When people ask us about the difference between Moissanite and diamonds, we’re naturally a bit biased in our answers. We’ve been in the diamond business for more than 35 years, and our greatest passion is seeing the heartfelt intentions our customers express with the carefully chosen jewelry they give to the most beloved people in their lives. There is truly nothing like seeing a nervous, soon-to-be-groom walk out of our showroom with a lifetime ahead of him and a diamond engagement ring burning a hole in his pocket. We think it’s tough to communicate that kind of authentic emotion with a synthetic stone made in a laboratory.
That being said, the manufacturers of Moissanite have been putting a lot of time and money into creating buzz around Moissanite since they introduced the material to the jewelry industry in 1998. So naturally, people are wondering, is Moissanite the hot new engagement ring? The answer to that question depends on whom you ask, and it has a lot to do with where marrying-age people are in their lives right now.
Millenials are the largest generation in U.S. history, and one that carries almost twice the student loan debt than the average 25-year-old just 10 years ago. More and more Millennials are putting off large purchases, like cars, homes, and engagement rings, even as they delay marriage and starting families, for financial reasons. And sure, Millennials may be moving toward a “sharing economy,” but it’s pretty much impossible to share something as personal and sentimental as an engagement ring. Naturally, many Millennials who are ready to tie the knot are considering alternatives to natural diamond engagement rings. Believe us—we work with millennial customers the better part of every working day, and Mark himself has three millennial daughters—we get it. We know many of the young people we work with are in a tough spot, and that’s why we love helping them find the right engagement at the right price.
A long-standing diamond substitute has been the cubic zirconia (CZ). But at 8 to 8.5 on the Mohs scale of hardness (with diamonds, the hardest naturally occurring mineral on Earth, rated a 10, and rock salt rated a 2), this man-made crystalline material, much like a clear plastic cup put through the dishwasher, scratches and becomes cloudy quickly and easily, making what seemed like a great deal a swift—and embarrassing—loss. Realizing this, most consumers have given up on the idea that a CZ will pass for a diamond, choosing to forgo the awkwardness of being caught in what amounts to a lie, and cubic zirconia has lost favor as a diamond substitute.
A newer cubic zirconia competitor, Moissanite, was introduced to the jewelry industry a little less than 20 years ago by Charles & Colvard (C3 Inc.), which received patents to exclusively synthesize silicon carbide gemstones until 2015 in the United States. In some ways, Moissanite and diamond are similar. Although Moissanite almost always has a yellowish-green tinge, and ranks much lower than diamonds on the Mohs scale of hardness, a benchmark of durability, Moissanite does rank somewhat higher on the Mohs scale of hardness than a cubic zirconia. But at only 9.5 on the Mohs scale, Moissanite is brittle and, like cubic zirconia, abrades quite easily.
Another major failing of Moissanite is that aesthetically speaking it doesn’t tolerate heat well. At as little as 150 degrees Fahrenheit, Moissanite can change permanently from a crystal clear, almost colorless stone to a muddier, even yellower color. This change wouldn’t matter in an industrial application, but if you choose a Moissanite engagement ring, be sure to remove it before any high-temperature daily activities, like cooking, baking, grilling, handling laundry fresh out of a hot dryer, or enjoying a sauna.
Engagement rings are also exposed to high heat through the course of regular service, such as re-sizing and re-tipping. Our knuckles naturally grow as a result of pregnancy and aging, and weight gain and loss can also affect how your rings fit, sometimes making it necessary to re-size your ring. Re-tipping is advisable when, through normal wear and tear, the prongs that hold the center stone have worn down and are built back up to hold it safely in place. Both re-sizing and re-tipping involve work with a jewelry torch, which reaches temperatures well over 6,000 degrees Fahrenheit. The gold itself reaches around 1,100 to 1,200 degrees, about 10 times hotter than needed to permanently damage a Moissanite and ruin its color. As Paris Hilton used to say, “That’s hot!” Or not. If you have a Moissanite engagement ring…
Another difference between Moissanite and natural diamonds is their dispersion, or “fire,” which refers to how a gemstone disperses light. Fans (retailers) of Moissanite laud the fact that these lab-grown gems have a greater dispersion than natural diamonds, but so does a disco ball—and, in our opinion, that’s not always a good thing. In fact, the showy display, or “disco ball effect” of a Moissanite versus a diamond is perfectly illustrated on Moissanite’s own web site (scroll about halfway down to see the picture). This gaudy, multi-color light is almost as obvious to the naked eye as it is under a microscope, and is a telltale, easily recognizable giveaway for those trying to pass off a Moissanite as a natural diamond.
Diamonds, by contrast, are so dense they slow down the speed of light more than any other colorless substance on Earth. Unimpeded, light travels at 186,000 miles per second, but diamonds slow light down to less than half that, about 80,000 miles per second, according to Robert Hazen, whose book, The Diamond Makers, is excerpted here. This slow-down causes a subconscious effect on the human brain that, although they have tried, no gemstone substitute can duplicate, Moissanite included.
If you’re considering whether to buy a diamond versus Moissanite, think about how you will feel when you pop the question. When you look down at your partner’s hand, what do you want the engagement ring you have purchased to communicate? Is it a symbol of unparalleled strength, durability and clarity, or something that can be changed and muddled with a bit of heat? Does it, like your love, bend the laws of physics? Or, like a disco ball, does it throw a garish light on everything around it? We think the choice is obvious.
Call 720-323-9909 or make an appointment online to talk to Mark about your options and payment plans that will help make this once-in-a-lifetime purchase more comfortable. We have thousands of diamonds in a variety of sizes and grades in stock, and if at some point down the line you choose to honor a special event or anniversary by upgrading your partner’s center stone, we are happy to take your trade-in for a larger diamond upgrade in the future.
Mark’s Diamonds Denver, is a locally-owned, family business, and we pride ourselves on our ability to work with all budgets—whether you have $2,000 or many times that amount to spend, we have the perfect, conflict-free diamond engagement ring for you.