Lab Grown Diamonds vs Moissanite: What’s the Difference?

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Lab-grown diamonds vs moissanite, let’s break it down fast:

Both lab-grown diamonds and moissanite are commonly used as affordable alternatives for natural diamonds. For a relatively lower price, you can get a nicer-looking gemstone that can be used in jewelry and engagement rings. That said, lab-grown and mined diamonds carry a higher price tag than moissanite and seem more luxurious to the general public.

Lab-grown diamonds and moissanite can appear similar to an untrained eye at first glance, however, there is a difference in their appearance: 

  • Depending on the stone, moissanite can show more sparkles than a diamond.
  • Some moissanite gemstones have a yellowish-greyish tint, while lab-grown diamonds with lower J-G grades have a yellowish-blueish tint. Higher grades appear completely colorless.

Test yourself: Is this a diamond or a moissanite?

Table of Contents

One common misconception people have when starting to look for a gemstone is thinking moissanite and lab-grown diamonds are the same. Not only that they look different, but they also carry a different price tag. In this article, we will compare lab-grown diamonds and moissanite. 

Let’s start.

Lab-created diamonds and moissanite history

Did you know that over 300 gemstones have been discovered since time immemorial? Also, are you aware that diamond is among the earliest gems to be unearthed while moissanite is one of the latest?

Sure, humans first discovered natural diamonds in Indian caves between 4 and 6 B.C. On the other hand, moissanite was an accidental discovery of Henri Moissan. How about learning a little history of moissanite, a lab-created gem considered a great alternative to a lab-grown diamond?

Lab-created diamonds and moissanite history

In 1893, a French scientist called Henri Moissan ventured out to the site of a meteorite crash in the Arizona desert. The extraterrestrial object had crashed there thousands of years ago, leaving behind a large crater. Moissan had been hoping to find possible materials he could use to invent crystalline chemical compositions for efficient electrical conductivity. But he accidentally came across a remarkable and extremely rare object and collected it, thinking it was a diamond piece. 

Henri Moissan - moissanite gemstone creator
Henri Moissan - the legend himself

While back at the laboratory, scientists examined the object, discovering silicon carbide–a remarkable and scarce mineral. A few years later, they would find a way to create a perfect gemstone out of it, naming it “Moissanite” in honor of Dr. Henri Moissan. 

Today, the lab-created gem is treasured almost like a lab-grown diamond. This is all thanks to its sparkling appearance, durability, and cheaper price tag.

What is a lab-grown diamond?

Lab-grown diamonds are diamonds produced in a highly controlled laboratory environment that mimics the same conditions in nature. This way, scientists can create a diamond that shares the exact same physical and chemical characteristics as natural diamonds. Unlike in nature, where the creation process can take millions of years, lab-grown diamonds can grow within 4-5 weeks. While we have zero control over the quality of diamonds in nature, the lab has the power to improve the quality of their product and grow colorless and clean diamonds.

sustainable diamonds price pros and cons

What are mined diamonds?

Mined diamonds are diamonds that have been pulled from the ground, typically through a process of excavation. Unlike lab-grown diamonds, mined diamonds are not created in a controlled environment. Instead, miners rely on the chance to find diamonds in natural environments like riverbeds and kimberlite pipes. This process can be expensive and time-consuming, as miners must carefully search for the stones and then extract them from the earth.

Due to the expense and labor involved in mining for diamonds, mined diamonds are typically more expensive than lab-grown diamonds. However, some people prefer mined diamonds due to their natural origins and unique markings.

What is Moissanite?

As said earlier, moissanite is another lab-created gemstone similar and different to a lab diamond in many ways, which I’ll show you. Moissanite, also known as silicon carbide (SiC), is a crystalline form of silicon dioxide with composition C. This beautiful gemstone is essentially colorless with a fiery rainbow flash. Rolled out into the jewelry market as recently as 1998, it has become trendy over the years, thanks to its brilliant sparkle and pocket-friendly price tag.

Natural moissanite and lab-grown moissanite share the same chemical properties, being almost the hardest gemstone on the jewelry market, 9.25-9.5 on the Mohs hardness scale. Moreover, nowadays it’s very common to see someone wearing moissanite jewelry and moissanite as a center stone. This is because moissanite sparkles and outshines many low-quality mined diamonds.

