How to Differentiate Between Moissanite and Diamond: A Comprehensive Guide

Are you fascinated by gemstones and want to learn how to tell if it’s moissanite vs diamond? Differentiating between the two can be challenging, especially if you’re not a gemologist. However, there are simple techniques you can use to identify whether a gemstone is a moissanite or a diamond.

Distinguishing Moissanite and Diamond

Before diving into the identification process, it’s essential to understand the unique properties that set moissanite and diamond apart from each other. Diamonds are natural gemstones formed deep within the Earth’s mantle. Composed of pure carbon, they are renowned for their exceptional hardness and brilliance. Natural diamonds are typically found in kimberlite and lamproite rock formations, as well as in xenoliths.

On the other hand, moissanite is a lab-created gemstone made of silicon carbide. It was first discovered in a meteorite in 1893 by French scientist Henri Moissan. While natural moissanite is incredibly rare, trace amounts can be found in specific types of rocks.

One notable difference between moissanite and diamond is their hardness. Diamonds score a perfect 10 on the Mohs scale, making them the hardest known natural substance. Moissanite, while still very durable, scores 9.25 on the Mohs scale.

Additionally, moissanite has a higher refractive index than diamond, meaning it can reflect more light. This gives moissanite a more brilliant and fiery appearance compared to diamond.

Lastly, moissanite is a more affordable alternative to diamond. While both gems possess their beauty, moissanite’s lower price is attributed to its lab-created nature, as opposed to diamonds’ natural origin and rarity.

Understanding these differences will aid you in identifying which gemstone you have. Although both gems are stunning, their unique characteristics set them apart.

How to Tell if it’s Moissanite vs Diamond

To determine whether a gemstone is moissanite or diamond, you can utilize several straightforward tricks. Here are some essential factors to consider:


Diamonds rank as one of the hardest substances on Earth, scoring a perfect 10 on the Mohs scale. Moissanite, although still hard, scores 9.25 on the same scale. As a result, diamonds are more scratch-resistant than moissanite.


Under a microscope, diamonds exhibit a cubic crystal structure, while moissanite features a hexagonal crystal structure.


Diamonds have a high refractive index, resulting in their characteristic sparkle and brilliance. Moissanite also has a high refractive index but possesses a different type of sparkle. Moissanite displays a rainbow-like sparkle, whereas diamonds exhibit a white sparkle.


Moissanite possesses a higher refractive index than diamonds, causing it to bend light more. Consequently, moissanite may appear slightly larger than diamonds of the same carat weight.

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Moissanite handles extreme temperatures better than diamonds. If you plan on wearing jewelry in demanding conditions, such as saunas or hot tubs, moissanite may be a more suitable choice.

Crystal Habit

Diamonds have a distinct crystal habit, exhibiting a specific shape and growth pattern. In contrast, moissanite can display a variety of crystal habits and shapes.

Thermal Conductivity

Diamonds have high thermal conductivity, meaning they conduct heat well. Moissanite, on the other hand, has lower thermal conductivity, which makes it feel cooler to the touch compared to diamonds.

Double Refraction

Moissanite exhibits double refraction, splitting light into two rays. This characteristic causes a doubling effect in the gemstone, visible under a microscope.

Considering these factors will enable you to differentiate between moissanite and diamonds. By examining their unique characteristics, you can make an informed decision about your jewelry.

Appearance and Brilliance

When it comes to appearance and brilliance, moissanite and diamond share some similarities and differences. Both stones are known for their sparkle, but they reflect light differently.

Diamonds produce a white flash and rainbow-like spectral colors due to their high refractive index. Moissanite, with an even higher refractive index, possesses more fire or spectral colors. This explains why moissanite is sometimes referred to as a “rainbow stone.”

In sunlight, moissanite may exhibit a green or yellow tint, while diamonds appear colorless or near colorless. This variation stems from moissanite’s different color grading scale and its susceptibility to lighting conditions.

Regarding brilliance, both moissanite and diamond offer a high level of sparkle. However, moissanite’s faceting pattern gives it a more pronounced “disco ball” effect. The different faceting pattern of moissanite reflects light uniquely compared to diamonds.

Table size, the flat surface on top of a gemstone, also affects appearance. A larger table can enhance brightness, while a smaller table increases reflectivity.

In summary, moissanite and diamond possess their distinct qualities in terms of appearance and brilliance. While diamonds showcase a white flash and fire, moissanite dazzles with rainbow-like spectral colors and a “disco ball” effect.

Quality Assessment and Certification

When evaluating the quality of a moissanite or diamond, several factors come into play. Clarity is one crucial aspect, referring to the presence or absence of imperfections, known as inclusions, within the stone. Moissanites, grown in controlled environments, generally exhibit better clarity than diamonds.

