The Difference Between Lab-Created Diamonds & Diamond Alternatives


Jewelry Basics

There are more options than ever before for diamond alternatives. With a simple internet search, you can find rings with moissanite, cubic zirconia (CZ), white sapphires, lab-created diamonds, and more. But what’s the difference between these? And what’s a lab-created diamond?

Sifting through all of the information about diamond alternatives and simulants can be time-consuming. We created a quick reference guide to educate you on diamond alternatives and lab-created diamonds.

White Sapphire: White sapphire is available in natural and lab-created varieties. Natural white sapphires are typically more expensive than lab-created stones, and they can look milkier and have visible inclusions. Lab-created white sapphires are clearer and more affordable than their natural counterparts. White sapphires are extremely durable, but they are not nearly as brilliant, fiery, or sparkly as a diamond. 

Lab-Created Diamonds: Unlike the alternatives listed above, lab-created diamonds are diamonds. They have the same optical, chemical, and physical properties as natural diamonds that are mined from the earth. Lab-created diamonds are formed in a lab using high pressure and high temperature. KAY’s Modern Creation Lab-created Diamonds are colorless and rate SI2 to VS and above in clarity. You can learn more about lab-created diamonds here.

Moissanite: This simulant is a silicon carbide crystal that’s made in a lab. It is extremely hard, but still more likely to scratch than a diamond. It has a lot of fire—a rainbow effect seen when light hits the stone—but moissanite lacks the brilliance and sparkle of a diamond. This rainbow effect can also make it look more fake. Many moissanites are colorless, but it is more susceptible to color changes from heat. The color likely won’t hold up as well as a diamond over time. KAY does not offer moissanite products at this time.

Cubic Zirconia (CZ): This is probably the most commonly known diamond alternative. CZ is often found in children’s and costume jewelry, but it is sometimes used in placeholder and lower quality engagement rings. It is an artificially produced version of the element zircon. Colorless CZ is common, but its brilliance is easily diminished when it gets dirty. It weighs almost twice as much as a diamond, and, like moissanite, has a lot of fire. It is often cut with larger facets to make this less noticeable, but those large facets can also make it look more fake. CZ has good hardness, but it scratches more easily than a diamond. KAY does not currently offer CZ engagement rings.

Why choose a diamond alternative? Simulants and diamond alternatives are excellent options for placeholder stones. They may be less expensive than a diamond of the same size, but they are not as beautiful or brilliant. Only a real diamond can give you that brilliance, fire, and sparkle. Lab-created diamonds are an affordable option that have the lasting beauty and durability of a diamond. And, like all diamonds from KAY, they are 100% conflict-free.