“There is something different about your engagement ring,” says my best friend as she stares intensely at my hand. “It just looks a bit off.”
Panic floods my brain. She knows! She knows!
“That can’t be a diamond, right?” she asks.
My face turns beat red. “You’re right. It’s not a diamond.” I confess.
Gasp! A look of shock and horror crosses her face as judgment fills her mind.
Cue the awkwardness.
Guess what. That never happened.
I’ve been engaged for 4 months, showed my ring to dozens of people, and that nightmare scenario that has played out in my mind many times has never happened. Not even once.
My fiancé and I chose a moissanite stone for my engagement ring and it is among the best decisions we have ever made.
Why I chose a diamond alternative for my engagement ring
Two years into dating I knew my fiancé was the one. Like many girls, I started dreaming about what type of engagement ring I wanted.
I played around on sites that allow you to custom design your engagement ring.
I liked jeweler’s Facebook pages in order to enter contests to win expensive engagement rings. (Facebook awkwardly started displaying that I liked those pages to my friends, who then messaged me about it. Thanks, Facebook!)
Given my success with travel rewards and my optimism about life hacking, I was convinced that there was a way to hack the engagement ring as well.
In my research, I discovered the following:
- It’s cheaper if you buy just under the carat mark (For example: .99 carat versus 1.0).
- You can save money buying from websites such as Blue Nile versus buying in store.
- Some styles are more expensive than others (stay away from the asscher cut!).
- You may be able to sacrifice a little on color and clarity (the untrained eye can’t see minor imperfections).
- You can negotiate the price with a jeweler.
Despite finding numerous ways to save money on the ring, I still wasn’t excited about the diamond itself.
I’ve had an issue with the diamond industry for a while now. My top five grievances with the industry are as follows:
- It wasn’t a tradition to give a diamond engagement ring until De Beers told us it was.
- It’s a depreciating asset masquerading as an investment.
- They’re expensive because of market manipulation and price fixing.
- Young people should probably be spending their money in other ways (like paying off the 1 trillion dollars in student loan debt).
- And blood diamonds, obviously.
A combination of the above prompted me to google “diamond alternatives” and it was from this search that I discovered moissanite.
For those of you that have no idea what moissanite is, here you go:
But first, here are answers to some common questions about my Moissanite stone:
- We bought my stone from Charles and Colvard.
- We did not get the enhanced stone. We chose the regular moissanite stone.
- My husband proposed to me with a ring with the cubic zirconia stone that came with it and told me we could pick the moissanite stone out together.
- He knew I wanted moissanite ahead of proposing although I didn’t know he would propose then and he picked out the ring himself.
- Saving money is our thing. We ended up throwing a budget wedding themed for Game of Thrones and it was awesome. We also are saving for early retirement.
I. What is moissanite?
Moissanite, or natural silicon carbide, was discovered over a century ago when Nobel prize-winning French chemist, Dr. Henri Moisson found tiny particles of the substance at the site of a massive meteorite strike in Arizona.
The stone was named moissanite in his honor. Years later, scientists created the gemstone that we know as moissanite today.
II. What does moissanite look like?
Although moissanite may look like a diamond, its higher rate of refraction and dispersion make it much sparklier than a diamond. It actually bends light more than twice as much.
The brilliance and fire make moissanite stones stand out compared to other gemstones.
III. How does moissanite compare to a diamond?
First, Moissanite is much less expensive than a diamond. A 1ct moissanite goes for $300 retail whereas a 1ct diamond could run anywhere from $4,000 to $25,000 depending on cut, color, and clarity.
Secondly, moissanite is more refractive than a diamond as mentioned above, which gives it more fire and sparkle.
Third, moissanite is not as hard as a diamond (about 9 to 10 on the mohr scale) but the difference is negligible. I’ve banged mine against hard surfaces many times and it’s fine.
Like diamonds, moissanites can range from colorless to some color and you pay more as you get closer to colorless – although the cost for a colorless moissanite is much less than the highest grade of diamond comparatively.
Moissanite is not cubic zirconia
Diamond alternatives have traditionally gotten a bad rap.
For example, when I picture a cubic zirconia engagement ring, negative associations come to mind.
I picture a couple that is not able to afford a diamond so they “settle” for cubic zirconia. They feel sad about it but someday the groom promises to “upgrade it to a real diamond, but only when they have the money.” This conversation may or may not happen in a Walmart.
My point is that moissanite is not cubic zirconia. Couples aren’t necessarily choosing moissanite because they don’t have the money to buy a real diamond. They’re not necessarily planning on upgrading it to something else someday either.
