“The best things in life are free. The second best are very expensive.” – Coco Chanel.
While we do not know what were the best things in her life, we would like to think that the second-best ones would have been diamonds! And like she said, they are expensive!
As gorgeous as they are, natural, mined diamonds are super expensive and have environmental concerns associated with them.
Fortunately, there are a lot of alternatives to the classic engagement ring gemstone, the mined diamond, from which you can choose from. Each diamond alternative is unique and has similarities and differences with the stone.
Here is a complete guide to understanding the magnificent world of diamond alternatives so that you can choose the right one for yourself!
What is a diamond alternative?
A diamond alternative is nothing but a gemstone that you can choose instead of a natural diamond.
While the first thought that comes to mind upon hearing the term ‘diamond alternative’ is that it refers to diamond simulants, the truth is that there is a wide range of stones that can be considered diamond alternatives.
They range from diamond simulants to similar-looking gemstones to unique and colorful gemstones.
These diamond alternatives can be used for your engagement ring or other fine jewelry, especially beneficial to those looking for something inexpensive or unique or those bothered by the negative impact mining for diamonds has on the environment.
Why should you go for diamond alternatives?
The primary reason people go for diamond alternatives is that they cost a fraction of the price of a natural diamond.
For example, the price of lab-created diamonds can sometimes be less than 80% of that of a natural one, so people prefer the alternative as they can buy a diamond with a higher carat value for a lesser price.
Diamonds also don’t have a very high resale value, so they cannot be treated as investments like in the case of gold. Thus many people prefer not to spend excessive money to buy diamonds.
Mining for diamonds often follows unethical labor practices and destroys the environment. The consequences are severe as mining sites can lead to soil erosion, the creation of sinkholes, and emissions of harmful chemicals.
However, the diamond alternatives are more environmentally friendly and thus preferred by those concerned about the environment.
To understand how diamond mining affects the environment, check out this article.
While diamonds are still considered the ideal gemstone for an engagement ring, people today have a variety of tastes and preferences.
Some people prefer colorful and unique stones for their engagement rings, and jewelry and such colorful gemstones are becoming more and more popular.
Price is also a factor here as you can also choose to go for a higher carat value for a lesser price, as mentioned above.
Pros of choosing diamond alternatives:
- They are less expensive, which is a great thing, especially for those on a budget or those who do not prefer to indulge in unnecessary spending.
- They cause less damage to the environment.
- They have a more comprehensive range of options with some unique choices which can make you stand out from the ordinary.
- Some of the alternatives look like the same as a mined diamond to a huge extent, and most people would not be able to tell the difference.
Cons of choosing diamond alternatives:
- Natural diamonds can last a lifetime! Most of its alternatives do not have the same sort of durability.
- Some might come close, but most of them cannot match up to the dazzling sparkle of a natural diamond.
- Diamonds are usually treated as a prized possession intended to flaunt at social gatherings. A diamond alternative may not be able to serve that purpose.
Types of diamond alternatives-
Various kinds of diamond alternatives differ in cost, durability, and appearance. Some are cheaper with lesser durability, others with more. Some cost a lot but are fragile.
Similarly, some look exactly like a diamond, some look similar, while others look completely different.
Depending upon your preferences, you can choose the alternative best suited for you. To make the best decision, you should be aware of various diamond alternatives.
So, here we provide you with some important details of the various diamond alternatives.
#1. Lab-Grown Diamonds
Even though they are referred to as ‘a diamond alternative’, lab-grown or lab-created diamonds are real diamonds. Their physical, chemical, and optical properties are the same as that of a mined diamond.
They also offer the same sparkle like that of a mined diamond. These diamonds are created in a laboratory using advanced technologies by duplicating the process by which natural diamonds are formed.
They appear identical to mined diamonds and can only be distinguished using special instruments.
As they are created in a lab, they are environment friendly.
They are also much cheaper than mined diamonds but are pretty expensive compared to other alternatives.
