Updated: Jun 16, 2021
What gemstones look like diamonds?
When only something white and sparkling will do, it’s a good time to ask what gemstones look like diamonds. Diamonds may be a girl’s best friend but, whether because of the price or the associations, they aren’t for everyone. After all, a girl can have several best friends… right?
Here’s my pick of the gemstones that look most like diamonds:
White sapphire is becoming a popular alternative to diamond in engagement rings. While not the cheapest of gemstones, it’s still generally less costly than diamond. With sapphire measuring 9 on the Mohs scale of hardness, it’s the next best thing in terms of durability, too, which is an important consideration for a ring worn every day.
White sapphire doesn’t have diamond’s brilliance, but its softer look is precisely what attracts many people in search of a subtle, vintage look to their engagement ring.
Coming in at approximately a third of the price of white sapphire, white topaz is a budget friendly option. As well as having a lower refractive index than diamond, which means that it won’t sparkle as brightly, it’s also much less durable diamond so will almost certainly become duller over time in a regularly worn piece of jewellery. However, durability is not the only consideration you may have. White topaz makes a good choice for occasional wear or to use as an accent when you don’t want to overpower the main gemstone.
Not to be confused with cubic zirconia, zircon has an intense fire and strong lustre that makes it the only natural convincing alternative to diamond. The reason for this is zircon’s strong double refraction of light. While not as soft as some gemstones, it is still markedly less soft than diamond and white sapphire and is also prone to darkening and dulling under prolonged exposure to sunlight. Zircon is probably best suited for a dazzling piece of occasion wear.
Quartz is one of the cheapest and most abundant gemstones available, but in the hands of a good gemstone cutter, it can really shine. When faceted to maximize sparkle, quartz is a great choice for accessories and costume jewellery that isn’t worn often. Its softness, however, means it’s not suited for something like an engagement ring, which needs to be durable.
Lab grown alternatives
There are two major contenders to lab grown diamonds: moissanite and cubic zirconia. Cubic zirconia is the most well-known, and is found liberally sprinkled across fashion and costume jewellery in almost every high street store. As a lab grown gemstone, cubic zirconia contains very few flaws and can be made to imitate the more expensive colour grades of diamond. However, at 8 on the Mohs scale, it will require polishing from time to time, to rid the surface of scratches.
At 9.25 on the Mohs scale, moissanite is even harder than sapphire, making it an excellent choice for an engagement ring. Moissanite is great for those who like to make a statement— though cheaper than diamond, it has a higher refractive index, so it’s perfect if you want that disco ball sparkle with every wave of the hand. Not only that, but as a lab-grown gemstone, moissanite is a good choice for consumers anxious about the ethical sourcing of gemstones.
There is such a thing as natural moissanite, but it is so vanishingly rare that the word moissanite is almost always used to describe the lab grown gemstone.
Which of these gemstones that look like diamonds would you choose?
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