Moissanite vs. diamond side by side: 11 key differences to know

moissanite vs diamond

Properties of moissanite vs. diamond:

  • Price per Carat: about $4500-$6000 vs. about $400
  • Hardness: 10 on the Mohs scale vs. 9.25 on the Mohs scale
  • Durability: Extremely durable vs. very durable
  • Brilliance: 2.42 refractive index vs. 2.65 refractive index
  • Fire: 0.044 vs. 0.104

What is moissanite?

Moissanite is the gemstone most similar to the natural diamond. Its appearance and physical properties are so similar to those of a natural diamond that it is difficult to distinguish with the naked eye.

In addition, moissanite shines brighter and has a more stunning fire than diamond, while costing 1/10th of the price of the latter.

Natural moissanite

Most moissanite on the market today is synthetic. Natural moissanite is very rare, occurring only in meteorite craters, and its color is mostly dark green and black.

Natural moissanite dates back to the late nineteenth century, and the term moissanite comes from Dr. Henri Moissan, who discovered the mineral in the Arizona Meteorite Crater in 1904.

What is moissanite? Is moissanite a diamond?

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What is moissanite vs. diamond?

Is moissanite a diamond? No. Moissanite is a stone very similar to a natural diamond. Moissanite’s internal structure and appearance are so strikingly similar to diamonds that even when tested with a professional tool, it can still be identified to be a diamond.

The advantage of moissanite over diamonds is that it shines brighter and has a more stunning fire while costing 1/10th of the price of diamonds!

The fire of moissanite is so exceptionally beautiful because of the physical, chemical, and optical properties of its crystals. This stone has a very high refractive index of 2.65-2.69 (2.42 for diamonds), a dispersion index of 0.104 (0.044 for diamonds), and a brilliance of 20.4 (17.2% for diamonds).

Moissanite also has a Mohs hardness of 9.25, just below that of diamonds (10) and higher than any other gemstone. This high hardness makes it unlikely to be scratched or cracked and will last forever.

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Properties of moissanite vs. diamond:

  • Price per Carat: about $400 vs. $4500-$6000
  • Hardness: 9.25 on the Mohs scale vs. 10 on the Mohs scale
  • Durability: very durable vs. extremely durable
  • Brilliance: 2.65 refractive indexes vs. 2.42 refractive index
  • Fire: 0.104 vs. 0.044
  • Specific gravity: 3.22 vs. 3.52

1. Price: Moissanite is more affordable.

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  • Moissanite vs. diamond price: about $400 vs. $4500-$6000

Moissanite is substantially more affordable. It costs 1/10th of the price of diamonds. But that affordability certainly doesn’t mean that moissanite appears cheap. In fact, as we will see below, moissanite actually has greater brilliance than diamonds do.

2. Hardness and durability: Moissanite is softer and less durable than diamond.

  • Moissanite vs. diamond: 9.25 on the Mohs scale vs. 10 on the Mohs scale

The hardness of moissanite is lower than diamond; therefore, using a diamond hardness tester on the surface of moissanite will leave scratches, while the scratch tester will not leave scratches on the diamond surface.

However, at a 9.25 Mohs scale hardness, higher than any other gemstone, moissanite gets very close to the durability of a natural diamond. Therefore, it is unlikely to be scratched or cracked in daily use and will last forever.

3. Refractive index: Moissanite has even greater brilliance.

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  • Moissanite vs. diamond: 2.65 refractive index vs. 2.42 refractive index

You may have noticed too that moissanite has a refractive index even greater than that of a diamond; that means it has even greater brilliance.

In addition, moissanite has birefringence. Therefore, under careful observation, we can see the overshadowing of the prism and the bottom tip. At this point, even if you change the observation angle, the overshadowing will still appear.

But we do need to note that moissanite has a rainbow glimmer effect compared to the mostly-white sparkle that diamonds offer.

4. Fire: Moissanite’s fire is greater and has a rainbow sparkle.

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  • Moissanite vs. diamond fire: 0.104 vs. 0.044

Moissanite’s fire is also greater than that of a diamond. But we do need to note that moissanite has a rainbow glimmer effect compared to the mostly-white sparkle that diamonds offer.

5. Color: Difficult to distinguish the two in terms of color.

Moissanite is difficult to distinguish from diamonds in terms of color because the DF color grading system introduced in 2015 is in sync with diamonds.

6. Specific gravity: Moissanite is lighter than diamond.

  • Moissanite vs. diamond: 3.22 vs. 3.52

Moissanite is lighter than diamond, i.e. their specific gravity is different. The specific gravity of diamond is 3.52, while the specific gravity of moissanite is only 3.22. For unset materials, it is easy to distinguish the two with methyl iodide specific gravity solution (specific gravity 3.32).

7. Ethics: Moissanite is more ethical than diamond.

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Most people agree that moissanite is the best diamond alternative. Apart from the reasons mentioned above, moissanite doesn’t come with the ethical concerns that surround diamonds.

Moissanite mining doesn’t generally involve forced labor or using gem sales to finance rebel militias, and it doesn’t have nearly the same environmental impact that diamond mining does. And in some cases, moissanite is made in the lab.

8. Inclusions: Parallel vs. crystals, clouds, feathers…

Inclusions are small imperfections found within the structure of the stone, which are an important feature when determining clarity.

Most moissanite stones identified have inclusions, which are arranged in parallel in the form of needles. Some of them have fine, parallel lines of reflection.

In the meanwhile, the most common inclusions that you are likely to see in a diamond are crystals, clouds, feathers, twinning wisps, pinpoints, and graining.

9. Cutting: Rounded and blunt vs. sharp.

Just like a diamond, moissanite is highly durable and can come in almost any cut. However, most of the prongs of cut moissanite are more rounded and blunt, which is completely different from the sharp prongs of a diamond.

10. Polishing pattern: Parallel vs. different directions.

The polishing patterns of moissanite are parallel to each other, which is completely different from the diamond. Due to the difference in directions, diamonds have to be constantly adjusted during polishing, while moissanite can be polished in the same direction. This is especially obvious between adjacent facets.

11. Conductivity: 80% of moissanite is electrical conductors.

According to the GIA report, 80% of moissanite are electrical conductors. Among natural diamonds, only blue, blue-gray, IIb type diamonds are conductivity. Common white or light yellow diamonds are not conductive; therefore,  the conductivity meter can be used to identify diamonds and moissanite.

Conclusion

If you love the look of diamonds but have concerns over ethics, pricing, or both, the good news is that moissanite can be an excellent alternative.

Moissanite shines brighter and has a more stunning fire while costing 1/10th of the price of diamonds. Most people can’t visually distinguish the two.

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