Moissanite is a choice. It’s not settling at all.
In my mind, everyone choosing a diamond is settling by not questioning the propaganda that has pressured them for years into thinking that a diamond is what they “deserve.”
There are so many better (and conflict-free) ways to spend that money!
My fiancé and I can afford a diamond and yet we are choosing moissanite for our engagement ring.
And we’re not alone. It seems that more and more couples are making the decision to choose an alternative stone.
Do I regret not getting a diamond?
Absolutely not. My ring is gorgeous and I get compliments on it all the time. Some people have pointed out how sparkly it is, which they then attribute to the cut. I know the stone looks extra sparkly because it’s moissanite and not a diamond but they don’t!
Plus, my fiancé picked out the ring himself. It is so special to me that he spent the time choosing the ring and that it was a complete surprise. I had no idea that he was going to propose that night and I absolutely loved the ring he picked out!
Although we had talked about moissanite beforehand, I had no idea when he would propose or what setting he would choose.
Related: How I Paid Off $89,000 of Debt in 18 Months
Do I tell people it’s not a diamond?
I don’t tell people it’s not a diamond for three reasons.
First, I think it’s rude to compare rings. I don’t care about the cut, color, carat or clarity of anyone else’s engagement ring so why should I go into the details of mine?
Second, no one has ever brought it up. My ring looks great so no one questions it. My fiancé and I did check out some diamonds at the jeweler just for kicks and my stone looks one hundred times better than the diamonds the jeweler brought out for us to see. We were looking at diamonds in the 4 to 6 grand price range and they didn’t have the same sparkle.
Third, I don’t tell anyone that my ring is not a diamond since I unfortunately know how some people would react. I don’t want anyone to judge my fiancé or our relationship because of the ring. It was honestly me driving the decision to get a moissanite stone instead of a diamond from the beginning (although we are both on the same page about our financial goals).
I also don’t share that the ring is not a diamond because I try to keep my personal views on controversial topics close to the vest and don’t think it’s worth getting into a potentially dividing discussion with family or friends. I don’t want my opinion to make someone else feel bad or feel like they have to defend their decision to get a diamond. Everyone can make the right choice for them.
Some of my friends and family read this blog so they may find out now that my engagement ring is real (notice the word choice here) but I think most people who know me will understand. I did just write about how I went to Ecuador with strangers to learn about early retirement so they probably wouldn’t be shocked by this news.
Tips for couples considering moissanite
Here are some tips for couples considering a moissanite stone for their engagement ring:
- Don’t buy moissanite at your jeweler (or atleast compare prices online). Our jeweler was charging $400 more for the same stone we could get online at Charles and Colvard. My fiancé did get the setting from the jeweler though and they just put the stone in the ring for a very small price.
- Don’t go too big. If you want to keep moissanite on the down low then don’t get a massive rock. Many women get huge rings since moissanite is so cheap but it makes it more obvious. Plus, the one critique of moissanite is that it can show a little bit of color in some lighting. I have read that bigger stones may show a bit more color although my ring is comparable to a 1ct and it’s fine.
- You can pay for the colorless stone but you don’t have to. I personally did not get the most enhanced stone because I read that the difference from the unenhanced is negligible. Every once in a while I see a tiny bit of color in my stone but 99% of the time it’s sparkling white.
- The boards at weddingbee.com can be super helpful in your research. In the forums, you can find pictures of moissanite engagement rings on real hands and read about other people’s experiences.
- Don’t be afraid! Choose your future over a ring! Think of all the things you can do with that money!
My fiancé and I chose a moissanite stone for our engagement ring and we haven’t looked back!
Related: How We Set Our Budget for Our Wedding
Related: Non-Traditional Wedding Ideas for Creative Brides
If you’d like to learn more about saving money and retiring early, join our email list below or follow me on Instagram @millennialboss.
Readers, what do you think of a moissanite engagement ring (or another alternative stone)? Would you do it?
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Bethany @ Dose of Discovery says
This is so interesting – I’ve never even heard of moissanite! There’s a part of me that definitely wants to follow the traditional path since I always dreamed of having a diamond enagement ring. But there’s also a part of me that likes that it’s conflict-free and cheaper!
It’s definitely not an easy decision. I found that once we made it though, we never looked back!
Gerry The Jeweler says
Excellent write up!
A Huge +1 for moissanite
I was personally a HUGE advocate of Canadian diamonds for a long time.
