Gemstones have always been prized for their beauty and allure. Two popular gemstone alternatives, moissanite and cubic zirconia, have gained prominence over the years for their striking similarity to diamonds. But how can you tell the difference between them? In this guide, we’ll take a deep dive into the distinct characteristics of moissanite and cubic zirconia, equipping you with the knowledge to distinguish between these two dazzling stones.
Moissanite: Born from the Stars
Origin and Composition
Moissanite, originally discovered in a meteorite crater, is a naturally occurring silicon carbide. However, the moissanite you find in jewelry is typically lab-created. Its chemical composition and crystal structure closely resemble that of diamonds, making it one of the most diamond-like gemstones available.
Brilliance and Sparkle
Moissanite possesses an impressive brilliance due to its exceptional refractive index, which exceeds that of diamonds. This gives it a mesmerizing sparkle that’s often described as even more fiery and colorful than a diamond’s.
With a hardness rating of 9.25 on the Mohs scale, moissanite is incredibly durable and suitable for everyday wear. It’s highly resistant to scratching and chipping, making it a practical choice for engagement rings and other jewelry.
Cubic Zirconia: A Budget-Friendly Alternative
Composition and Origin
Cubic zirconia, on the other hand, is entirely lab-created and consists of zirconium dioxide. While it lacks the cosmic origin of moissanite, it has been a popular alternative to diamonds for decades.
Brilliance and Sparkle
Cubic zirconia shares the dazzling sparkle of moissanite but may exhibit more “flash” than “fire.” Its brilliance can be just as captivating, though some might argue it lacks the complexity of moissanite’s play of colors.
Cubic zirconia is softer than moissanite, ranking at around 8 on the Mohs scale. This means it’s more susceptible to scratches and abrasions, making it less suitable for long-term everyday wear.
How to Tell Them Apart
Now that we’ve explored their characteristics, let’s discuss how to differentiate moissanite from cubic zirconia:
Brilliance Test: Observe the gem’s sparkle. Moissanite’s exceptional fire and colorful flashes may set it apart from cubic zirconia.
Hardness Test: Perform a scratch test using materials with a known hardness. Moissanite’s resistance to scratching is higher than that of cubic zirconia.
Professional Authentication: When in doubt, consult a gemologist or jeweler with expertise in identifying gemstones. They can use specialized tools to confirm the stone’s identity.