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Lab Diamonds vs Moissanite

If you’re shopping for an engagement ring, you’ve likely seen alternatives to earth-mined diamonds, such as lab grown diamonds and moissanite. Both are ethically sourced, environmentally friendly, durable, and affordable. Keep reading to learn more about the similarities and differences of these sparkling gemstones.


What Are Lab Diamonds?

Lab grown diamonds provide consumers with a “real” diamond that shares the same chemical composition, optical properties and physical features as natural diamonds. Lab diamonds are made of carbon like natural diamonds.

The process to create a lab grown diamond is similar to the process to create natural diamonds–the only difference is one occurs within the earth’s crust and the other occurs in a laboratory. To create a lab grown diamond, the manufacturing process replicates conditions that create a natural diamond creation–extreme temperatures and pressures that turn carbon into a diamond.

Like diamonds, lab grown diamonds are evaluated using the same color, cut, carat and clarity scales that natural diamonds are, so review this information while shopping for stones. Grading determines the diamond’s quality.

Natural Diamonds Lab Grown Diamonds Moissanite
Formed in the earth over millions of years. Grown in laboratories over a few weeks. Produced in labs over weeks.
Made of carbon Made of carbon Made of silicon carbide
Mix of color and clarity based on growth. Mix of color and clarity based on growth. Higher color and clarity due to manufacturing in a lab.
Up to $6000 for a quality1-carat diamond Up to $2000 for a quality 1-carat lab diamond Up to $600 for a 1-carat moissanite
10 on the hardness scale 10 on the hardness scale 9.25 on the hardness scale
2.417 - 2.419 refractive index 2.417 - 2.419 refractive index 2.65 - 2.69 refractive index (more colors reflected than diamonds)

What is Moissanite?

Moissanite is a near-colorless gemstone that’s composed of silicon carbide. Naturally-occurring moissanite is extremely rare, so moissanite sold today is produced by laboratories. It’s cut with the same faceting as a diamond, and is nearly as hard as a diamond. It’s a gorgeous alternative to a natural or lab grown diamond.

You’ll want to be aware of the 4 Cs when shopping for moissanite.


  • Carat: Moissanite generally weighs approximately 15% less than diamonds. Instead of using carat weight like lab-created diamonds, moissanite is priced in millimeters.
  • Color: Graded on a scale similar to the GIA diamond color grading scale, moissanite comes in three grades. You can find gems as colorless (D-E-F range), nearly colorless (G-H-I range), and with faint color hues (J-K range).
  • Clarity: Moissanite can range in clarity from FL to I3. Inclusions up to a certain clarity range can only be seen under 10x magnification. However, moissanite with a grade of I3 can have inclusions that can be seen by the naked eye.
  • Cut: Moissanite should be cut to maximize the fire, sparkle, and brilliance of the stone. A well-cut stone will allow for more light to dance in the stone and improve the value of the gem. However, a good cut grade is also delightful for that sparkle.

Comparing Lab Diamonds and Moissanite

A helpful way to analyze lab diamonds and moissanite is to compare them:


  • Appearance: Only experts can tell the difference between lab diamonds and moissanite because they look so similar.
  • Sparkle: Moissanite has a different faceting pattern, so they exhibit a different type of brilliance than lab created diamonds. They feature fiery, rainbow flashes reflecting the complete color spectrum. A lab created diamond reflects light in more complex ways, known as its brilliance, and gives the stone its coveted sparkle.
  • Refraction: Moissanite has a refractive index from 2.65–2.69 and lab created diamonds have the same refractive index as diamonds with 2.42. This difference causes different types of brilliance from each stone.
  • Durability: Lab created diamonds have a hardness of 10 on the Mohs hardness scale while moissanite has a hardness of 9.25. Both gemstones are hard and durable!
  • Color: Like natural diamonds, lab grown diamonds vary in color. They’re graded according to the same standards as natural diamonds (D–Z, colorless to light yellow or brown). The moissanite color scale is similar to the GIA diamond color grading scale. Although the GIA’s scale does not officially grade this stone, jewelers will use it to communicate a stone’s color and clarity. There are three grades of moissanite available today. The three grades include: colorless (D-F), near-colorless (G-I), and faint hues of color (J-K). D represents the most colorless diamond and as you continue down the scale diamonds get less clear.
  • Price: The cost of 1-carat moissanite in comparison to that of a 1-carat diamond. As a guide, you can expect to pay around $5,500 for a nearly colorless 1-carat natural diamond, but a similar quality lab-created diamond would cost about $1,800 and moissanite will cost you around $500.

Lab Grown Diamond and Moissanite Benefits and Cons

Lab grown diamonds have numerous benefits in addition to cost, which we will discuss shortly:


  • Durability: They remain the hardest material on earth—a 10 on the Mohs hardness scale—and are as difficult to chip as a natural diamond. Moissanite is also hard (9.25 on Mohs) and durable.
  • Ethically sourced and conflict free: Unlike most natural diamonds, you can pinpoint the origin of lab grown diamonds and moissanite.
  • Environmentally friendly: The environmental impact is much reduced by purchasing lab created diamonds and moissanite, mined diamonds have a huge impact upon environments, landscapes, and communities.
  • Cost: Lab grown diamonds and moissanite cost significantly less than natural diamonds. Moissanite is even more affordable than lab grown diamonds.

Lab grown diamonds and moissanite have plenty of benefits, but there are a few cons. They aren’t as valuable long-term as natural diamonds because natural diamonds are rare. Moissanite sparkles, but in a different way than lab grown diamonds. Similarly, lab grown diamonds are harder than moissanite.

Each gemstone is different, so you’ll want to evaluate each stone using the 4Cs and see which works best for you! And if you need assistance, experts are available to answer questions via chat.

FAQ's

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