In the world of fine jewelry, the choice between natural, lab-created diamonds, and moissanite is a decision that combines aesthetics, ethics, and economics. As we delve into this sparkling debate, we turn to an expert in the field, Don O’Connell, President, and CEO of Charles & Colvard, for an illuminating discussion. Our focus is on the grandeur of 4-carat stones, a size that magnifies the qualities and distinctions of these gemstones.
In this comprehensive guide, we'll explore the nuanced differences in price, quality, color, clarity, and overall visual appeal between a 4 CT Moissanite, a lab-created diamond, and an earth-mined diamond, especially when considering the pinnacle of quality - an Internally Flawless (IF) D color diamond. As we compare these jewels under the critical lenses of the 4 C's - Cut, Color, Clarity, and Carat - each aspect sheds light on what makes each stone unique and covetable.
From the precise art of the cut, which defines a diamond's interaction with light and its resulting sparkle, to the subtle gradations of color and clarity, we'll examine how these factors influence both appearance and price. Furthermore, we delve into the intriguing world of Moissanite, a gemstone known for its exceptional brilliance and durability, and how it stands as a compelling alternative to traditional diamonds.
Whether it's the classic allure of a natural diamond, the innovative excellence of a lab-created stone, or the unique brilliance of Moissanite, here are some considerations in making your choice in selecting a gem that's not just a stone, but a symbol of enduring beauty.
The price difference between natural mined diamonds, lab-created diamonds, and moissanite is significant and varies depending on several factors such as size, quality, and the 4 C's (cut, color, clarity, and carat weight).
Natural Mined Diamonds: These are traditionally the most expensive option. Their pricing is influenced by their natural rarity, the cost of mining, and market demand. The price for natural diamonds can vary widely based on the 4 C's, with high-quality diamonds (e.g., high clarity, colorless) commanding premium prices.
Lab-Created Diamonds: Lab-created or synthetic diamonds are physically, chemically, and optically identical to natural diamonds but are created in controlled laboratory environments. These diamonds are generally more affordable than natural mined diamonds, often costing 30-50% less. This price difference is due to the more controlled production process and the reduced need for mining and excavation.
Moissanite: Moissanite is a diamond simulant and not a form of diamond. It's known for its brilliance and clarity but is compositionally different from diamond. Moissanite is much more affordable than both natural and lab-created diamonds. It can be priced at a fraction of the cost of natural diamonds, often making it an attractive choice for those seeking a diamond-like appearance at a significantly lower price.
The 4 C’s
Cut, Color, Clarity and Carat, also classified as the 4 C's, are the industry standards for assessing the quality of any diamond, whether it is lab grown or mined. As a lab grown diamond is chemically, optically, and physically the same as a mined diamond, the rules of the 4 C's apply to both.
We often think of a diamond's cut as its shape, such as round, cushion, or oval, but a diamond's cut refers to how well its facets interact with light. Although the cut is defined by proportions as well as symmetry, it has a profound impact on the visible sparkle, brilliance, and fire of that diamond. Cut grades range from poor to excellent, with excellent being the best-cut grade possible. Charles & Colvard's Caydia® lab grown diamonds are only offered in excellent cut, ensuring each gem has optimal proportions, symmetry, and polish.
A perfect diamond is completely transparent, having no hue or color. The absence of color is graded on a D-through-Z scale, with D being colorless, and Z having the most color. D, E, and F diamonds are considered colorless, and G, H, and I are considered nearly colorless. These distinctions are often so subtle that they are invisible to the untrained eye, however, a diamond's color grade can have a significant impact on both appearance and price. Charles & Colvard's Caydia® lab grown diamonds are only offered in colorless grades E and F and near-colorless grade G.
A diamond’s clarity refers to the absence of inclusions and blemishes. Imperfections can range from imperceptible to the naked eye, to obvious flaws on the gem, and are classified within 6 major categories:
Flawless (FL) No inclusions and no blemishes visible under 10x magnification
Internally Flawless (IF) No inclusions visible under 10x magnification
Very, Very Slightly Included (VVS1 and VVS2) Inclusions so slight they are difficult for a skilled grader to see under 10x magnification
Very Slightly Included (VS1 and VS2) Inclusions are observed with effort under 10x magnification, but can be characterized as minor
Slightly Included (SI1 and SI2) Inclusions are noticeable under 10x magnification
Included (I1, I2, and I3) Inclusions are obvious under 10x magnification which may affect transparency and brilliance
o Caydia lab grown diamonds are only offered in VS1 quality or better, meaning any imperfections will only be visible under 10x magnification, or unnoticeable to the naked eye each gem has optimal proportions, symmetry, and polish.
Diamond carat weight measures how much a diamond weighs. A metric “carat” is defined as 200 milligrams. Each carat is subdivided into 100 ‘points.’ This allows very precise measurements to the hundredth decimal place. Carat weight is typically displayed as either a fraction or decimal, and sometimes referred to as ‘points’. Diamond price increases with carat weight. However, 100 points of diamonds are not equivalent to a single 1.00 carat stone, in terms of price or value.
Moissanite is a rare, naturally occurring white mineral, also known as silicon carbide. While it may have the appearance of a diamond, it has superior fire and brilliance. Known for its brilliance, or high refractive index of 2.65, (vs a diamond with an index of 2.42) moissanite is quantifiably the most brilliant gemstone on earth!
Moissanite is extremely tough and durable, and second only to a diamond in its resistance to scratching and abrasion. It scores a 9.5 on the Moh’s hardness scale, compared to a diamond with a Moh’s score of 10.
Charles & Colvard is the original creator of moissanite. Their Forever One™ moissanite revolutionized the industry and set a new standard for brilliant, colorless gems that are created above ground. At a fraction of the price of mined diamonds, anyone looking to maximize their engagement ring budget (and brilliance) should consider this extraordinary gemstone.
Moissanite gemstones are also graded according to the 4 C’s.
To view how lab-grown diamonds, natural diamonds and moissanite compare against each other, please see the charts below.