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Lab Grown Diamonds vs Moissanite vs Cubic Zirconia - What's the Difference?

Lab-grown diamonds, Moissanite, and Cubic Zirconia. These sparkling gems grace the fingers, necks, and wrists of many, yet the differences between them can remain unclear to most. Alluring and radiant, each of these three stones possess individual characteristics that make them unique. The question is - how do they compare against each other?

What makes them similar, and what makes them different? In this article, we dive into each stone to learn about what they are, and what sets them apart.

What is a Lab-Grown Diamond?

Lab-grown diamonds are known as synthetic or cultured diamonds. They share the same physical, chemical, and optical properties as mined diamonds. The only difference is that they’re created in a controlled environment. How?

With advanced technological processes like High-Pressure High Temperature (HPHT) or Chemical Vapour Deposition (CVD). Using these processes, scientists are able to replicate the conditions under which diamonds naturally form in the Earth’s mantle. The HPHT method imitates the natural environment by applying extreme heat and pressure, while the CVD method uses gas mixtures and controlled temperatures to ‘grow’ the diamond layer by layer.

Why Lab-Grown Diamonds vs Real Diamonds?

Lab-grown diamonds are just as real as diamonds mined from the earth. They offer the same hardness, brilliance, and fire, but at a lower cost and with a more transparent background.

This more transparent background is one of the major attractions of lab-grown diamonds.

If you’re someone who feels a bit uneasy about the various social and environmental challenges associated with diamond mining, then a lab-grown Diamond might be a more suitable alternative. Because diamonds are created in controlled environments, you can rest assured that these concerns are often entirely eliminated.

With respect to costs, lab diamonds are usually 70 - 80% less expensive than natural diamonds because the process of creating them is more efficient and cost-effective than the process of mining them. This means that with these lab-grown diamonds, you get much more value for your money compared to their mined counterparts

What is Cubic Zirconia?

Cubic Zirconia are gemstones that are manufactured to look like diamonds. While they do occur naturally, they are incredibly rare to find in nature.

These stones are made of synthesised crystalline material, unlike natural diamonds which are formed over billions of years deep underground.

The creation of cubic zirconia usually involves the use of zirconium dioxide (ZrO2) crystals, which are melted and stabilised with other elements to form the clear, brilliant stones we see in jewellery. The hardness of CZ falls on 8.5 on the Mohs scale, which is softer than both diamonds and moissanite, which are 10 and 9.25 on the scale, respectively.

What is Moissanite?

Moissanite is referred to as a diamond simulant because it’s engineered to give the illusion of a diamond while being chemically different.

Like cubic zirconia, moissanite is a gemstone that can rarely be found in nature, so it’s commonly created in man-made labs.

Discovered in 1893, Moisannite was notably first found within a meteorite. Its founder - Dr. Henry Moissan, discovered microscopic particles of the gem in a meteorite that fell to earth. At first, he thought he had discovered diamonds, but then realised upon further inspection that the crystals were composed of silicon carbide rather than carbon.

Moissanite exhibits a higher refractive index that ranges from 2.65 to 2.69, giving it more “fire” or a rainbow-like play of colours. The hardness is also notable, ranking it at 9.25 on the Mohs scale, so while it’s slightly less than a diamond’s perfect 10, it’s still higher than cubic zirconia. This durability makes it popular for daily wear.

Diamonds: Comparing Lab-Grown diamonds, Cubic Zirconia, and Moissanite

In the world of gemstones, understanding the nuances of each type is crucial, especially when it comes to choosing one that resonates with your preferences and budget.

When comparing lab-grown diamonds, moissanite, and cubic zirconia, each boasts unique attributes, catering to various aesthetic preferences and price points.

Lab-Grown Diamonds are virtually identical to natural diamonds not just in its broad appearance, but also in terms of hardness, brilliance, and fire. This similarity extends to colour as well. lab-grown diamonds are subjected to the same rigorous Gemological Institute of America (GIA) grading system as their natural counterparts. They can range from being entirely colourless to having a slight tint, largely dependent on the intricacies of their production and the quality assurance processes in place.

Diverging slightly in its appearance from diamonds, moissanite is renowned for having more brilliance and fire than that of a diamond - courtesy of its higher refractive index. While it stands nearly shoulder to shoulder with diamonds in terms of durability, its colour profile has subtle differences that can be easily recognized by the discerning eye. Primarily available in near-colourless variations, moissanite can, in certain lighting conditions, exhibit a faint yellow or even a greenish hue.

Cubic Zirconia, the most budget-friendly of the three, although softer and slightly less brilliant than lab-grown diamonds and moissanite, manages to hold its own. It captures the essence of diamonds in its appearance, but its chemical composition brings about a signature colourless and flawless look. Additionally, while predominantly colourless, cubic zirconia can be fashioned into diverse hues based on preferences. It's worth noting though, that the less expensive versions might possess subtle undertones of yellow or appear off-white. The final colour is often a result of the stone's unique composition combined with the specifics of its production process.

To wrap up, while all three gemstones generally come with a more approachable price tag compared to natural diamonds, their subtle colour variations and individual characteristics make each a unique choice worth considering.

Choosing the Right Stone for You

Choosing the right gemstone isn’t just a decision, it’s a statement.

If you’re in the market for something that sparkles and looks nice, cubic zirconia and moissanite are two notable gemstones perfect for occasional wear.

If you’re looking for real diamonds though, and want an option that’s ethically responsible and able to give you the most value for your budget, lab-grown diamonds are the clear choice.

If you’re in the market for lab-grown Diamonds, VENA NOVA stands as the premiere destination for such stones. Our local showroom in Calgary has one of the largest collections of lab-grown diamonds in the country. We invite you to visit us to experience the brilliance and quality of our collection firsthand