Until I finally learned to dig beneath the surface only to realize that I was duped by the ‘Canadian Diamonds – Mined, Cut and Polished in Canada under stringent labor laws and eco-friendly assuredness’
Talk about having egg on your face.
Sure they don’t operate slave labor camps up north here in the Canadian diamond mines, but the environmental impact and contamination of local Native/North American Indian water supplies and ecological destruction…
It’s an eye opener and jaw dropper when you start asking real questions.
Not parts of the diamond industry… The industry in it’s entirety seems to hide behind their veils of positive sounding propaganda.
Keep exposing this stuff!
Two thumbs up!!!
Thanks for bringing that up! The environmental impact is something I didn’t touch on in my post but true story.
Another option is to buy vintage! I just recently got married and found an old estate Ruby ring from 1910 that was both a good value, is beautiful, and doesn’t support the ridiculous diamond industry.
Hell yeah! Sounds like a great find and beautiful ring!
I’ve been researching moissanite for quite some time now. I prefer it for ethical reasons. However, I think my boyfriend is still on the fence. I told him if he goes for a diamond, then to be sure it is a lab created diamond (which is also cheaper, but not nearly as comparable to moissanite.)
One amazing find I came across: fireandbrilliance offers certified Forever One moissanites from Charles and Colvard. They are graded on exact carat equivalent, cut, color and clarity and priced accordingly. They even provide a brilliancy image and HD video of each stone so you can really see what your getting. I’m interested in the 2 carat stones (which are really more 1.9 when graded.)
Thanks for the tip!
I’m a little late to the party but you summed up my opinion of the diamond industry perfectly. My bf was on the fence about moissanite as he thought diamonds were the only way to go. The problem was I had been married before and my ex’s family were in the jewelry buisness. I got a huge 2.5 ct asscher cut for cost which was around 3.5k, paid in irregular installments without interest. Retail, it went for 5x that.
And like you said, the diamond industry is a big crock that over inflates prices for an investment you’ll never get back, hence the “a diamond is forever” slogan only came about because DeBeers hoped to find a way to make people never want to sell back their diamonds, since they’d only get a fraction of what they had paid for it.
My bf who somehow assumes I need a ring comparable to the one I had previously. I would never dream of wasting that much money. So the question has been slow to come. I did some research and decided on moissanite. They make even bigger stones (like let’s say a 2.5 ct stone) colorless now, Like Charles and Colvard’s Forever One Colorless and Moissanite International’s SUPERNOVA.
So a few weeks ago I sent him an in depth expose on the diamond industry from the 80’s (which still rings true today as I have done a lot of research on the industry) and it gave almost every marketing strategy De Beers has ever had up until that point to make us believe we “need” diamonds as engagement rings. And he was shocked and disgusted. I made mention of how I thought moissanite was so pretty and sparklier than a diamond.
We’ve lived together for a while and share devices. Someone’s been looking up moissanite on the computer 🙂
Lance @ My Strategic Dollar says
Congrats on the marriage!
I really enjoyed this perspective on wedding rings. American’s associate status with stuff and the size and sparkle of your wedding ring is certainly at the top of that list. So it’s impressive that you’re willing to choose a cheaper option.
Millennial Boss says
Thank you! Yeah it was a no-brainer in my mind.
What kind of moissantie did you end up getting?
Millennial Boss says
I got the regular stone and not the enhanced stone. No difference in my book.
Thank you so much for posting this. I’ve been engaged for over a year now and have been convincing my fiancé to let me change our diamond to a moissanite, but he’s been so hesitant for every reason you mentioned above. After showing him this post, I think he’s finally giving in!
I just couldn’t keep looking at my finger knowing how much he spent on this 1.3 carat hearts & arrows diamond, while in the back of my head I would rather put this money toward paying off my nursing school loan. All of the ethical reasons are also a major plus! Also, I love the fact that moissanite is even more sparkly! I’m so excited for this new stone!
Millennial Boss says
Glad that you two were able to make a decision for your future!
Moissanite.com redirects to Charlesandcolvard.com. Is that where you bought it?
I have a one and a half carat oval set in the middle of two oval half carat blue kanchanaburi sapphires. My original engagement ring was a sapphire, this is my 15th anniversary ring.
One suggestion I can make is to by several Stones if you can manage it check them out in person will the loop and then send back the ones you don’t want.
I have a jeweler I trust who had four of them brought in for me and there is a difference in the cut… I was able to choose the one I like the best.
I wear it with my wedding band which is a curved white gold and diamond channel set and it puts the diamonds in the band to shame.
I chose Moissanite mostly because I can’t stand the idea of tons of the Earth being ripped up to find me a tiny little stone.
