If you are in search of a diamond jewelry alternative, something more affordable but still substantial and sublime, you may want to consider moissanite and cubic zirconia as the perfect substitute. These two synthetic gemstones resemble natural diamonds in brilliance, quality, and strength. To find the material that perfectly fits your jewelry collection, you may first want to compare moissanite and cubic zirconia.
Although diamond is the perfect and unreplaceable gem when it comes to a wedding ring, you can opt for other jewelry made with moissanite and cubic zirconia if budget is in question. These affordable diamond simulants resemble the overall aesthetics of a diamond, but are different in many other ways. So let us take a deeper look at the properties, pros and cons of moissanite and cubic zirconia to better understand their value.
Diamonds vs. Moissanite vs. Cubic Zirconia
|Brilliance||2.41||2.65 to 2.69||2.15 to 2.18|
|Hardness||10.0||9.25||8 to 8.5|
|Fire||.044||.104||.058 to .066|
|Price/Carat||$4K to $6K||$400||$20 to $100|
Comparison Table: Moissanite vs. Cubic Zirconia vs. Diamond
The criteria used to review gems, which also indicates their price per carat, includes brilliance, hardness, and colors that are refracted by the gem (fire).
It refers to how much a gem redirects white light. Brilliance in gems also has a measuring scale from 0 to 10 but the lower the number, the more brilliant the gem is. This can be referred to as the “sparkles” gems make when you look at them. For this criteria, you can consider moissanite and cubic zirconia as the perfect substitute of diamond.
Also referred to as mohs scale, hardness of a specific substance is measured on a scale of 1 to 10. Diamonds have the highest mohs rating (10), surpassing sapphire, moissanite and ruby (9), topaz and cubic zirconia (8), emerald, aquamarine and amethyst (7.5) etc.
Similar to brilliance, fire is another criteria used to review gems. It refers to the colors that are refracted by the gem, much like a prism that reflects a rainbow of colors. Fire on gems is also measured on a scale from 0 to 10, with the lower number indicating more fire in a gem. As seen in the table above, diamond has the capability to reflect more colors, when compared to moissanite or cubic zirconia.
Overall Durability of Moissanite vs. Cubic Zirconia
Both moissanite and cubic zirconia are highly resistant to heat fluctuations and extreme temperatures. Moissanite, for example, can endure temperatures as high as 2000 degrees Fahrenheit (approx. 1000 degrees Celsius).
Cubic Zirconia too can endure extreme temperatures as high as 4000 degrees Fahrenheit (approx. 2000 degrees Celsius). Understandably, you don’t have to worry about temperature fluctuations cracking your crystals as it won’t happen.
Cubic zirconia and moissanite are both considered as highly resistant to chemicals. Household chemicals like window cleaners, solvents, and detergents all contain chemicals and abrasives that can damage your jewelry in the long run. Rest assured as moissanite and cubic zirconia don’t have such weaknesses.
Chip and Scratch Resistance
Out of both crystals, cubic zirconia is more brittle, and thus more vulnerable to chipping. Other issues with cubic zirconia include various mechanical stresses, dislocations, or other occurring imperfections. With such ratings in the mohs scale, (9 and 8.5) both gemstones are also resistant to scratches.
Attraction to dirt is as well a concern unique to cubic zirconia. The gemstone is known for picking up dirt or oils. Subsequently, it requires more cleaning.
Cubic Zirconia: Composition and History
Cubic Zirconia is a synthetic crystal form of zirconium oxide (ZrO2), that is found in nature. The natural zirconium oxide is rare and cannot be used to supply the industry for commercial profit. Therefore the synthetic cubic zirconia crystal was born. It was lab-created by Russian scientists for commercial use as a cheaper alternative to natural rubies.
To synthetically create cubic zirconia, zirconium oxide is heated to extremely high temperatures. In the making, it can be combined with several metal oxides that create colors. The material is versatile and is available in a rainbow of colors, from clear to white to red.
Moissanite: Composition and History
Moissanite was discovered around a century ago by the French chemist, Dr. Henri Moissan, hence the name. The Nobel Prize winner chemist was looking for crystalline chemical compositions when he discovered silicon carbide in a meteorite crater in Arizona, an extremely rare material with remarkable qualities. It was later named moissanite, in the chemist’s honor.