Lab-grown diamonds vs Moissanite: What are the differences?

1. Moissanite comes in fewer color options than lab-created diamonds. For example, these artificial gemstones are available as colorless, blue, green, and yellow pieces. On the other hand, lab-created diamonds come in pink and orange on top of the above color options. 

lab-grown diamonds vs moissanite: color
Lab-grown colored diamonds by Brilliant Earth

2. Moreover, moissanite is made up of silicon carbide atoms arranged in a hexagonal structure. A lab-grown diamond, on the other hand, consists of carbon atoms arranged in a crystal structure known as “diamond cubic.” 

3. Additionally, moissanite has a density (the degree of compactness of a substance) of 3.2 g/cm3. On the contrary, a lab-grown diamond has a density of 3.5–3.53 g/cm3.

4. What’s more, moissanite has a molecular weight (mass of a molecule of a substance) of 40.10 gm. Contrarily, a lab diamond has a molecular weight of 12.01 gm. 

5. On top of that, moissanite weighs 15% lighter than a man-made diamond. 

6. As if that’s not enough, moissanite is typically sold by length and width in millimeters. A lab-grown diamond, on the other hand, is always offered in carat weight.

7. Besides that, moissanite has a metallic luster. On the contrary, a lab-grown diamond has an adamantine luster.

8. In addition, moissanite generally has a bluish-greenish-gray streak. Contrastingly, a lab-created diamond has a colorless streak.

Moissanite with strong blue tint

9. Moreover, moissanite is about 90% less expensive than a diamond, with all factors remaining constant. 

10. On top of that, moissanite has a higher melting point (4946°For 2730 °C) than a lab diamond (1,292 °F, or 700°C). 

11. Moissanite and lab diamonds vary in diaphaneity (transparency or opacity). For example, moissanite can be transparent or opaque. A diamond, on the other hand, can be transparent, sub-transparent, or translucent. 

12. Additionally, moissanite is electrically conductive, whereas a lab-created diamond is not. 

13. What’s more, moissanite takes more time than an lab diamond to create in the lab. Unlike this diamond which can take 4-10 weeks to grow, this precious gemstone can take up to 8 to 12 weeks to manufacture in the laboratory. 

14. Lastly, moissanite is less hard than a sustainable diamond with values of 9.25—9.50 on the Mohs scale of mineral hardness. Lab diamonds reach the maximum grade, 10 on the Mohs scale, the same hardness as natural diamonds. 

Speaking of which, did you know that mined diamonds are the hardest known substances on earth?

Can You Tell the Difference Between Moissanite vs Lab Diamond?

The short answer is yes. However, though these two precious stones differ in many aspects, it can be hard to spot most of those differences at a glance except for the sparkle, color, refraction, and price. 

Starting with the sparkle, you’ll see that moissanite is more brilliant than a lab diamond. That’s because its chemical makeup differs from lab diamonds. While this diamond is made from pure carbon, moissanite consists of both carbon and silica. Meaning silica is what gives it the extra sparkle. 

When it comes to color, you’ll know it’s moissanite when the gemstone looks and feels like a lab diamond, but it’s yellowish-greenish. While lab diamonds are available in various color options, including “colorless,” “near colorless,” blue, red, or purple, yellowish-green shades aren’t that common. Any yellowish-greenish gemstone that looks like a lab diamond is likely moissanite. 

Regarding refraction as a shared characteristic, moissanite and lab diamond gems refract light differently. In this context, refraction refers to how moissanite, a diamond, and other gemstones bend and break light apart. Moissanite is generally more refractive than a diamond.

If you come across a diamond-like gemstone that seems twice as refractive as a lab diamond, you’ll know it’s moissanite. This is especially practical if you’ve had a lab diamond before, meaning you have a clue regarding the refractive capabilities of this gemstone. 

Lastly, regarding the price as another distinguishing factor, you should keep in mind that moissanite is 90% cheaper than lab-produced diamonds.

