There are many diamond alternatives for purchase in today's jewelry market, making the choices seem endless when it comes time to narrow down a preferred stone option.
Moissanite and cubic zirconia are some of the most common man-made diamond alternatives. Which is better cz or moissanite, and what is the best selection for your engagement ring, wedding band, anniversary ring, and other keepsake designs? Both exhibit remarkable attributes, resulting in a distinctive appearance synonymous with that stone. This article will cover all aspects of moissanite vs cz, the difference between moissanite and cubic zirconia, and how to tell moissanite from cz meanwhile comparing them both with key takeaways at the end.
Properties of Cubic Zirconia: Fashion-Forward Beauty
Chemical Composition and Origin
Natural cubic zirconia was discovered in 1937 as an inclusion in natural zircon crystals by German mineralogists M.V. Stackelberg and K Chudoba. Synthetic cubic zirconia was invented in Russia in the 1970s, initially used only for laser technology. Cubic zirconia was noted as a brilliantly beautiful stone reminiscent of natural diamonds, making it perfect for jewelry making at a fraction of the cost and labor resources of diamonds. Cubic zirconia production is approximately 60 million carats per year (Gemological Institute of America).
Cubic zirconia (often shortened to the acronym "cz") is the cubic crystalline form of zirconium dioxide (ZrO2). Synthesized cubic zirconia crystals are formed over hours of heat, melting zirconium oxide powder with stabilizers like magnesium and calcium at 4,982ºF. These cubic zirconia crystals are cut and polished, ready for setting.
Optical Properties (Refractive Index and Dispersion)
Cubic zirconia's refractive index measures 2.15–2.18. The refractive index is a measurement that defines the stones as the ability to bend light. Minerals (synthetic and natural) are measured on the refractive index scale ranging from 1.2–3. How is the refractive index measured? Refractive index liquid is used with equipment called the refractometer for gemstone/mineral identification. Refractive index information is available in a chart/table form, providing full reference for determining the stone's identification.
Cubic zirconia has a vitreous (glassy) luster with a very high dispersion at 0.058 -- 0.066. Dispersion refers to white light passing through the gemstone at different speeds, dispersing the light (fire). This dispersion is higher than a diamond, resulting in an incredible fire with a very unique rainbow effect. Cubic zirconia has a specific gravity of 5.6-6.0 g/cm3, which is a measurement that defines the density of gemstones.
Hardness & Durability
Cubic zirconia has a hardness of 8.250-8.50 on the Mohs scale of hardness. The Mohs hardness scale ranges from 1-10 scale, and was developed to identify minerals and their scratch resistance tendencies, or the ability for a harder mineral to scratch a softer mineral (Diamond is a 10 on the scale, while talc is a 1, for example). Cubic zirconia's high rating suggests cubic zirconia is relatively hard in comparison to the other minerals, making it suitable for cutting, faceting, and jewelry design.
Despite cubic zirconia’s hardness, it is known to abrade around the facet junctions, visibly showing damage around these edges over years of wear and tear, losing its sparkle. Cubic zirconia also scratches during normal daily activities if it is bumped or knocked. Removing cubic zirconia jewelry before household cleaning, working out, and lifting objects will help prevent permanent damage to the stone.
Appearance, Cost & Availability
Cubic zirconia is known for its colorless/clear (like a diamond) appearance. It is also frequently created into a gorgeous rainbow of colors, imitating fancy color diamonds and natural gemstones. These enticing hues include pink (called Pink Ice), blue, green, yellow, bi-colored/parti-colored, and more, making cubic zirconia an incredibly versatile stone used as a replacement for birthstone gem jewelry and other vibrant creations.
Cubic zirconia is very inexpensive, with a cut and polished one carat cubic zirconia stone costing approximately $20 and a similar two carat stone priced at $30 (Gem Society). Cubic zirconia is ultra-versatile for jewelry, set into fine metals, such as silver and gold, gold-plated/gold filled, and alloy metals. The type of metal used for the design also reflects on the price.
Properties of Moissanite: A Sparkling Sustainable Option
Natural moissanite was discovered in Arizona by Nobel Prize-winning chemist Dr. Henri Moissan in 1893, hence the name moissanite. Natural moissanite is actually a very rare, expensive mineral found in the upper mantle rock and meteorites, rarer than diamonds. Moissanite commonly refers to synthetic or man made moissanite.
Chemical Composition & Origin
Gem-quality moissanite was first introduced by Charles Eric Hunter, who formed the company Charles & Colvard Ltd. Moissanite was patented in the US in North Carolina. Synthetic moissanite is created under extreme pressurized environments and may contain the elements boron, nitrogen, and sulfur.
Moissanite is composed of silicon carbide (SiC), with a carbon atom surrounded by four silicon atoms in a tetrahedral form. Moissanite has a hardness of 9.25 on the Mohs hardness scale, making it incredibly durable and scratch resistant. As mentioned above, diamond is a 10, making moissanite stronger than many minerals.
Optical Properties (Refractive Index and Dispersion)
Moissanite has a refractive index of 2.65 to 2.69 with an adamantine to metallic luster, making it the most brilliant gemstone–more brilliant than diamond and cubic zirconia. Moissanite is known as the world’s most brilliant gemstone, displaying an incredible sparkle.
Moissanite also displays highly dispersive double refractivity (fire). This phenomenon can be seen when a faceted moissanite is viewed under a microscope or a jeweler’s loop, with the facet junctions doubling next to each other.
