You know what they say, “Diamonds are a girl’s best friend.” But is that still true? Diamonds have been a staple engagement ring stone since the DeBeers diamond mining company released a genius marketing campaign in the first half of the 1900s. Their slogan “A Diamond is Forever”, is still considered a contributing factor to today’s widespread tradition of diamond engagement rings. Over the years, jewelers have experimented with different cutting techniques to increase the brilliance of the diamond. Unfortunately at this point in time, we are slowly depleting the world's diamond deposits. It is suspected that less than 20% of the diamonds mined in the present-day are of gem quality!
While this is one great reason to consider a different gem, diamonds also have several look-alikes that are much more cost-effective.
Of course, many people prefer different stones altogether, such as sapphires or emeralds. However, if you’re set on the traditional diamond look, check out these other options before you commit to the real deal.
A diamond is the hardest stone known to man, while cubic zirconia has a much lower rating of hardness. Diamonds are made of carbon which lends to their brilliance and hardness, Cubic zirconia is a form of zirconium dioxide and is created synthetically. A diamond and cubic zirconia can be the same in actual size, but cubic zirconia will weigh more. Because of its low cost and similarity to a diamond, it has remained the most gemologically and economically important competitor of diamonds. Costing next to nothing in comparison to a diamond, cubic zirconia is a great alternative.
Moissanite is a form of silicon carbide and is usually produced synthetically. Rating slightly higher on the hardness scale compared to cubic zirconia, this is probably closest to the real thing in terms of durability. The most obvious difference between moissanite and diamonds is their brilliance. In general, moissanite has more brilliance than a diamond! Moissanite is lab-created, making it an eco-friendly option since it doesn’t require any mining. While they do cost more than cubic zirconia, moissanite is still a fraction of the cost of a diamond.
Swarovski crystals are actually not a gem or even a crystal, they’re glass! Created with a patented process, they are cut and polished to have a high-quality finish. The look-alike is much softer on the Mohs scale, which makes it susceptible to wear and tear. Swarovski crystals are priced similarly to cubic zirconia, giving you another low-cost option instead of a diamond.
Probably the biggest difference between quartz and a diamond is the brilliance of each. While quartz does refract light, diamonds give a much better sparkle. Quartz is also a relatively soft gemstone, rating a 7 on the Mohs scale of hardness. Because of this, it is not an ideal choice for something like an engagement ring where it is the main attraction.
If you want to go for the diamond look, these alternatives are great options without the big price tag!
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