkle with a Moissanite stone. Therefore, many people are choosing Moissanite for their engagement ring as they are durable yet have a brilliant sparkle.

An important factor that makes Moissanite appealing to many couples is the fact that this diamond alternative does not support unethical mining practices. Today, people are not wanting to purchase conflict diamonds to make their special day, and Moissanite is a great substitute for that. Moissanite is available to individuals at a lower price than diamonds, with more brilliance and fire than its counter part. This lab created stone is great for everyday wear, and you can rest assured that you are not supporting the infringement of human rights and dangerous working conditions. This is a great option for many modern couples.

What is Cubic Zirconia?

moissanite engagement rings

Cubic zirconia is a hard, synthetic, diamond substitute which looks like a diamond from afar. Cubic zirconia is the cubic crystalline form of zirconium dioxide - this does appear in nature, however is extremely rare, so the majority of fine jewelry pieces made today with cubic zirconia, including engagement rings, are predominately lab created.

On the Mohs scale of mineral hardness, cubic zirconia scores below Moissanite stones, which rate 8-8.5 out of 10. Although the cubic zirconia scores below Moissanite stones, it still has a higher score than a large majority of gemstones. This means that cubic zirconia may scratch, chip, or become damaged easier than a Moissanite stone; however they are less expensive to replace should this happen.

Another difference between Moissanite vs. cubic zirconia is the refractive index. Cubic zirconia stones have a refractive index of 2.17, which is relatively low compared to Moissanite. This means that cubic zirconia does not have the same brilliance or sparkle as other gemstones - the sparkle has often been described as dull compared to other stones. However, it is a great option for couples or individuals who do not necessarily want a sparkly or "showy" ring.

A factor which is important to note when comparing Moissanite vs. cubic zirconia is the price tag. Generally speaking, cubic zirconia is significantly cheaper than Moissanite. This is because cubic zirconia is massed produced, unlike Moissanite which is created through a different process which does not allow for mass production. A one carat, cut and polished piece of cubic zirconia typically runs around $20.00, and a two carat piece of cubic zirconia runs around $30.00. This is vastly different other lab created diamonds, and diamonds themselves, as they run much more expensive and also have some sort of resale value. It is important to note that there is no resale value when it comes to cubic zirconia.

Overall, if you are interested in purchasing lab diamonds for your engagement ring, there are many great options available to you. It will ultimately be up to each couple to determine whether Moissanite diamond alternatives or cubic zirconia diamond alternatives are right for them. Happy shopping!