Both moissanite and cubic zirconia, also known as CZ, are diamond alternatives for engagement rings and wedding bands. Is moissanite better than cubic zirconia? Let's put moissanite vs. cubic zirconia to the test and see which one comes out on top.
Moissanite vs. Cubic Zirconia
There are several things to examine when determining the difference between moissanite and CZ. Here, we'll explore six different factors that go into the selection of an engagement ring with a simulated diamond.
History and Origin
In looking at moissanite vs. CZ, each gemstone has a different history and origin. Moissanite was first discovered by Henri Moissan in 1893 in Arizona. Trace amounts of this extremely rare gemstone, which is composed of silicon carbide, were found in a crater that formed when a meteor hit the earth. There isn't enough naturally formed moissanite to make jewelry with, but over the years scientists experimented in the lab and created a way to grow moissanite.
Cubic zirconia, on the other hand, comes from zirconium oxide. When it was first discovered around the same time as moissanite, in 1892, it was thought to be worthless. In the 1930s, however, scientists experimented with melting it at extremely high temperatures, after which crystals began to form. Its use as a simulated diamond in jewelry dates to the late 1970s.
So this is one main difference between moissanite and cubic zirconia: moissanite's chemical composition is closer to actual diamonds, which are formed from pure carbon.
How hard is cubic zirconia? If you were to compare cubic zirconia vs. diamond, diamond would win every time, because it tops the scale for gemstone hardness at a perfect 10. Looking at moissanite vs. cubic zirconia, however, the two simulated diamonds are closer.
Moissanite has a hardness of 9.5 on the Mohs scale, while CZ hardness comes in at 8 to 8.5. Hardness determines durability, because it measures how resistant the gemstone is to scratching. In this case, moissanite is better than cubic zirconia for durability.
Reaction to Dirt
Since CZ isn't as hard as a diamond or moissanite, it gets dirty faster and therefore has to be cleaned more often. Moissanite contains silicon, so it’s more resistant to dirt and once again comes out on top when compared to cubic zirconia.
In a comparison of cubic zirconia vs. diamond side-by-side, CZ is cheaper than a diamond, but a diamond has worth and holds its value over time. With moissanite vs. cubic zirconia, which are both diamond simulants rather than naturally mined or synthetic lab-grown diamonds, moissanite is a better value because it offers more overall benefits than CZ.
In terms of moissanite vs. cubic zirconia price, you'll find that the cost reflects the value. Although CZ is cheaper than moissanite on a price basis alone, moissanite is a better value because it’s more durable and is more similar to a natural diamond. This means its initial worth allows it to retain value over time, something CZ doesn't can’t offer.
One of the primary features people look for in a diamond is how it reflects light. Moissanite has an incredible level of fire, which is the rainbow spectrum of light that passes through the stone, and it refracts light at an even higher level than diamond, at 2.62 compared to 2.42. To put it plainly, moissanite simply sparkles more. Cubic zirconia comes in at 2.15 on the refractive index, lower than both diamond and moissanite. Moissanite outshines both CZ and a natural diamond.
Color and Clarity
Comparing moissanite vs. cubic zirconia for color and clarity turns is where the more obvious differences come into play. CZ, as a diamond simulant, is manufactured to be completely colorless. Moissanite is produced with a more complex and longer process and its chemical composition is closer to that of natural diamond, so it can have undertones and tints rather than being just colorless.
Therefore, CZ has a more colorless appearance and higher clarity, but that’s also a drawback because these qualities are what give CZ its more artificial appearance. People can usually spot cubic zirconia as a simulated diamond, while this is more difficult with moissanite.
Which Should I Choose?
Moissanite is better than cubic zirconia on nearly every factor we've looked at in terms of a simulated diamond. The only time CZ is chosen over moissanite is when a lower price is the only consideration. This is usually not the case when it comes to engagement rings, where you’re looking for a special, timeless piece of jewelry that will last generations and hold its value.