Marriage and diamonds are just a few of the things that millennials have been accused of killing. But while it’s not really accurate to say that millennials aren’t buying diamonds (or getting married, for that matter), it is true that they are buying differently.
The high price tag and ethical concerns over mined diamonds are just a couple of reasons that people are opting for lab-grown stones or alternative gems, like the lookalike moissanite, for engagement rings.
Moissanite is one of a handful of common diamond alternatives, which include coloured stones like sapphires, rubies, and emeralds. But compared to other gems, moissanite is almost visually indistinguishable from a diamond and, as the second-hardest stone used by jewellery makers, is also similar in durability.
Here are a few reasons to consider a moissanite engagement ring.
What’s the difference between moissanite and diamonds?
If you’re going for the look of a diamond but can’t stomach actually buying a diamond, moissanite is about as close as you can get.
Price: Moissanite is cheaper
One of the biggest barriers to diamond buying is the cost. Even a very small diamond of good quality is unaffordable for many — unattainable on a tight budget, and nonsensical for those who simply would rather spend their money elsewhere.
Moissanite is about 10% of the cost of a diamond of similar size and quality. So if you’re wanting a larger stone, moissanite gives you bigger bang for your buck.
Ethics: Moissanite is synthetic
You can certainly buy a lab-grown diamond, but all moissanite stones are synthetic rather than mined, which mitigates many concerns over the ethics of the diamond industry. Moissanite is naturally occurring but not in large enough chunks to be cut into usable gems.
Appearance: Moissanite is almost identical
To the average person, moissanite is indistinguishable from diamond, and it’s unlikely anyone will be able to tell just by looking at your stone.
A few very minor differences: moissanite may change colour slightly based on lighting, though it’s possible to get “colourless” stones. It may also reflect coloured rather than white light. However, it’s unlikely to contain any visible imperfections, which less expensive diamonds tend to have.
Durability: Moissanite is almost as strong as diamonds
One downside to gems other than diamonds is that they are softer and more prone to damage, which isn’t ideal for an engagement ring you’ll wear every day. Moissanite is as close to diamond as you can get when it comes to durability, and it’s unlikely to chip or crack.
Should you buy a moissanite or cubic zirconia ring?
Cubic zirconia is another clear stone that appears similar to a diamond, but it’s far less durable and more porous, meaning it’s prone to scratches, breaks, and dulling over time. It’s a relatively cheap (and synthetic) alternative, but cubic zirconia stones may need to be replaced at some point. There are other clear stone options, too, though they vary widely in terms of brilliance and durability.
How to choose a moissanite stone
If you want an engagement ring and decide that moissanite is the way to go, there are a few shopping strategies to keep in mind:
- Compare prices: Online jewellers may charge less than your local jewellery store, but price isn’t always everything. Shopping around may at least give you a better idea of what’s reasonable and some leverage to negotiate.
- Bigger may not be better: Just because you can afford a much larger moissanite stone does not mean you should go that route. Bigger stones may have more obvious colour variance.
- Don’t settle for imperfections: Most moissanite is what’s referred to as “eye clean,” which is why there’s no reason to pay for a dull stone, with surface scratches or one that looks off in colour.
This article has been updated since its original publish date.