When it comes to engagement rings, it seems that diamonds are the default option. It’s not difficult to see why these stones are so in favor. They are durable, brilliant, stylish and prestigious. However, buying a diamond engagement ring is not a viable option for everyone. Some main issues for many couples is the hefty price point as well as the concerns surrounding sustainability and ethical mining. If, for whatever reason, you want the diamond look but not the diamond itself, your best bet is to check out a diamond simulant. Of the many simulants available on the market, moissanite is the most popular. It is very similar to diamonds in terms of appearance and durability and an increasing number of couples are turning towards this stone. This brings us to the question: Should I buy a diamond or a moissanite for my engagement ring? Let’s take a detailed look into how moissanite stacks up against diamonds.
Natural diamonds form over the course of millions of years. Composed of carbon, diamonds are created under extreme pressure and heat then brought up to the surface through violent geological activity. Contrary to what many people believe, diamonds are not rare at all. While it is safe to say that any gem quality stone is rare, diamonds are among the most common. They are found around the globe and are relatively plentiful. Natural moissanite, on the other hand, is extremely rare. While diamonds come from deep within the earth, natural moissanite comes from meteorites from outer space. This is why moissanite has earned the nicknames such as Space Diamond and Stardust. The quantities of natural moissanite found on earth is very limited and insufficient to create jewelry. It is also very expensive. As a result, all moissanite found on the market today is lab-created.
Diamonds are easily one of the hardest natural substances on the planet. On the Mohs scale of hardness, it ranks supreme at number 10. However, moissanite isn’t very far behind, at 9.25. It is the second hardest gemstone used in jewelry, and is harder than other popular engagement ring gemstones such as sapphire (Mohs ranking 9), ruby (9) and emerald (7.5 to 8). In addition to this, moissanite is more resistant to heat than diamonds. Both diamonds and moissanites are scratch resistant and require minimal maintenance to keep them sparkling. They are ideal gemstones for daily wear.
When it comes to price, diamonds are pretty expensive stones. Many young couples are willing to spend up to two months’ salary on their ring, thanks to social pressure and media influence. A quick search online at the time of writing revealed that an average 1 carat diamond costs upwards of $4000, with the average cost of a diamond engagement ring being $5000. A moissanite of similar appearance and size can cost up to 90% less than a diamond, with a 1 carat moissanite only setting you back about $400. Whatever your views may be on this, moissanite is clearly a more rational, practical choice.
Diamonds and moissanites are so similar in appearance that most people cannot differentiate the two. Even experts often require special equipment to tell the two apart. What a diamond is best known for is its brilliance and sparkle. The stone has a high refractive index (this refers to the angle of refraction) at 2.42. When expertly cut, the diamond’s fire, scintillation and brilliance is unmatchable. Moissanite has a higher refractive index than diamonds (2.65), and even higher levels of brilliance and fire than diamonds. However, they tend to have a ‘rainbow effect’, which is especially noticeable under natural light and in larger stones. While some people love the colorful flashes of moissanite, others feel that it makes the stone look ‘fake’. To avoid this, it’s best to go for smaller stones and to view the moissanite under different light sources prior to buying. The larger the stone is, the easier it is to tell apart from diamonds.
Although diamonds are gorgeous, there is an ugly side to them that has been highlighted through films such as blood Diamond. Diamond mining causes enormous environmental devastation. It is estimated that for every carat of diamond mined, over 1 ton of earth is taken out. Mining often leads to erosion, deforestation and barren wastelands. If you look at images of diamond mines, there is no romance there. These are empty, barren, sad-looking places. In addition to this, there is also the factor of bad working conditions, human rights abuse and the risk that your diamond may be a conflict, or blood, diamond. Avoiding an unethical diamondnis much easier these days with the adaptation of the Kimbrely Process. Since Moissanites are created in labs, the ethical and environmental issues related to moissanite are almost non-existent. There is minimum wastage of resources and good working conditions. A moissanite is truly an ethical choice.
Both diamonds and moissanites have their pros and cons. It is up to the individual to determine which stone is most suitable to them. This brings us to our final point. Prior to the de Beers diamond campaigns in the late 1930s, diamonds were actually going out of fashion. But clever marketing strategies created the modern image of diamonds as the ideal symbol of love and devotion. A diamond became a girl’s best friend and a man was required to spend 2 months’ salary on it. These concepts have become mainstream and diamonds are now equated to wealth, prestige, class and of course, love.
A moissanite can never achieve the social status that diamonds enjoy, at least not in the foreseeable future. To some, a moissanite is snubbed as a ‘fake’ stone, merely a diamond copycat.
Ultimately, whether you choose a diamond or a moissanite is a matter of personal preference and values.
Check out the infographic below for a quick recap comparing diamonds and moissanites.
Thank you to the Jewelry Shopping Guide for providing this article and infographic
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