Moissanite has a specific gravity of 3.218 -- 3.22, compared to diamonds which have a 3.14.
Appearance, Cost & Availability
Since the introduction to the market from Charles and Colvard, moissanite has seen a boom in popularity for those who seek a sustainable, ethical, and socially-conscious alternative to natural earth-mined diamonds. Moissanite is a clear/colorless stone that may have a very slight yellow to green tint that becomes more noticeable with larger caratage stones. Moissanite can also appear with blue or green undertones, with colorful flashes as it reflects the light.
Moissanite is widely available on fine jewelry websites and fine jewelry stores for purchase, beautifully set into premium metals. Depending on the quality, a 1 ctw moissanite can average a cost between $200 -$600.
Comparing Cubic Zirconia & Moissanite
Moissanite and cubic zirconia are great solutions for those seeking a more affordable eco-friendly alternative to natural earth-mined diamonds. Cubic zirconia is significantly less costly than moissanite. It's considered a prestigious, higher quality diamond simulant.
Cubic zirconia and moissanite are both synthetic/man made stones created in a lab. They are not diamonds or lab created diamonds, but they are “real” stones (not glass, plastic, or rhinestones!)-–just man made. Lab created diamonds are grown in a lab and mimic the same physical and optical properties as diamonds--they should not be confused with moissanite or cubic zirconia, which are dissimilar to each other and diamonds.
Durability & Maintenance: Quality Assessment
Moissanite is harder, more durable, and scratch resistant than cubic zirconia. As mentioned above, cubic zirconia rates 8.25-8.50, where moissanite rates 9.25, making moissanite a more practical option for an engagement ring, wedding band, anniversary ring, or promise ring for the long term. Celebrate your next special moment with a moissanite tennis bracelet for your beloved, showcasing the modern luxury of a moissanite and classic elegance of a tennis bracelet.
Moissanite’s value is evaluated using the 4C's scale, which is the same scale developed for diamond grading by the Gemological Institute of America. The color scale consists of D-E-F (colorless), G-H-I (near colorless), and J-K (faint color), with more apparent color after K.
Moissanite uses the clarity scale developed by GIA, from F (flawless) to I3 (included). Moissanite contains thin needle-like inclusions resulting from the synthesized formation process, which denotes the clarity grade given after the unique growth characteristics have been evaluated.
If there is quality assessment for cubic zirconia, there may be the AAAA, AAA, AA, A quality scale, with AAAA notating the higher quality stone. Cubic zirconia rarely, if ever, contains inclusions.
Similarities & Differences in Appearance: Style Options
Moissanite vs. cz: what is the difference? There are also some similarities. Moissanite is available in many shapes, just like cubic zirconia. Faceted round brilliant, marquise, radiant, princess, radiant, emerald, cushion, oval, trillion/triangular/trapezoid, and baguette cut moissanite and cubic zirconia are available in a center setting or as side stones.
Price & Value: Certifications & Authenticity
Is moissanite better than cubic zirconia? Moissanite is significantly more costly than cubic zirconia, commonly set only into premium metals. Moissanite jewelry may be accompanied by certifications from the store/website upon purchase or jewelry appraisals from an independent jewelry professional for insurance and other purposes. Always consider your personal needs when analyzing moissanite vs. zirconia. Cubic zirconia is not appraised or certified because of its low value, making the worth of zirconia vs moissanite easy to determine.
Key Points for Comparison
Do you know how to tell the difference between cubic zirconia and moissanite? There are a lot of considerations when comparing moissanite vs cz.
Is cubic zirconia better than moissanite?
Cubic zirconia is synonymous with costume jewelry, although it is set into any metal. Cubic zirconia allows the fantasy of large and bold jewelry–but with friendly price points. Indulge in the design of your dreams with an affordably priced item featuring cubic zirconia, a glamorous man-made stone with sparkle and shine. Cubic zirconia tennis bracelets, engagement rings, pendants/necklaces, and more can be used to substitute for the “real thing” if you are worried about your jewelry getting lost and stolen, or do not wish to invest in fine jewelry. Cubic zirconia engagement rings are popular for those who seek a more affordable glitzy look without the price tag of diamonds or moissanite.
Long story short - yes, moissanite is better than moissanite. It beats cubic zirconia from many aspects.
What is the main difference between cubic zirconia and moissanite?
Moissanite and cubic zirconia have different price points, optical, and physical properties, allowing them to be distinguished from each other easily by jewelry professionals and other jewelry enthusiasts.
What is the difference between cz and moissanite?
Moissanite is a high-quality, durable diamond alternative that is also man made, just like cubic zirconia. Moissanite has incredibly high brilliance, displaying its trademark double refractivity, unlike cubic zirconia which has significantly less brilliance, allowing the light to pass through the stone with low reflectivity.
Moissanite versus cubic zirconia: what is the difference between moissanite and cubic zirconia? Moissanite jewelry has some resale value. It is the perfect choice for purchasing as a keepsake piece of jewelry you can wear frequently. Moissanite is a worthy investment–like an heirloom quality piece of jewelry from generation to generation.
Is moissanite better than cubic zirconia? Cubic zirconia does not have a resale value due to its always budget-friendly price points. Cubic zirconia is a chic statement, perfect for wearing as a fast-fashion accessory.