As diamond and jewellery specialists, we often receive questions about the differences between natural diamonds, lab-grown diamonds, and moissanites. In this blog, we will delve into the unique features of each and help you make an informed decision when it comes to choosing the perfect stone for your jewellery.
Natural diamonds are formed deep within the Earth’s mantle, under high pressure and temperature. Over millions of years, carbon atoms are subjected to these extreme conditions, causing them to bond and crystallise into the structure that we know as diamonds. Natural diamonds are then mined from the Earth’s surface and undergo a process of sorting, cutting, and polishing to create the beautiful stones we see in jewellery.
Lab-grown diamonds, also known as synthetic or cultured diamonds, are produced in a laboratory setting. The process involves replicating the high-pressure and high-temperature conditions that occur in the Earth’s mantle to create diamonds. There are two main methods of growing lab-grown diamonds: High-Pressure High-Temperature (HPHT) and Chemical Vapour Deposition (CVD). The HPHT method uses a seed crystal and a press to create the necessary high pressure and temperature conditions, while the CVD method involves a gas mixture that is heated to create diamond crystals on a substrate. Once the diamond is grown, it undergoes the same sorting, cutting, and polishing process as a natural diamond to create a finished stone.
Moissanites are a type of silicon carbide crystal that was first discovered in a meteorite in 1893. While they are not diamonds, they share many of the same physical and chemical properties. Moissanites are created in a laboratory setting by growing silicon carbide crystals under high pressure and temperature conditions. Once the crystals are grown, they are sorted, cut, and polished to create a finished stone that is often used as a diamond alternative in jewellery.
In terms of their properties, natural diamonds are the hardest mineral on Earth, with a rating of 10 on the Mohs hardness scale. Lab-grown diamonds have the same properties as natural diamonds and are just as hard and durable. Moissanites are not as hard as diamonds, with a rating of 9.25 on the Mohs scale, but they are still a very durable stone that can be used in jewellery.
Now that we know what the physical differences are between these three options, let’s take a look at how they differ in terms of price, brilliance and durability.
Natural diamonds are the most expensive of the three options due to their rarity and the cost of mining and processing. Natural diamonds form deep within the earth’s mantle, and only a small fraction of them are suitable for jewellery. This makes them highly valuable and sought after, as they are a finite resource. In contrast, lab-grown diamonds and moissanites are manufactured in a laboratory, making them less expensive to produce than natural diamonds. This makes lab-grown diamonds and moissanites more affordable options for those looking for high-quality stones without the high price tag.
There are several reasons why natural diamonds are more expensive than lab-grown diamonds:
- Rarity: Natural diamonds are extremely rare and take millions of years to form. The supply of natural diamonds is limited, and only a small percentage of diamonds found are of gemstone quality. This rarity drives up the price of natural diamonds.
- Mining and Production Costs: Natural diamonds require extensive mining and production costs. The mining process is expensive and often requires heavy machinery and specialised equipment. Once a natural diamond is mined, it must be sorted, cut, and polished by skilled craftsmen, which also adds to the production costs.
- Marketing and Branding: The natural diamond industry has invested heavily in marketing and branding over the years. This investment has created a perception of diamonds as a luxury product, which has helped to increase the demand for natural diamonds and further drive up their price.
- Emotional Value: Diamonds have long been associated with love, commitment, and special occasions such as engagements and weddings. The emotional value attached to natural diamonds can also contribute to their higher price.
While lab-grown diamonds and moissanites share many similarities, there are some key differences that can account for the price difference between the two.
- Lab-grown diamonds require more advanced technology and resources to produce. The process of growing a diamond in a lab requires a lot of energy and specialised equipment.
- The demand for lab-grown diamonds is higher than for moissanites. As lab-grown diamonds have become more widely available and accepted as a diamond alternative, more consumers are opting for them.
- The quality and rarity of diamonds can also contribute to their higher price. While lab-grown diamonds can be produced in large quantities, high-quality stones with exceptional clarity and color are rarer and therefore more valuable. Moissanites, on the other hand, are produced with more consistent quality and do not have the same rarity factor as diamonds.
- It’s worth noting that the pricing of lab-grown diamonds is also influenced by the diamond industry as a whole. While they are still considered an alternative to natural diamonds, lab-grown diamonds are increasingly being recognised as a legitimate and sustainable option. As such, their pricing is starting to reflect their value as a diamond rather than simply as an alternative.
Brilliance refers to the amount of light that a stone reflects. Natural diamonds and lab-grown diamonds have a higher refractive index than moissanites, which means they reflect more light and have more brilliance and fire. The refractive index is a measure of how much light is bent when it passes through a material, and this is what gives diamonds their characteristic sparkle. While moissanites are still very brilliant, they may not have the same depth and intensity as diamonds.
Durability refers to a stone’s ability to withstand wear and tear over time. Natural diamonds are the hardest mineral on earth and are known for their durability. Lab-grown diamonds have the same properties as natural diamonds, making them just as durable. In contrast, moissanites are not as hard as diamonds, making them slightly more prone to scratches. However, moissanites are still a very durable stone, making them a popular choice for jewellery.
In conclusion, when it comes to selecting a stone for your jewellery, the choice comes down to personal preference and budget. Natural diamonds are a timeless and luxurious option, but they come with a higher price tag due to their rarity. Lab-grown diamonds offer the same beauty and durability as natural diamonds at a lower price point, making them an excellent alternative for those looking for high-quality stones without breaking the bank. Moissanites are a sustainable and affordable alternative that still offer a brilliant and durable stone that can make an excellent choice for those on a budget. At Stonz, we offer a wide range of natural diamonds, lab-grown diamonds, and moissanites to ensure that you find the perfect stone for your jewellery needs.
Understanding the differences between natural diamonds, lab-grown diamonds, and moissanites can help you make an informed decision when selecting the perfect stone for your jewellery. Whether you prefer the luxury and rarity of natural diamonds, the affordability and sustainability of lab-grown diamonds, or the brilliance and durability of moissanites, there is a stone out there that will fit your needs and budget. At Stonz, we offer a wide range of options to ensure that you find the perfect stone for your jewellery needs.