Comparing Natural Diamonds, Lab Grown Diamonds and Moissanite
  • Jun 22, 2023

Comparing Natural Diamonds, Lab Grown Diamonds and Moissanite

Natural Diamonds-A Short History

Diamonds were first discovered in South Africa in 1867 by a poor farmer, named Daniel Jacobs near Hopetown on the Orange River. Before this, Brazil had been the principal source of diamonds for at least 150 years.

Jacob and his sons used the “pretty stones and pebbles” in games. A neighbor of Daniels was intrigued by the stones and offered to buy one. The mother laughed at this request and simply gave it to her neighbor. 

The neighbors curiosity grew and he took it to Hopetown where he showed it around and it ended up with a geologist who noticed that it scratched glass. He pronounced that this stone was a diamond weighing over 21 carats!

News spread and the rest is history with South African diamond mining. Currently, diamond mining in Africa produces around half of the world's diamonds, however to date, they have produced over 75% of all diamonds. Over 1.9 billion carats with a value of around $158 billion.

Diamonds  are formed in the earth over billions of years and are made up of a single element which is carbon. They form deep in the earth under extreme pressure and high temperatures. They are a rarity and a treasure for their physical properties, transparency, hardness and optical appearance.

 Lab Grown Diamonds (The new kid on the block)Timeline: 

1. Union Carbide begins to use new technology to grown Lab Diamonds in 1952 and then GE successfully launched the science of Lab Grown Diamonds in the 1950’s and 1960’s with the first stone able to be cut in the 1970’s.

2.  The International Gem Lab started grading Lab Grown Diamonds in 2008. DeBeers hesitated to do so initially, but they now provide graded Lab Diamond Reports.

3.  Lab Grown Diamonds just started hitting the market two years ago with significant supplies

4.  In 2018, DeBeers enters the market with their branded Lab Grown Diamond called “Lightbox”. They have also put $94 million into a Portland area Lab Grown Diamond facility producing over 500,00 carats this year.

Jewelry Industry Advances:

1.  The Lab Grown Diamond Council formed in 2019. They promote Lab Grown Diamond education, awareness, research and sustainability programs are being developed. 

2.  The FTC has rules governing environmental marketing claims and proper terms that companies can use when advertising to the public (ie cannot say Lab Grown Diamonds are “green”).  They also dictate that Lab Grown Diamonds must be fully disclosed to consumers to being just that. (ie Laboratory- grown or laboratory-created).

3.  Gemworld (an industry price list) is now publishing "The Lab Grown Diamond INDEX".

4.  New Gem equipment has been developed to separate synthetic, Lab Grown Diamond and natural diamonds. Testing is tougher for Lab Grown Diamonds vs. Natural diamonds and this has required new testers for jewelers to have to distinguish the difference.

5.  Lab Grading Reports and Laser inscribed stones identify the larger Lab Grown Diamonds not the melee.

Why the interest and rise in popularity of Lab Grown Diamonds?

1. Top Reason #1- Economics -VALUE-Lab Grown Diamonds are a less expensive choice while still keeping the size, color and clarity the consumer wants and they can now afford a bigger and better diamond.   

2. Top Reason #2- No conflict-ethical-eco friendly-Lab Grown Diamonds are manmade in a controlled environment. 

3. Changing consumer tastes are finding diamond alternatives and are willing to try new things - ie. moissanite, white sapphires, gray diamonds and salt and pepper diamonds

4. It is a new advance in technology

5. Consumers are better informed and deliberate on how to spend their money more methodically.

6. Love continues on!  Living thru the covid lock down of 2020 reveals that life is precious and that people have a  desire to solidify relationships and form something everlasting.

7.  “Starter Rings”-Many brides say the ring they get engaged with is not the ring that will be on their finger for life.

8. Many couples buying have financial obligations that past generations didn’t have. They are Homeowners or have children already. Birth rates have changed 40% between married and unmarried women in the past 50 years.

Pink Shirt Engagement

Science: How do they grow Lab Grown Diamonds?

There are two processes used in producing Lab Grown Diamonds. One is called CVD which stands for Chemical Vapor Deposition.  The second process is HTHP which stands for High Temperature High Pressure technology.  Lab Grown Diamonds can form in 3 to 4 weeks .

Lab grown diamonds have the same clarity ,color and can be cut just the same as natural diamonds.

Most stones produced are melee size (the smallest) with larger Lab Grown Diamonds being slower to enter the market. The most sold by dealers is under 2 carats. 

Read more:

The market for Lab Grown Diamonds

1.  Engagement rings and wedding rings account for 87% of the sales of Lab Grown DIamonds as of April 2020
2. Future value does not play so much into consumers buying choices and they are not buying Lab Grown stones as an investment.

Moissanite and Other Diamond Simulates

Diamond simulates include glass, colorless sapphire, colorless zircon, synthetic cubic zirconia and synthetic moissanite.  CZ and moissanite are the most common diamond simulates in the market. None of these share the chemical composition or physical properties of natural or man made diamonds. Because these do not share those properties, they are easier to distinguish by gemologists.  This can be done by trained gemologists/jewelers visually as well as with the microscope.


The gemological properties are different than diamonds. Chemically Moissanite is Silicon Carbide. Since it was first manufactured a century ago, silicon carbide (SiC) has played an important industrial role as an abrasive. The growth of single crystals of silicon carbide has been studied for many years for two possible end uses: as a semiconductor material, and as a diamond substitute in jewelry.

Natural Moissanite is a rare, naturally occurring mineral also known as silicon carbide, which was first discovered by the Nobel Prize-winning chemist, Dr. Henri Moissan, at the site of a massive meteorite strike in Arizona. This intriguing new stone was named “moissanite” in his honor.

It wasn’t until the late 90s that scientists–working in a research laboratory located in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina–developed the innovative thermal growing process that creates silicon carbide crystals. These crystals are fashioned into moissanite gemstones that challenge other natural gemstones for fire and brilliance.

Only recently has the controlled growth of synthetic moissanite actually been achieved. Material that may appear near-colorless face-up in jewelry is now available for gemological use.

Moissanite grading uses a color grading scale that is based upon the GIA diamond color grading scale. There are three grades of moissanite available today: colorless (D-E-F range), near-colorless (G-H-I range) and with faint hues of color (J-K range). The Clarity Grade is simply rated as "eye clean" and Lab Grading Reports are not the norm.

Natural Diamond:

  • Hardness -10
  • Toughness -Good to excellent
  • Refractive Index - 2.417
  • Dispersion - 0.044
  • Optic Character -Singly refractive 
  • Pavilion flash Colors- Orange and blue excellent

Synthetic moissanite:

  • Hardness -9.25
  • Toughness -Excellent
  • Refractive index-2.648 to 2.691
  • Dispersion -Strong
  • Optic Character- Doubly refractive
  • Pavilion Flashes Orange and blue

Read more:

In conclusion: The overall picture

I prepared a Price Comparisons for a "1.0ct  Round Brilliant Cut Diamond Look "Choice using and industry standard markup. 

CZ.  $20.00

Natural White Sapphire.  $550.00

Stuller Brand Moissanite   $400.00

C & C Forever One Moissanite  $650     Eye Clean  D-E-F Color

Lab Grown Diamond.         $. 4800.00. SI1 G Color

Natural Diamond    $7800.00 with GIA SI1 G COLOR

Thank you for reading my blog! Contact us to shop for a stone!

Mimi Brummitt