Moissanite vs cubic zirconia is a tough choice to make because both gemstones are good diamond simulants. Each has its strengths and weaknesses as a diamond simulant. You must take these differences into consideration before choosing which gemstone to buy. Below we will examine the characteristics of moissanite and cubic zirconia to find out which one is the better diamond simulant.
What Is Moissanite?
French scientist Henri Moissan discovered moissanite in Arizona in 1893. The gemstone was found in a crater formed from a meteorite. Moissan originally thought they were diamonds, but upon closer examination, he realized that the crystals were made of silicon carbide. Because natural moissanite is so rare, most of it is created in a laboratory. It took years of experimentation for scientists to successfully create moissanite in the lab. Although moissanite looks similar to diamond, it has a different composition.
Moissanite is eco friendly because it’s made in a lab instead of mined. It is also less expensive per carat than some other gemstones. The gemstone is durable with a Mohs rating of 9.25. Moisssanite has great sparkle and usually has good clarity too. Most Moissanite has a clarity rating of VS and above.
What Is Cubic Zirconia?
Cubic zirconia is a man-made crystalline material that resembles a diamond. Most notably, it is colorless, hard, and flawless. However, as explained above, it’s not as hard as a diamond or moissanite. This man-made gemstone is sometimes mistakenly called “cubic zirconium,” which is a silvery white chemical element. Zirconium in a powdered form is one of the ingredients used to produce cubic zirconia. Different from diamonds, cubic zirconia doesn’t have inclusions. This is a selling point for some, whereas others view inclusions as part of the gemstone’s character.
Cubic zirconia is similar to diamonds in refractivity and appearance. It’s difficult to tell the difference between the two with the naked eye. Cubic zirconia is available in many of the same cuts and shapes that diamonds are. The stone is a thermal insulator, whereas moissanite is a thermal conductor. Diamonds are thermal conductors, so moissanite is closer to a diamond in that regard.
Moissanite vs Cubic Zirconia
When it comes to durability, moissanite is the winner between moissanite vs cubic zirconia. It has a higher hardness rating on the Mohs scale. The highest a gem can score on the scale is a 10, making moissanite a fairly hard gem. It’s not harder than diamond, however, which is a 10.
Cubic zirconia is softer than moissanite and scratches easier. If you’re looking for an engagement ring, moissanite is a better choice than cubic zirconia for its durability. However, if it’s other jewelry that you’re looking for with diamond simulants, then cubic zirconia is an acceptable choice. Cubic zirconia has a hardness of 8.5, still a very hard stone.
Moissanite has a different faceting pattern than diamonds. Its brilliance results in fiery, rainbow flashes. Some people find this effect beautiful, whereas others prefer a more toned down brilliance in their jewelry. The larger the moissanite, the more noticeable this rainbow effect is. Moissanite’s refractive index is 2.65-2.69, which is higher than that of a diamond. If you don’t want the gemstone to have too intense of rainbow flashes from refracted light, then neither moissanite nor cubic zirconia are recommended. It would be better for you to buy a diamond or another similar gemstone that doesn’t have such a high brilliance.
Cubic zirconia is as brilliant as a diamond. However, its brilliance is negatively impacted with an increase in size. The larger the cubic zirconia, the more fake it looks. For cubic zirconia that can pass as a diamond to the naked eye, you should stick to 1 carat or below. Large cubic zirconia stones sparkle more than diamonds of equivalent size but loses out in the brilliance aspect. It doesn’t captivate the same depth a diamond does.
Moissanite can project a yellow or gray hue in some types of light, even the moissanite that is deemed colorless. The color becomes more noticeable the larger the moissanite is. If a colorless gemstone is important to you, then cubic zirconia is the better choice between moissanite vs cubic zirconia because it’s more colorless.
Moissanite can’t compare to a colorless diamond either. You will notice the difference upon professional examination. To the naked eye, you won’t notice much of a difference in color. Cubic zirconia is available in different colors similar to the color variances of mined diamonds.
Moissanite and cubic zirconia are both cheaper than diamonds. Of comparable size, moissanite is significantly cheaper than diamond. For a 1 carat diamond that costs $5,000, a moissanite of similar size costs $700. However, there is a difference in what carats mean for the two gemstones. Diamond carats are based on the gem’s weight, whereas moissanite carats relates to its size in millimeters. A 1 carat diamond is equivalent to 6.5 mm moissanite.
In general, cubic zirconia is inexpensive, but you’ll find a few expensive pieces. The expensive cubic zirconia has better quality than the cheaper stones. Unlike moissanite, cubic zirconia is measured based on its weight. Cubic zirconia was introduced to the market after decades of trial and error in 1930. In the 1970s, cubic zirconia became a popular alternative to diamonds and other clear gemstones.
When cubic zirconia is set in quality metals like gold, silver, and platinum, they are more valuable. Cubic zirconia is much cheaper than moissanite at $20-$40. Just as with diamonds, the cost of cubic zirconia depends on its quality.
Moissanite vs Cubic Zirconia – The Verdict
When choosing between moissanite vs cubic zirconia as a diamond simulant, moissanite is the better choice. Its characteristics are closer to diamond than cubic zirconia’s are. Moissanite has better durability and looks more real than cubic zirconia in larger sizes. However, cubic zirconia can be a great alternative to diamonds too. Two advantages it has over moissanite is clearer color and flawlessness.
Do you have any jewelry with moissanite or cubic zirconia? Which do you prefer between moissanite vs cubic zirconia?