In the late 1990s, scientists working at the Research Triangle Park in North Carolina were able to lab-create a synthetic form of moissanite (pure silicon carbide – SiC). The lengthy development process makes moissanite, although a diamond simulant, still a valuable gem for your jewelry.
Main Differences between Moissanite and Cubic Zirconia
- Moissanite is considerably more expensive than Cubic Zirconia. In jewelry, Moissanite is sold at $400 per carat, whereas cubic zirconia carats retail for around $25 up to $100.
- Moissanite is more durable and harder (9.5 to 10 on Mohs scale) than Cubic Zirconia (8.5 on Mohs scale). Moissanite also has a more beautiful luster.
- Out of two synthetic gems, Moissanite can sometimes reflect a green tint.
- Both lab-made gems have different crystal structures and take different time to be created.
Pros and Cons of Moissanite
Due to its brilliance and durability, moissanite is considered as the closest substitute to either natural or synthetic diamonds. It is listed higher than cubic zirconia in the Mohs scale and its lasting luster is nearly identical to that of a genuine diamond. And not to forget about moissanite’s unique structure, a hexagonal shape that is able to catch light and beautifully reflect colors.
There is no problem with moissanite jewelry, except that some clear or white stones can reflect a green tint that only appears in bright light. Price, if it can be considered as a dowside, should also be taken into consideration.
Moissanite is more expensive than cubic zirconia. However, people’s general perception of these two synthetic gems as cheap fakes despite their high quality would not make an appealing gift to the uninformed receiver.
Pros and Cons of Cubic Zirconia
Since the 1970s, cubic zirconia has been the standard substitute for diamond and other gemstones. It is less expensive than moissanite, making it more accessible for fashion jewelry designers.
Cubic zirconia jewelry comes in grades from A to AAAAA, with the latter being of the highest quality. The best thing about high quality cubic zirconia is that they are second to diamond, and can not be distinguished without expert examination.
Their cubic crystal structure creates a brilliance and fire that is close to that of a natural diamond. And the green tint that sometimes appears in some moissanites does not occur on cubic zirconia.
If you are looking for cubic zirconia jewelry, try the hand-cut CZ gems. In addition to machine-cut ones, hand-cut cubic zirconia gems are more visually appealing, getting closer to the perfect resemblance of a genuine diamond.
However, there are some minor but significant downsides of low to mid quality cubic zirconia you may want to know before making a purchase. Low to mid quality CZ lacks the luster that is usually seen in diamonds and moissanites. The crystal is less durable too and some stones can also come with striations along the crystal.
Can you choose an engagement ring with a moissanite or cubic zirconia gem?
Wedding or engagement rings are not only a piece of jewelry but also the ultimate symbol of two hearts united, sealing a love bond forever. Wedding rings have been worn as far back as Ancient Egypt, however, diamonds would wait up until the 19th century to become the preferred choice for engagement or wedding rings.
Diamonds are popular due to their many properties. In addition to being the hardest gemstone on earth, exclusivity, their beautiful appearance, the amazing luster they reflect, add to the value and popularity of diamonds.
Although there is no stigma associated with cubic zirconia or moissanite jewelry, there is a certain degree of skepticism. Regardless of the popularity the gemstones are gaining, some feel that diamonds are symbolic and that alternatives do not offer the same feel.
A diamond engagement ring for sure is timeless and can also be passed down for generations as a family hailroom. But the same can be said about moissanite and cubic zirconia jewelry. With the upcoming trends, millennials in particular are seeking a diamond alternative, something unique to express style, but also save money.
Saving money on other things (down payments on cars or home for example) is something the younger generations are placing emphasis more and more. I respect that, same as I respect your choice for a wedding or engagement ring. Remember that your significant other will appreciate the love the ring symbolises, and not its monetary value.
The Final Verdict…
At a glance, diamond and its best alternatives look all alike. But will have to opt for moissanite as the best diamond alternative, owing to its durability, value, and brilliance. Although nothing can replace diamond, moissanite at least comes close.