What kind of center stone should I choose for an engagement ring: Traditional earth-mined diamond, lab grown diamond or moissanite?

Important engagement ring considerations before popping the big question:

Shopping for a wedding ring is among the most memorable of life events. There are many considerations such as ring style, type of gold, the size and shape of the center stone, solitaire or a halo setting. Should you Include accent stones on the shank or leave it clean? These are some of the common questions many people in the market for an engagement ring consider. Since the center stone is often the majority of the cost, possibly the most difficult choice is whether to go with a natural earth mined diamond, a lab grown diamond (real but cultured, man made), or a Moissanite. If you aren’t sure, don’t feel bad, you are not alone; many people aren’t fully clear on the differences between these center stone options but this page can help and so can I.

Yet another option for engagement ring center stones are colored gemstones. For more information on growing trends to break from tradition and add color to engagement rings, please click here to read my article on colored gemstones. For the topic on this page though, let's focus on the most common options for engagement ring center stones: earth mined diamonds, lab grown diamonds and moissanites.
As a jeweler and designer, I’m proud and happy to offer the best quality in each of these options without any personal preference--what matters is what is important to you and your beloved! Not all jewelers or retailers are neutral. Each will point out a number of reasons their option is best. For example:

Traditional earth-mined diamonds

Due to a variety of reasons, many traditional retail diamond stores will tell you that a natural earth-mined diamond is better because of resale values compared to lab grown diamonds or Moissanites (perhaps in part due to larger retail values sometimes translating to higher sales commissions). I would like to think all of my customers get engaged with the intention of it being a lifelong commitment, so the resale value is not a big factor in my opinion. But if resale value matters to you, yes, add points toward considering a natural, GIA certified diamond.

Lab grown diamonds

The lab grown diamond (man made diamond) industry will tell you that their diamonds are more ethical and ecological than natural diamonds and prettier than Moissanites and that by purchasing one you are saving money and saving the planet. These are all valid points for you to consider in your decision.


Moissanites on the other hand tend to offer the lowest prices and lowest resale values of the three main options and producers claim that during reflection tests their stones are brighter than natural diamonds and are as strong as a sapphire and that they are not only ethical but much cheaper than diamonds.


The three primary industries/options above each have valid pros and cons. I personally don’t think one stone is better than the other because of their retail value. Each of the three types of stones make beautiful rings. I’ve seen them in my rings and they all look gorgeous and have made couples equally happy. Each type on their own attributes.

My Suggestion?

What I recommend to my customers is to do a little research on each type of stone. Find out what their special person, their beloved would like, set a budget and see which of the three choices might best fit the budget, criteria and values. 

Price Comparison Example

For example, let’s take a simple 14kt gold 1 carat solitaire engagement ring to compare the prices of each type of stone. In this case, let’s assume a medium high quality G color SI1 quality using early to mid 2018 market value estimates.

  • GIA Certified diamond G-SI1
Approximate Market Value $7,000
      • CVD Lab Grown (man made) Certified Diamond G-SI1
        Approximate Market Value $4,200
          • Moissanite Forever One C&C Certified DEF
            Approximate Market Value $1,100

               The rings would look similar to the naked eye with slight differences in sparkle with Moissanites but at the end the customer has to decide what fits their values and budget. After you learn some of the fundamentals, I am happy to help you with your decision.




              To continue the research, let’s look at some additional information on each of these primary engagement ring center stone options:




              Diamond is the most concentrated form of pure carbon in the natural world and the strongest mineral on Earth. The secret to diamond’s superior strength is found on the molecular level. Formation of diamonds requires four key ingredients: carbon, pressure, heat and time. When it comes to heat and pressure, at least 752 degrees Fahrenheit and 434,113 pounds per square inch. Prime diamonds are located about 100 miles (160 kilometers) underground in the Earth’s mantle. Volcano eruptions of magma propelled natural diamonds closer to the Earth’s surface. Most of the diamonds are found in Africa, Russia and lately in Canada. The process of digging diamonds is very expensive and can be dangerous. Once they are dug out, diamonds must be sorted, cut and polished to bring out their luster.

