Moissanite Versus Diamonds: What’s the Difference?

The two gemstones may have a lot in common, but their differences are what matter.

diamond engagement ring

Photo by Jainé Kershner Photography

Diamonds might reign supreme in the world of engagement rings, but they certainly aren’t the only gemstone option out there. If you want something different, you have plenty of choices to consider, including stones that look remarkably similar to diamonds, such as moissanite. 

What Is Moissanite?

“Moissanite is a naturally occurring mineral called silicon carbide, which is very rare and can’t be found in nature large enough to be cut into even a one-carat gemstone,” explains Don O’Connell, president and CEO of Charles & Colvard, the original creator of moissanite. For this reason, the moissanite used in fine jewelry is created in a lab—unlike diamonds, which are naturally occurring.

However, despite their differing origins, these two gemstones have plenty in common. Ahead, O’Connell and experts Kim Kanary and Grace Lee help explain how moissanite compares to a diamond, in order to help you make the most informed decision when shopping for a ring.

Meet the Expert

  • Don O’Connell is the CEO and President of Charles & Colvard, the original creator of moissanite.
  • Kim Kanary is a certified diamontologist and senior vice president of marketing and brand management at JTV, an online jewelry shopping destination.
  • Grace Lee is a jewelry designer and founder of her eponymous fine jewelry collection. Her brand is committed to using only conflict-free diamonds and ensures that all of our vendors adhere to the Kimberley Process.

Moissanite vs. Diamonds

Moissanite vs. Diamonds



Perhaps the biggest advantage of moissanite is the price, as moissanite stones are considerably cheaper than diamonds. “A moissanite gem is approximately one-tenth the cost of a mined diamond of equal size and quality,” O’Connell says. “The value of moissanite is greater with larger carat weights.” 

More specifically, if you want a large-carat white gemstone, but don’t have the money for a large diamond, moissanite is the way to go. That's because lower quality, smaller diamonds tend to cost more than higher quality, larger moissanite stones. “For many, a colorless diamond with the highest clarity grade is completely unattainable,” O’Connell shares. “In my opinion, there is no reason to compromise overall quality with a lesser diamond."


As you may already know, diamonds are known for their durability. They are the hardest naturally occurring mineral and can withstand almost any kind of wear and tear. "On the Mohs hardness scale, diamonds are given the highest rating of 10. As it follows, diamonds are the only thing that can scratch a diamond," shares jewelry designer Grace Lee. "This hardness is just one of the reasons diamonds are highly valued."

Moissanite, on the other hand, doesn’t fall far behind. “Moissanite is the second hardest to diamonds on the Mohs hardness scale,” O’Connell says. “Based on rankings from one to 10, diamonds are a 10 and moissanite is a 9.25-9.5.”

Moissanite is a very durable option for an engagement ring stone, especially since the material doesn't scratch easily.


The most obvious difference between moissanite and diamonds is their brilliance, with moissanite possessing more brilliance than a diamond. “It has more fire and brilliance than any other gemstone, meaning it has more sparkle,” reveals O’Connell. “Because moissanite is double refractive, it is cut differently than diamonds to enhance the sparkle.”

Kanary adds, “Moissanite has over twice the dispersion value of a diamond, which means that it has a greater fire (or display of spectral colors) that is visible when you rotate the stone.” The result is a rainbow-like effect, while diamonds reflect whiter light.


“Moissanite has traditionally carried a yellowish or greenish tint to it. However, manufacturers have been perfecting the creation process over time, and you can now get high-quality moissanite that is colorless," shares Kanary.

Diamond color, however, can vary greatly. Lee explains that "Diamond color is graded on a scale from D, which is colorless, and increases in yellowish color to Z. In essence, the highest color grade would be a diamond that has no color. The color difference in one grade to another may not be noticeable to an untrained eye so a GIA certificate provides a standardized grade from an expert."

east-west engagement ring

Photo by Bonnie Sen 

Shopping Considerations

While shopping for moissanite is like shopping for any other gemstone, there are a few things to keep in mind. “The most important aspect to remember is that you can find high-quality moissanite for a reasonable price, so don’t settle for a stone that has visible imperfections in clarity or color,” Kanary says. “While moissanite can have inclusions, you should be able to find a stone that is eye clean.”

How do you know if the stone is of high quality? “Look for that high degree of fire, a bright luster, and a good polish with very minimal surface scratches,” Kanary adds. And as usual, shop with a retailer you trust in order to get the most for your money. Moissanite looks good in any setting and pairs well with any other gemstone accents, including diamonds. It’s versatile and easy to play around with, so finding a piece you love shouldn’t be difficult.

Don’t settle for a low-quality stone thinking it’s all you can afford. If you shop around, you’ll likely find higher-quality stones at the same price point. 

  • How do I clean a moissanite ring?

    You should clean your moissanite ring at least once a month. Prepare a bowl of hot water with a few drops of liquid dish soap or a non-toxic commercial jewelry cleaner, put your ring in the soapy water, and gently clean the gem with a soft-bristled toothbrush. Air dry or blot with a paper towel.

  • How is moissanite made?

    Discovered in the 19th century, moissanite (silicon carbide) has been lab-grown since the late 1990s. Scientists use a combination of pressure and heat to create crystals from silicon and carbon that are identical in structure to natural moissanite. The process is long and complex, and it takes around two to three months to create a single gem.

  • Where can I buy a moissanite ring?

    It can be harder to find moissanite at a physical jewelry store than it is to find diamonds and other gems. While you may be able to locate a shop that carries moissanite, you are more likely to have to purchase a stone from an online retailer such as Charles & Colvard.

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