Many people wonder if quartz is a suitable diamond substitute because of its clear color. If you want jewelry with clear gems that sparkle, then quartz is an acceptable choice. However, you will want something more durable for an engagement ring. Below, we will explain the similarities and differences between quartz vs diamond, including color, sparkle, brilliance, hardness, clarity, cut, and price.
Difference in Color
Quartz comes in many different colors like pink, yellow, blue, and purple. Colored quartz goes by different names depending on its color. For instance, pink quartz is called rose quartz. Purple quartz is called amethyst. And yellow quartz is known as citrine. What we call quartz is the clear variety. Historically, quartz was differentiated based on color. But today scientists look at the mineral’s microstructure too.
Diamond is similar in that people are usually referring to the clear variety unless they specify its color. However, the properties of a colored diamond are slightly different than clear diamond. Color in a diamond results from impurities or structural defects. That may lead you to believe colored diamonds are less valuable than clear diamonds, but the opposite is true. Colored diamonds are more valuable than white diamonds because they occur far less frequently in nature.
Difference in Sparkle
Between quartz vs diamond, diamond is known for excellent sparkle. Quartz reflects light through its natural luster, allowing it to give an attractive twinkle effect. Although diamond in general has great sparkle, some diamonds have better sparkle than others. Quality of cut is an important factor in determining how much the diamond sparkles. Diamonds with very good to excellent cut on the grading scale have the best sparkle.
Difference in Brilliance
Between quartz vs diamond, diamond has better brilliance. Its refractive index is 2.42, compared to quartz’s refractive index of 1.54-1.55. The higher a gemstone’s refractive index, the more brilliance it has. Another difference between quartz vs diamond is diamond is singly refractive whereas quartz is doubly refractive. Double refraction is when light splits into two beams upon entering the gemstone. The two beams travel at a different speed and on a different path in the gem.
Cut can influence the brilliance of a diamond. Gemstones with good cuts have better brilliance than those with poor cuts. Diamonds have so much brilliance that even the fair cut grade has decent brilliance. Ideal and super ideal cut diamonds have the greatest brilliance.
Difference in Hardness
On the Mohs scale of hardness, quartz ranks a 7 and diamond is a 10. Without argument, between quartz vs diamond, diamond has better hardness. 7 is about as low as a gemstone can be for use in jewelry. Diamond is much harder than quartz. It’s actually the hardest gemstone.
Quartz is hard enough to scratch steel. A variety of quartz, novaculite, is often used for sharpening knives. Another use for quartz is in counter tops. Thus, although quartz is one of the more common and less expensive gemstones, it’s still good for jewelry. Quartz is chemically inert with most substances. It also has great heat resistance and electrical properties, resulting in its use in electronics.
Difference in Clarity
Quartz and diamond are graded on different clarity grading scales. Clear diamonds that are free of inclusions are more valuable due to greater clarity. However, in other gemstones, inclusions are sometimes a desirable trait in the stone. For example, people like “silk” in sapphire and “horsetail inclusions” in demantoid garnet. Colored gemstones have their own clarity scale in which there are three types: Type 1, Type 2, and Type 3.
Not all varieties of quartz fall under the same category. Smoky quartz, citrine, and amethyst have Type 1 clarity. Type 1 gemstones are usually eye clean, which means they don’t have inclusions visible to the naked eye. Some amethyst and citrine are Type 2 gemstones because they have minor visible inclusions.
The diamond clarity scale consists of FL (flawless), IF (internally flawless), VVS1-VVS2 (very very slightly included), VS1-VS2 (very slightly included), SI1-SI2 (slightly included), and I1-I3 (included). As expected, flawless diamonds have the best clarity. They don’t have any inclusions and are blemishes visible under up to 10x magnification.
Flawless diamonds are extremely rare. Fewer than 1 in 5,000 diamonds are FL. Many people would agree that as long as a diamond is eye clean, level of clarity doesn’t matter since you can’t see the inclusions with the naked eye. VS1 and above are eye clean diamonds. Sometimes, inclusions can be detected with VS2 diamonds upon close inspection with the naked eye.
Difference in Cut
How a quartz is cut impacts its properties. Examples of quartz cuts include CT cut, SC cut, and AT cut. AT cut quartz is useful for electronic instruments. In jewelry, it’s important to find a well-cut quartz if you want the piece to sparkle beautifully in the light. Diamond has several available cuts, such as round, oval, cushion, emerald, and princess. A diamond’s cut affects its brilliance. Well-cut diamonds will have the best brilliance.
Difference in Price
Quartz jewelry is fairly inexpensive. You can buy a quartz ring for around $20-$100. Quartz countertops cost $75 per square foot without installation fees. Low quality quartz countertops are $50-$60 per square foot without installation fees.
Diamond jewelry varies more widely in price. At the low end, you can find diamond jewelry for a few hundred dollars. But at the high end, diamond jewelry can cost over $20,000. We wouldn’t recommend trying to buy a quartz engagement ring because of its lower hardness and lack of options. Moreover, there are better alternatives to diamond engagement rings than quartz.
The Bottom Line
Both quartz and diamond are beautiful gemstones to use in jewelry. However, when it comes to an engagement ring, quartz isn’t a good choice. You should go with diamond or a diamond substitute. Quartz and diamond have a few similarities but more differences. Key differences between quartz vs diamond are hardness, clarity, and brilliance. Quartz is also far less expensive than diamond.