              Diamond quality is classified by the 4Cs: Color, Clarity, Cut and Carat. Each of these attributes will decide the value of a diamond. Diamonds can be Certified by GIA for a premium price or available without a certificate. I am G.I.A. GD certified (Graduated Diamond) and soon to be certified by G.I.A. in colored stones. You can easily find more information on the 4Cs by doing a Google search.


              Lab Grown Diamonds (Lab cultured, man made diamonds)

              Lab grown diamonds--unlike CZ and other simulants--are REAL diamonds.

              Lab grown diamonds have nearly the same physical and optical properties of natural diamonds. It is virtually impossible to distinguish with the naked eye and requires special equipment to identify a lab grown diamond. They are just as hard, and they are available in a range of colors and qualities. Just like natural diamonds, they can have an excellent cut—and, therefore, excellent fire, brightness and scintillation—or they can have a poor cut or anything in between just like with earth mined diamonds. It all depends on the quality of the diamond and the skill of the cutter.

              While natural diamonds may take billions of years to form, lab grown diamonds can be grown in a matter of weeks! It is quite impressive how technology has advanced and this is a relatively new breakthrough that is disrupting the industry and worth looking into.

              Lab grown diamonds are produced in a variety of ways. The supplier we have chosen for lab grown diamond specializes in using the Chemical Vapor Deposition (CVD) process will be described here:

              With this newer technique, synthetic diamonds are grown in an apparatus that uses moderate temperatures and very low pressures in a vacuum chamber. The CVD process involves heating a mixture of a hydrocarbon gas (such as methane) and hydrogen, which releases carbon atoms that then settle onto the cooler, typically square-shaped seed plate of natural or, more likely, synthetic diamond. This results in a square-shaped, tabular synthetic diamond crystal. Once the crystals are made they are fashioned the same way that a natural diamond is fashioned to bring the sparkle to life. CVD diamonds and Natural Diamonds look exactly the same next to another and even a professional jeweler could not tell the difference since both stones share the same attributes and chemical composition. In order to tell one from the other it is necessary special laboratory machines created for this use. CVD diamonds are priced 30% to 40% lesser than natural diamonds and just like Natural Diamonds they are priced depending on their 4Cs characteristics: Color, Clarity, Carat and Cut.



              Over 120 years ago, during a search for efficient electrical conductors, Nobel Prize-winning chemist Dr. Henri Moissan discovered moissanite (silicon carbide) in a meteorite crater. He resolved to find a way that science could reproduce this rare mineral, which held such promise in the development of diverse products that included semiconductors, LED lighting and extremely hard drilling tools and abrasives.

              After years of experimentation, researchers from the Research Triangle Park in North Carolina developed and patented a process for creating pure silicon carbide (SiC). Moissanite is much closer to diamond in overall appearance and heft than any previous diamond imitation. They are very strong and durable 9.25 in the scale of MOHs, Diamond being a 10.

              Like diamonds, Moissanite is also available in different shapes. Those who select Moissanite in lieu of a diamond also can be assured that the stone will be safe for daily wear. While no gemstone can replicate a diamond’s hardness, Moissanite comes incredibly close. Although a diamond is a 10 on the MOHs scale of hardness,Moissanite is a 9.25. 

              The colorless, clear beauty and sparkling fire of Moissanite allows the stone to be the ideal substitute for buyers who want the look of diamonds without higher cost of a Natural Diamond or a CVD. There are many companies producing Moissanites but the leading company in distribuition and quality is Charles and Colvard with their colorless line DEF Forever One. I have chosen this supplier for all of my certified Moissanite products.


              In Conclusion

              Whatever product you choose and wherever you make your purchase, I hope this information helps with your selection. If I can be of any help, please do not hesitate to ask me any questions.




              TIP: If budget is a significant concern for you, some couples agree to go with a modest, affordable option at engagement with the goal of upgrading in the future when financial situations improve. If this is your situation, there is no shame at all and please be open and honest and I will do my best to help you! 

              No credit card? High interest rate credit card? Some of my price-conscious clients have shared that they do not have a credit card or that their credit card charges high interest rates for carried balances that can add up on large purchases such as an engagement ring. For such clients, I can offer a sort of lay away plan. Click here to inquire for details.