If you’re in the market for a diamond alternative for your engagement ring that’s just as beautiful but is within reach of your budget, you’ve come to the right place! In this alternative to diamonds jewelry guide, you’ll learn:
- What the best diamond alternatives are and why you might want to consider them
- How they compare in price
- Different color options
- How they compare to a diamond
- And much more
Let’s jump right in...
Alternatives to Diamond
Everybody knows that diamonds can be both expensive and difficult to shop for. And before you buy diamond jewelry, you need to look for the four Cs: carat, color, clarity, and cut because these properties will determine the price and quality of the diamond. That being said, not everyone can afford a diamond ring and not everybody who has the money wants to spend it.
Thankfully, these diamond alternatives offer the beauty of diamonds for a fraction of the price. Diamond alternatives are simply white-colored gemstones that look like a diamond at first glance, and because of this, many people opt to shop for these look-alikes instead.
Lab-Created Diamonds are the best alternative to a natural diamond and they’re absolutely gorgeous. They’re practically the same as natural mined diamonds — the only difference is that they were made in a lab instead of being mined from the ground. The color of lab-created diamonds is exactly the same as their mined counterparts and follows the same color grading scale as natural diamonds, where being colorless is rated as "D" and those that are very tinted being S - Z grade.
Both mined and lab diamonds are made from pure carbon and sparkle exactly the same, with the highest hardness of all the stones: 10/10. With a lab diamond, you get the same quality — white, clear, and indistinguishable from a mined diamond for a price of 30-50% less. Overall, lab diamonds give you the exact same product that you’re looking for, with a more affordable price tag. As a result, they are the best alternative to mined diamonds.
If you want something that has even more sparkle than a diamond, Moissanite is your best bet. First discovered in 1893 by a French scientist named Henri Moissan, these were initially thought of as diamonds because of their hardness — 9.5 on the Mohs scale.
They are the second hardest mineral in the world — right behind diamonds, and because they emit very vivid rainbow flashes, Moissanite shines even brighter than a diamond.
While Moissanites are generally colorless, they can sometimes display a yellow or grayish hue. However, new advancements have been made and the gem now comes as colorless as an E grade diamond.
Not only does Moissanite have a similar physical look and hardness as a diamond, but they can also be bought at a fraction of the price, making them very affordable. In the end, Moissanite is an excellent alternative that out-shines a diamond at a price that everyone can afford.
If you’re looking for an alternative to diamonds that can rival its brilliance, Swarovski Zirconia is the best option for you. Made from Zirconia Rough, this stone doesn’t occur in nature and goes through a meticulous construction using high-quality raw materials.
This is a popular alternative to diamonds, as it can effortlessly mirror the brilliance of a diamond and also delivers a hardness that scores slightly lower than moissanite, with 8.5 on the Mohs scale.
It is known as optically flawless and can come in a variety of colors such as white, shades of blue, green, yellow, and even orange. Swarovski Zirconia is noticeably more expensive than the standard Swarovski crystals but it’s still cheaper than diamonds.
Considering that these are a perfect imitation of some of the best cut diamonds, people agree that not only are these worth every cent but also closely match the real thing. Because of this, Swarovski Zirconia has gained popularity in recent years and has become the go-to alternative to diamonds for many.
If you’re looking for a natural alternative to diamonds, then White Sapphire is your best pick. Not only are White Sapphires beautiful, but they’re also durable, affordable, and classy. With a score of 9 on the Mohs scale, these gems are great for everyday wearing and will stand the test of time, which makes them great for engagement and promise rings.
While Sapphires are usually recognized for their brilliant blue hues, they can also be found in other colors such as pink, yellow, white, and green. White Sapphires are gorgeous gems, and they don’t come with the hefty price tag.
You can expect to pay up to 15 times less for a white sapphire compared to a diamond of the same carat weight. White Sapphires are the clear winner when it comes to natural alternatives to diamond, as they give you a sparkling white without the exorbitant price.
For those looking to make huge savings on their engagement rings, Topaz is a great choice. This durable and naturally found gem is incredibly inexpensive, offering a cool grey-white sparkle.
White Topaz has a refined and elegant look that is available in plenty of shapes and sizes. Coming in at 8/10 on the Mohs scale, it's relatively hard and can avoid scratching, which means it can stay beautiful forever. At first glance, people may think that White Topazes are white but they're actually colorless. They do, however, tend to have a glassy appearance and can look milky if there are impurities inside the stone.
Even so, the price of white topaz is far more affordable than diamond gems. This is because they're much more common and aren't as exceptional as diamonds. All in all, if you choose a White Topaz, you should expect to see a grey-white sparkle as opposed to a diamond's white and colored sparkle.
Opals are becoming an increasingly popular diamond alternative because no two are the same. And while they're not visually similar to diamonds, opals have a spectacular display of colors that make them unique in the gem market.
Scoring between 5.5 and 6.5 on the Mohs scale, opals aren't in the same range as diamonds in terms of hardness. They can, however, compete with their brilliance and they’re available in a wide range of colors, from milky white to dark grey, brown, orange, red, and even blue.
Light opals offer magnificent displays of color, which can transform from red to green, blue to violet, and everything in between. And while you can find two diamonds that are visually and compositionally alike, opals never match, so each and every one is unique. In addition, opals are affordable and good quality stones. To put things into perspective, diamonds are generally 14 times more expensive than opals.
Cubic Zirconia is lab-grown zirconium dioxide and is visually similar to diamonds. Because of this, it is the second-best diamond alternative. Two German mineralogists, Chudoba and von Staclzelberg discovered it in 1937 and has since been popular in modern jewelry designs.
Cubic zirconia scores 8.5 on the Mohs scale, so it's hard enough to endure daily wear but they aren't quite as durable as diamonds. If not properly looked after, cubic zirconia owners may need to have their center stone replaced due to scratches and chipping.
Since cubic zirconia gems are created in labs, manufacturers have more control over the colors produced. Because of this, CZ stones mostly have the stunning look of colorless, D-rated diamonds. In terms of the price, cubic zirconia is possibly the most affordable alternative to diamonds. To compare, a 1-carat diamond with flawless clarity and an excellent cut can set you back $11,000, while a 1-carat cubic zirconia will cost you about $20.
Our top pick for the best diamond alternative
Our personal favorite is the lab-created diamond, which is not only a fine gem but is also a more sustainable option than its mined counterpart. Apart from their stunning clarity and amazing luster, lab diamonds are available in the market for up to half the price of mined diamonds, saving you thousands of dollars. But best of all, you get that special, one-of-a-kind ring with a bright and shiny stone that everyone knows is a girl's best friend.
And while there isn't a universally accepted alternative for diamonds, it all boils down to personal preference. There are plenty of options if you're looking for something that has many colors, or if you're after something that looks exactly like a diamond, but without the price. Whatever your preference, the stones above are our top picks for the best diamond alternatives.