Compare Moissanite and Cubic Zirconia

Adrienne Warber
Loose gems

If you are looking for a diamond alternative, you may want to compare moissanite and cubic zirconia to find the perfect substitute. The two synthetic gemstones closely resemble natural diamonds in quality, brilliance, and durability.

Popularity of Moissanite and Cubic Zirconia

People consider diamond alternatives because of affordability, the availability of flawless synthetic stones, and to avoid the purchase of conflict diamonds. The two most popular diamond substitutes are moissanite and cubic zirconia because of their quality and accessibility. Some versions of these manmade gems have more fire than diamonds and do not contain occlusions that commonly occur in natural gemstones. The color possibilities of the two synthetic jewels also make them great substitutes for a variety of natural gemstones.

Moissanite and Cubic Zirconia Overview

Moissanite and cubic zirconia are manmade, but both are inspired by natural substances.

Moissanite Properties and Details

Moissanite is lab created silicone carbide or carborundum, inspired by the natural mineral discovered by scientist Dr. Henri Moissan. Jewelry of this material is manmade because natural silicone carbide is extremely rare, and labs can control the results to develop flawless stones that are nearly identical to diamonds.

Moissan discovered the mineral when studying fragments of meteorites in Arizona's Diablo Canyon in 1893. It had the unusual hexagonal crystal structure that only occurs in iron-nickel meteorites. However, it was not until 1995 that lab-created moissanite emerged in the jewelry market.

Manmade moissanite jewelry comes in a variety of shades, including the following:

  • White
  • Yellow
  • Blue
  • Brown
  • Pink
  • Red

The synthetic jewel now rivals the popular cubic zirconia as an ideal diamond and gemstone substitute for fashion and fine jewelry.

Cubic Zirconia Composition and History

Cubic zirconia (CZ) is a synthetic crystal form of zirconium oxide (ZrO2), which occurs in nature. Natural ZrO2 is not gem quality and is too rare for commercial profit, but its existence inspired the first experiments to develop CZ. Russian scientists created the first CZ stones for industrial use in laser technology as a cheaper alternative to natural rubies.

In making cubic zirconia, ZrO2 is heated to high temperatures to create cubic crystals. Combining ZrO2 with various metal oxides can create colors. A rainbow of colors are possible, ranging from clear or white to red. The versatility of the material led to its use in jewelry.

Compare Moissanite and Cubic Zirconia for Jewelry

Moissanite and CZ are both excellent choices for natural gemstone alternatives.

Moissanite Pros and Cons

Moissanite is considered the closest manmade match to a natural diamond due to its durability and brilliance. In fact, moissanite registers as harder than both diamonds and CZ on the Mohs Scale of Hardness, which is the most common method of ranking mineral and gemstones hardness. The lab-created stones also can have more brilliance, fire, and luster than a diamond or CZ due to the ways its unique hexagonal structure reflects and catches light and disperses color. The cut and shape of the stone can enhance the effect.

The main problem with moissanite as a diamond substitute is that some clear or white stones may appear to have a slight gray or green tint. If present, this color tinge is sometimes only apparent in bright light.

Moissanite is also more expensive than CZ jewelry, but some people still consider both types of synthetic gems as cheap fakes despite their high quality.

Cubic Zirconia Pros and Cons

Cubic zirconia has been a standard diamond and gemstone substitute since the 1970s. This substitute is more affordable and more accessible than moissanite. The stones come in grades A through AAAAA, with five As indicating the highest quality. Fine grade CZ stones are hard to distinguish from natural diamonds without expert examination. The cubic crystal structure can produce a brilliance and fire close to a diamond, depending on the grade and cut of the stone. Clear zirconias also come closer to a diamond without the gray/green hue that occurs in some moissanites.

Hand-cut CZ look more like real diamonds and often have more brilliance than machine-cut ones. However, they do not have the luster of diamonds or moissanites. The material is also not as hard as diamonds or moissanites, making them less durable. Some stones can also have striations along the crystal.

Which One Is a Better?

Since both moissanite and zirconia are good diamond and gemstone substitutes, the question of which one suits you really depends on your preferences and budget. Here is a chart to help you compare moissanite and cubic zirconia to make your decision:

Comparison of Natural Diamonds, Moissanite and Cubic Zirconia
Gem Mohs Scale of Hardness Rating Brilliance Fire Average Price Per Carat
Natural Diamond 10.0 2.42 .044 $4550.00
Moissanite 9.25 2.65 .104 $550.00
Cubic Zirconia 8.25 2.17 .060 $75.00-$200.00

Depending on your needs, moissanite and CZ may be the perfect alternatives to diamonds. Educating yourself on these materials and their properties will help you make your decision>.

Compare Moissanite and Cubic Zirconia