#2. White Lab-Created Gemstones
These gemstones are created in a laboratory, and while they are not identical, they are close lookalikes of mined diamonds.
Only an expert in the field would spot the difference, and others could easily mistake it for a mined diamond.
There are two types of white lab-created gemstones-
The major difference between a diamond and moissanite is its reflective properties. It has a higher refractive index than a diamond, which creates a rainbow or ‘disco ball’ effect compared to diamonds that reflect in scintillation. This difference makes it less of a diamond in some people’s eyes.
Moissanite also comes at a fraction of the price of a diamond which, along with its high durability, makes it a good alternative.
ii. Cubic Zirconia
Cubic Zirconia is also a lab-created gemstone and a close lookalike diamond. It is made up of zirconium dioxide and is popularly used in costume jewelry.
Its reflective and dispersive properties are similar to a diamond, making it a popular alternative.
It is also one of the most affordable diamond alternatives in various styles and cuts.
Cubic Zirconia, however, has less durability than a diamond, with the hardness scoring of an 8.5 and can break over time. It is also prone to scratches.
Another shortcoming of Cubic Zirconia is that it is porous, absorbing oils from your skin, causing it to dull with time.
#3. White Mined Gemstones
White mined gemstones, though popular alternatives to diamond, have visible dissimilarities to diamonds.
They don’t share the same properties as diamonds and usually lack that sparkle. These gemstones are generally not very expensive, which makes them popular.
There are four types of white mined gemstones –
i. White Sapphire
White sapphire is a popular diamond alternative. Even though white sapphire is created in labs, the natural gemstone is more preferred.
It does not have the sparkle that a diamond does, making the difference visible, even to the naked eye. White sapphire stones can also appear milky at times, so make sure to select the transparent one.
On the plus side, white sapphire is excellent in durability with a scoring of 9 on the Mohs scale and is also not very expensive.
ii. White Topaz
The white topaz, which is usually colorless, has a stunning shine and sparkle, but it cannot be compared to the sparkle exhibited by a diamond.
It is also a comparatively soft gemstone with a hardness rating of 8, making it less durable and prone to chipping and scratches.
Nevertheless, white topaz is a cheap diamond to be easily replaced.
iii. White Zircon
White Zircon is the closest-looking mined diamond alternative. Its reflective and dispersive properties are similar to that of a diamond.
However, it is less durable and highly fragile, with a hardness scoring of 7.5.
White zircon is also highly affordable and readily available but is not a very popular diamond alternative.
Also known as rock crystal, quartz is one of the most popular mined gemstones. It’s the most affordable diamond alternative but might be the least preferred.
Even though quartz can be polished to shine and sparkle, it could never be a match for a diamond.
It does not perform well in terms of durability either, as it scores a 7 on the Mohs scale, deeming it fragile and prone to scratches.
#4. Colorful Gemstones
Colorful gemstones such as ruby, sapphire, emerald, and amethyst have become extremely popular and are used in various types of jewelry, including engagement rings.
They bring uniqueness to the jewelry and make them more vibrant.
Some of the colorful gemstones that make good alternatives to a diamond include-
Red in color and famous as a symbol of love, ruby is one of the most famous colorful gemstones used as a diamond alternative.
Rubies are highly durable, with a scoring of 9 on the Mohs scale, and have a stunning shimmer in them!
And while they are a bit costly, they certainly cost less than diamonds.
Sapphires are available in a variety of colors. There was a time when they used to be an even more popular choice than diamonds for an engagement ring, which used to be passed on from generation to generation.
They, too, have a hardness scoring of 9, making them highly durable.
Sapphire is usually less expensive than a ruby as the latter is rarer than sapphire.
Beautiful green in color, emeralds are often associated with royalty and mystical powers.
Emerald scores a 7.5 -8 on the Mohs scale, making it less durable than rubies and sapphires.
Emeralds are usually the same price as sapphires.
It is a stunning purple-colored, uncommon stone that appeases the eyes.