To summarize, if you come across:

  • a diamond-like gem that sparkles more than a lab diamond
  • might contain some yellowish-greenish tint
  • twice as refractive as a lab diamond
  • nine times cheaper than a diamond

You know that you are looking at moissanite.

Moissanite vs. Lab-Grown Diamond: How Do They Compare?

1. Moissanite and diamonds are available in various color options. These include blue, yellow, green, and colorless. 

2. What’s more, moissanite exist naturally, but they can also be created in the laboratory, just like diamonds. 

3. Additionally, moissanite and lab diamonds are both gemstones. 

4. Furthermore, moissanite and sustainable diamonds are both insoluble in water. 

5. To top it up, moissanite and man-made diamonds alike will last a lifetime, maintaining their brilliance, fire, and luster forever.

6. What’s more, both gemstones are made up of carbon. For example, moissanite consists of carbon and silicone, whereas lab-created diamonds solely contain carbon. 

7. Additionally, these gemstones are extremely popular in the jewelry market in fine jewelry and engagement ring. They are commonly used as a diamond alternative if you don’t mind “real diamonds” for your diamond ring.

3 carat oval ring
A lab-grown diamond engagement ring by Brilliant Earth

Moissanite VS Natural Diamond VS Lab Grown Diamond Pricing

There’s no denying that moissanite, natural diamonds, and lab diamonds carry different price tags. Of all, moissanite is the cheapest option, followed by lab-grown diamonds and then natural diamonds. 

As said earlier, due to different chemical makeup, this carbon-silicone gemstone is nine times cheaper than its man-made diamond counterparts, costing less than natural diamonds. 

The prices depend primarily on the quality of the gemstone. According to With Clarity, lab-grown diamonds cost around $800-$1,000 per carat. On the other hand, natural diamonds go for between $1,300 and $16,500 per carat.

Since we know that moissanite is 9 times cheaper than lab diamonds, we can easily calculate the high and low prices of one unit, using the above prices of artificial diamonds:

First let’s start with the ratio of moissanite: lab diamonds

=1:9.

Second, we’ll convert the ratio to a fraction:

=2/18. 

Third, we’ll use the fraction to determine the cost of the moissanite if the lab-grown diamonds are selling at first, $800 and then $1000. 

i. 2/18 X $800 = $88.89.

ii. 2/18 X $1000 = $111.11

N/B: The prices of gemstone commodities will vary, depending on the commodity’s quality, supply and demand. In this case, $800 will buy you a lab diamond of the lowest grade. $1000, on the other hand, will acquire you a lab diamond of the highest grade. 

Moissanite vs Natural diamond vs Lab Diamond Comparison

1. To begin with, moissanite, natural diamonds, and lab diamonds are all precious stones, commonly used for jewelry and engagement rings. 

2. Moissanite and diamonds are available in various color options, including blue, yellow, green, and colorless. Doesn’t matter which color you pick; moissanite carries the cheapest price tag. Colorless lab-grown diamonds are generally sold for the same price tag as fancy-colored lab-grown diamonds. However, fancy color natural diamonds can be sold for hundreds of thousands and millions of dollars. 

3. On top of that, moissanite, natural diamonds, and lab diamonds are all insoluble in water. 

4. To top it up, moissanite and diamonds (natural and lab-grown) will last a lifetime, maintaining their brilliance, fire, and luster forever. A small tip from me, clean your stone from time to time. It might get cloudy from daily use.

6. What’s more, all these gemstones are made up of carbon. For example, moissanite consists of carbon and silicone, whereas lab diamonds, alongside natural diamonds, contain just carbon. 

7. Lastly, both gemstones are extremely popular in the jewelry market. 

Conclusion

Moissanites and lab-grown diamonds are somehow disrupting the traditional market for diamonds as many buyers are starting to shift focus to these lab-produced gemstones.

That’s because moissanite and sustainable diamonds are more affordable and eco-friendly than natural diamonds. Despite that, they both look more beautiful in many cases than diamonds mined from the earth. For that reason alone, for many of you who have a limited budget, a lab-grown diamond or moissanite can give a better bang for the buck.

I hope this article helped you discover the similarities and differences between moissanite vs lab-created diamonds vs natural diamonds.

If you have any questions, click here and reach out. I’ll do my best to help, promise. 

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