Apologize for the lack of punctuation I’m disabled and have to use voice speak.
Not wanting to spend a fortune on a wedding/engagement ring is something that my husband and I discussed a lot before getting engaged. Luckily, we were able to find something that I loved, and was within the budget we wanted to stay in. We were able to work closely with these jewelers
and they were huge game changers in the wedding/engagement ring search.
I am on the fence about getting a moissanite due to the extreme rainbows that show. Don’t get me wrong, it is absolutely beautiful but I saw one in Helzberg jewelry store and I was tempted to get it but when I saw the rainbows it was off putting. Maybe I sure look at one in a smaller karat because this one was two karats.
Millennial Boss says
I do think that getting a smaller size makes a big difference.
I too am on the fence, but I spent a lot of time researching diamonds with my partner and there is something special about that hunt. It is a lot of money, but we also don’t want a big wedding. In my mind now, I’d rather a ring that lasts forever over one day that I probably won’t remember much of a few years down the line.
Is this irrational thinking? I hate to be wasteful spending so much on a piece of jewelry. I wish I could see a moissanite in person. What would you consider an advantage of buying a diamond over a moissanite? I don’t buy the whole “diamonds are a scam” argument because nothing actually has intrinsic value. Most things are bought at unreasonable markups–education being one of them!
I’ve been a moissanite fan for years! Over 30 years ago we were married with a teeny tiny diamond in an illusion setting. Then upgraded to a half carat anniversary ring that was highly included. For years I wore that ring as our financial status climbed and we could have afforded to upgrade. When I lost the center stone, the jeweler wanted more than the ring was worth to replace it. So, already being a moissanite fan, I knew what to do. I bought a 3 stone radiant cut total diamond equivalent weight of 1.3 carat. It fits my style, and is just the right size of believable. I wear it next to a diamond channel set band, and they look perfect together. I’ve had my moissanite ring for about 10 years and still love it! I am glad to tell people about the other moissanite jewelry I wear, but I’ve never told anyone, except my mom, that my ring is moissanite.
Moissanites have too much rainbow color, like a disco ball, and an odd haziness/bluriness to them from the double refraction. It cheapens the look, doesn’t look lux like diamonds do. They look like costume jewelry.
Millennial Boss says
Agree to disagree on that one. You know what looks cheap, being broke! =)
I absolutely love my Moissanite ring. My hubby and I decided to hole off on rings till we were married so mine is more of a wedding set than “engagement ring”. We order mine from MoissaniteCo a 1.4ct Forever one cushion cut solitaire in recycled white gold. It shines like no other. I have told a close friend who has a morganite ring about it because she loves alternative stones other than that I’ve told no one else and no one has asked if it’s a diamond or not they just say my ring is beautiful and it is so I just say thanks. I really love that I got the best of both worlds. A gorgeous wedding set that looks complete traditional but is cost effective and ethical. Love it. I Wear it everyday.
Loved, loved, LOVED this article!
My partner and I recently got engaged after being together a LONG time and had major discussions about diamond alternatives early on. We are huge advocates for sustainable living and, on top of that, I (personally) have never been able come to terms with the idea that a particular gemstone should dictate the level of commitment between people.
My engagement ring is a gorgeous (1.5 carat equivalent) moissanite from Brilliant Earth (Super Premium Mossanite which I believe is the same as the Forever One by Charles & Colvard) and we’ve never looked back!! This choice was so personal! We could certainly afford a big fat diamond… but we just didn’t WANT to! Instead of spending extra money on a diamond for the sake of saying, “It’s a diamond.” – we’re planning a destination wedding at the same time we invest in our more property. Win-win all around.
On another note, anyone concerned about the longevity of moissanite shouldn’t be worried. Moissanite is considered a generational ring due to its durability (only second to a diamond on the Mohs scale). A moissanite will never loose it’s clarity (like sapphire and other gems are known for). The key is to choose a quality setting. Be weary of jewellers and only purchase from reputable places (in store or online!) that offer warrenties on their products (I.e. Brilliant Earth has a lifetime warranty on their settings and my experience with them was phenomenal).
Jane Wilder says
It looks amazing. Very pretty ring. And after a while when you wear your ring for so long, you just want to make it even more special than it is : )
Amanda A. says
Thank you for this! I started looking into moissanite rings a few weeks ago because when I think about the pressure and financial struggle a diamond ring would put on my boyfriend, I get so frustrated with our society and its skewed perceptions of what an engagement and a marriage “should” be.