Amethyst ranks a poor 7 on the Mohs scale, which means it is not very durable and not suited for regular use. But it can indeed be flaunted occasionally!
It is also the least expensive gemstone on the list!
|S. no||Diamond alternative||Diamond-like look/properties||Scoring on the Mohs scale||Price|
|1||Lab-grown diamonds||Real diamonds, identical||10||High|
|2||Moissanite||Good dazzle but different than that of a diamond||9.5||High|
|3||Cubic Zirconia||Similar reflective properties as a diamond||8.5||Low|
|4||White Sapphire||It does not have the sparkle||9||Moderate|
|5||White Topaz||Stunning sparkle||8||Low|
|6||White Zircon||Similar reflective properties as a diamond||8.5||Low|
|7||Quartz||Very dissimilar to a diamond||7||Low|
|9||Sapphire||Various colors, some sparkle||9||High|
|10||Emerald||Green colored, royal look||7.5-8||Moderate|
Which is the best diamond alternative?
When it comes to deciding upon the best diamond alternatives in general, the answer, without a doubt, would be lab-grown diamonds as they are real diamonds.
They are identical to mined diamonds making them the perfect choice for the lovers of the classic stone. Lab-grown diamonds are also quite affordable.
After lab-grown diamonds, moissanite is the second-best diamond alternative as it is almost as durable as a diamond and has its shine and sparkle! It too is not very expensive and is environmentally friendly.
However, everyone has their tastes and constraints, so when it comes to deciding the best diamond alternatives for you, it depends on what you’re looking for.
If you’re looking for an engagement ring:
Moissanite or sapphire would be the best diamond alternatives for you!
They can both provide the perfect look and glamour of an engagement ring!
Moissanite would make for a classic look as it resembles a diamond. If you want to go for something unique and different, sapphire would be an excellent choice for you as the stone is exquisite and gives a royal look.
As an engagement ring is usually worn every day, both these stones are perfect as they have high durability and are not prone to wear and tear.
If you’re looking for fine jewelry:
Rubies would look gorgeous on a necklace or earrings! They would give a subtle vintage look and would catch people’s eye.
They are also very durable and will not get damaged easily to be worn regularly.
Sapphires and moissanite also make for classy options for fine jewelry. They have their uniqueness, and both of these have high durability.
If you care about the dazzling sparkle:
Cubic zirconia is the best alternative to the diamond if you want a diamond-like sparkle. As mentioned above, cubic zirconia has reflective properties similar to diamond, so if that is all that you are looking for, go for it!
However, it won’t suit everyday wear as it has a low scoring on the Mohs scale.
Moissanite comes at a close second in this situation as it too has a fantastic sparkle of its own and has high durability making it a better choice if you want to wear it often.
If you care about the scoring on the Mohs scale or durability:
The best alternative is moissanite, which is almost as hard and durable as a diamond.
Moissanite would be followed by alternatives such as white sapphire, ruby, and sapphire as they are ranked in durability.
Stones with higher durability are more suitable to wear every day, while others should be worn occasionally and with utmost care.
If you are on a budget:
The most affordable diamond alternative would be quartz or amethyst. Both of these are beautiful in their way, but if you can afford to go slightly higher, go for cubic zirconia or white topaz.
This is because quartz and amethyst are less durable and would damage easily, so even though they are also easily replaceable, it might be better to spend a little more and get something that would last longer.
The popularity and market for diamond alternatives are on the rise, and it seems like a good thing considering the damage mining for diamonds causes to the environment. There is also the price and choice factor, as we discussed.
Some of you might still prefer the classic, mined diamonds, which is completely alright! There is nothing quite like the natural diamond!
But for those of you wanting to try out a diamond alternative, remember that there is a diamond alternative for everyone, depending on your needs and preferences!
I hope this article helped you understand the different kinds of alternatives to diamonds!
Let us know what you think is the best diamond alternative for you in the comments!
As you seem interested in diamonds, here is another article about diamonds that you might like –