Certification is another significant consideration. The Gemological Institute of America (GIA) and the International Gemological Institute (IGI) are reputable organizations that provide certification for both diamonds and moissanites. Certification aids in assessing the quality of the stone you’re considering.

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It’s worth noting that moissanites may contain different types of inclusions compared to diamonds. Understanding these distinctions, such as needle-like inclusions in moissanites and feather-like inclusions in diamonds, helps determine the gemstone’s identity.

Diamond testers can also help differentiate between moissanites and diamonds. These devices measure the thermal conductivity of the stone, as moissanites exhibit different thermal properties than diamonds.

Considering clarity, certification, imperfections, and the use of diamond testers provides a comprehensive evaluation of moissanite or diamond quality. Armed with this knowledge, you can make an informed decision about the right stone for you.

Variety and Design Options

Variety and design options are crucial when selecting an engagement ring. Both moissanite and diamond offer a range of design possibilities, with a few differences to consider.

Diamonds come in various shapes, sizes, and colors. Popular diamond cuts for engagement rings include round, princess, cushion, and oval. Additionally, diamonds can be accented with smaller diamonds or other gemstones, creating unique designs.

Moissanite engagement rings also provide a wide range of design options. Like diamonds, moissanite comes in various shapes and sizes, such as round, princess, cushion, and oval. Different settings, including prong, bezel, and halo, can feature moissanite. Moissanite can also be accented with smaller moissanite stones or other gemstones for stunning designs.

Compared to diamonds, moissanite is a more affordable option, allowing greater design possibilities within a budget. Cubic zirconia is another affordable option, but it lacks the durability of moissanite or diamond and may become scratched or cloudy over time.

Ultimately, the choice between moissanite and diamond boils down to personal preference and budget. Both options offer design versatility, with moissanite offering a more cost-effective alternative to diamond.

Cost and Value

When it comes to cost and value, moissanite presents an excellent alternative to diamonds. Moissanite is significantly less expensive than diamonds, making it an appealing option for budget-conscious buyers.

The cost of moissanite depends on the size and quality of the stone. Generally, moissanite costs about one-tenth the price of diamonds of the same size and quality. For example, a one-carat diamond can cost over $5,000, while a one-carat moissanite can be purchased for around $500.

In terms of value, moissanite offers the look of a diamond without the hefty price tag. Although moissanite may not possess the same resale value as a diamond, it is a durable and beautiful stone that can last a lifetime with proper care.

Carat weight plays a significant role in the price of both diamonds and moissanite. While moissanite is generally less expensive, larger stones will still come with a higher price tag.

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Ultimately, if you desire a beautiful stone that sparkles like a diamond while adhering to a budget, moissanite is a fantastic option. It delivers a similar look and durability at a fraction of the cost.

Historical and Geographical Significance

For those intrigued by moissanite, understanding its history and origin adds to the allure. Moissanite was initially discovered by French chemist Henri Moissan in an Arizona meteorite crater over 120 years ago. While examining rock samples from the crater, Moissan mistook silicon carbide crystals for diamonds. Later, he realized these crystals were an entirely new mineral.

The gemstone was subsequently named after its discoverer and has gained popularity as a diamond alternative. In the early 2000s, Charles & Colvard, a North Carolina-based company, patented a process for creating gem-quality moissanite. They sell moissanite under the brand names Forever One, Forever Brilliant, and Forever Classic.

Arizona’s meteor crater remains an important site for moissanite enthusiasts. Created around 50,000 years ago when a meteorite struck the Earth, the crater is open for exploration, offering insight into the area’s history.

In summary, moissanite possesses a captivating history and unique geographical significance. Whether you’re shopping for an engagement ring or simply curious about gemstones, exploring this beautiful and unusual mineral is worth your while.

Key Takeaways

Distinguishing moissanite from diamonds presents several key takeaways to remember:

  • Composition: Moissanite comprises a silicon carbide compound, while diamonds are made of carbon. These differences affect appearance and properties.
  • Brilliance: Moissanite’s higher refractive index results in enhanced light dispersion and increased brilliance. However, this can also yield a more “rainbow-like” or “disco ball-like” sparkle in certain lighting conditions.
  • Color: Moissanite may exhibit a yellow or greenish tint, particularly in larger sizes or lower quality stones. Diamonds are usually colorless or near-colorless, occasionally displaying a yellow or brown hue depending on grade.
  • Durability: While moissanite is relatively hard (9.25 on the Mohs scale), it is not as durable as diamond (10 on the Mohs scale). Therefore, moissanite might be more prone to scratches, chips, or other damage over time.
  • Price: Moissanite generally costs less than diamonds, with the price difference depending on size, quality, and setting. If you are budget-conscious or seeking a more affordable alternative to diamond, moissanite is a viable option.

Overall, your choice between moissanite and diamond hinges on personal preferences, budget, and priorities. By considering these key takeaways, you can make an informed decision suiting your needs.