I’ve had mixed feeling about the moissanite because I wrestle with the question “will I feel like I’m miss out on something by not having a diamond like everyone else I know.” But when I think about all of the things that money could be spent on instead of a diamond, it seems like such a simple decision. After all, a marriage is about a whole future together, not a piece of jewelry.
Thank you for shedding some light on this topic!
Did you find that the moissanite rings have the same weight to them as comparable diamond rings?
Millennial Boss says
I’ve never thought about the differences in terms of weight. When I take my ring off my finger it feels light as I would expect.
I got a 1 carat moissanite when I got married 15 years ago. We had the intention of one day getting a diamond. I ended up loving the moissanite so much, I never did!! For our anniversary I’m ugrading my set to a 1.5 carat forever one moissanite with matching 7 stone anniversary band! Love moissanite, do not want anything to do with conflict diamonds, the cost, the ethical reasons, etc. It is a choice and I’ve never regretted it!
I love my moissanite ring. It’s big and much more affordable compared to natural diamond.
There are several companies who offer high-quality moissanite. Charles & Colvard are the first manufactures of the stone, but their styles and quality were not that good so I had to return it.
We found a company that sells moissanite on Amazon. Turned out their factory is near my office in Downtown L.A. Great service and really good deal for the ring we got. Check Kobelli and ask for Manny, he is super professional.
Love this post! My boyfriend and I have been talking about diamond alternatives, and moissanite sounds perfect! I definitely have had the same fear, that someone would see the ring and immediately know it’s not the standard diamond, leading to an awkward, judgement filled moment. I’m glad to hear that hasn’t happened! Thank you so much for sharing.
I have a Chatham sapphire engagement ring. No one has ever figured out that it’s lab (probably because of the hefty stuller setting).
I also have two moissanite rings and love them. You can actually get less expensive moissanites, because C&C’s patent expired. Durable for years: check. Inexpensive: check. Moissanites for the win!
Barbara Troxell says
Charles Winston, Harry Winston’s grandson has a line of moissanite jewelry on JTV. Its reasonably priced and they offer a lifetime guarantee on the stones.
I think your ring is absolutely stunning! It does look like the real deal.
Millennial Boss says
By not telling people your ring is moissanite, you are letting them assume it’s a diamond. If you really believe moissanite is better, then own it. Tell people you have a moissanite ring and how much better it is.
Otherwise, you are just being a fake person with a fake diamond.
Millennial Boss says
I definitely hear you but in my circles telling people how much better your choice is than theirs is considered rude!
M. Jackson says
Am I the only one who sees that buying diamond look-a-likes IS supporting the diamond industry? You point out that diamonds-for-engagement was the creation of a diamond company, so why buy into it, but then you still buy something that looks like a diamond? To all who see your ring, you are (apparently) supporting the diamond industry. Until people stop buying diamonds AND their substitutes, the diamond market will stay booming. And I’m not a diamond-hating wacko; I bought diamonds for birthday and anniversary this year. Let’s just not kid ourselves that buying a diamond substitute is anything more than saving money, the end. It’s not bucking Big Corporate, saving the earth, taking the moral high ground, etc.
Millennial Boss says
I like your take but I have to disagree! Definitely food for thought though.
Just read your article and can totally relate! I want a moissanite ring, but I’m worried about negative reactions. Really nice to hear your perspective! 🙂
Millennial Boss says
You’re welcome! Hope this helps.
Skylar Williams says
Thank you for your tip to not get a ring that is too big as it makes it more obvious that the stone isn’t a diamond. I recently proposed to my girlfriend with a moissanite ring and now we’re going to pick out the wedding ring. I will make sure to keep the size in mind as my fiance and I go to the jewelry store.
While recently getting engaged, I was searching for diamond alternatives. DmFirstly because I just like doing things differently and secondly I simply can’t put that kind of monetary value on a stone even if it is a diamond. I absolutely in love with my ring! it always has a sparkle to it. and yes in some lightning you get a little extra color and sparkle. I love that about it! I also love telling the story behind it, what it is how it was discovered how it is created now.
why are some rings on amazon priced at $200 and others at $2500 of the same size? Is one cut better than another? WHat should i be looking for if I want a high quality moissanite?
Millennial Boss says
We purchased through the linked company in the post and not a marketplace back in 2015. I think part of the raising prices could be demand as it has grown over time – still way cheaper than a diamond though. Personally, I didn’t pay extra for the “brightest” stone since the one I had was sparkly enough in my opinion. These are lab created so it’s not quite the same as a diamond in terms of quality.