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When buying a stone for any occasion, you want that stone to be a cut above the rest. But, let’s face it, the price tag is a deciding factor. You may have started looking already and decided that for financial and ethical reasons, those mined diamonds aren’t for you. So, where do you turn?
For years, diamond simulants were the answer. They look like the real deal at a quick glance and don’t break the bank. But, before you make that big decision, consider: What are you really buying when you choose a diamond simulant? What’s the difference between lab grown diamonds vs CZ diamonds?
Cubic Zirconia (CZ), the most popular diamond simulant on the market, has great clarity and color. Yet, its brilliance tends to be dulled over time due to dirt accumulation, and the stone is sometimes criticized for looking glassy. Instead of being made from carbon, these stones are made from zirconium dioxide (ZrO2), a material that’s also used in dental work to produce crowns and bridges. Because CZ isn’t made out of carbon, it isn’t as hard as diamonds. On the Mohs scale, cubic zirconia only ranks an 8, making it far less durable than diamonds.
The verdict: With daily wear and tear, there is good chance CZ stones will eventually turn cloudy and a much higher risk that they will scratch or chip.
Moissanite, a more recent addition to the jewelry market, is made from silicon carbide (SiC), a material that was used to manufacture LEDs in the 1970s and 1980s. Therefore, it’s not surprising that these stones have a high level of brilliance and refractivity. Yet, light is reflected differently than in diamonds, causing moissanite to emit a fiery flash of rainbow colors that some consider garish. With a rating of 9.25 on the Mohs scale, moissanite is harder than CZ but also more expensive. But, be aware: some jewelers refuse to work with moissanite, which is problematic if you ever want it reset.
The verdict: Despite being more durable and sparkly than CZ, moissanite tends to have a yellow, green, or grayish tint and lack the same transparency.
While CZ and moissanite are diamond simulants, lab-grown diamonds aren’t. They have the same chemical, physical, and optical qualities as mined diamonds, meaning that they’re real, durable, and sparkly. Since diamonds are made entirely of carbon, they’re the hardest stones on the market, rating 10 on the Mohs scale. They won’t scratch, chip, or cloud-like CZ, and they have better color and transparency than moissanite.
Lab-grown diamonds have that classic white sparkle that dazzles whenever it hits the light. But, unlike mined diamonds, the prices aren’t artificially inflated to give the impression of scarcity nor are they marked up due to brand name. Furthermore, since they’re created in a lab, you can wear these stones without worrying about any environmental or human costs.
The verdict: When you wear lab-grown diamonds, you’ll be proud to show off those sparkly, eco-friendly, ethical stones. And only you will know that they cost less.