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Over 10 years ago, you may not have been exposed to moissanite or known that it was an alternative to diamond. As typical wedding traditions or social expectations stood, a man proposed to a woman with a diamond ring that he spent X amount of his yearly salary on.
As wedding traditions are rapidly being questioned and dumped due to sheer outdatedness or unethicality, other aspects of the industry are changing as well, including what type of stone to get in an engagement ring. It’s no secret that the diamond mining industry has detrimental impacts on the environment, but just how unethical is the business, and how does this bring moissanite into play?
First, we should dive into why people are starting to stray from engagement traditions like blowing their savings on a huge ring, wedding party, and reception.
Couples Are Prioritizing Their Spending
In this post-pandemic world when inflation continues to rise but people want to continue living their lives, we find ways to acclimate to our new economy. Budgeting, prioritizing, and investing are all avenues people are turning down to make the most out of the money they earn. Not only are these tactics becoming household necessities to keep their finances in check, but people are becoming much pickier about where their money goes and how it’s used.
When it comes to weddings – an industry that will thrive regardless of the state of the economy – young couples are beginning to buckle down on their large expenses, from venues to rings to guest lists, and make sure they’re in political or ethical alignment with companies they give their money to as well.
In 2022, millennials and zoomers are pushing the envelope of supporting environmentally friendly and ethical businesses harder than any generation has before. They don’t want to surrender their hard-earned cash to businesses that don’t politically and ethically align with their own views, especially at a time when the cost of living is astronomically inflated and their dollars are precious.
Due to post-pandemic inflation, costs in just about every wedding category have risen, from heightened traveling costs to food costs to dresses, and ring prices! The question, “why are we spending this much money?” becomes more and more relevant to couples getting ready to tie the knot.
An area of cost-cutting that’s taking the wedding industry– specifically, the ring industry– by storm lies with what type of gemstone couples are choosing for their engagement and wedding rings. Couples are realizing how expensive, labor-intensive, and environmentally damaging the diamond industry is, which ultimately leads them toward a new gem– moissanite. With couples sticking to strict budgets, prioritizing what areas they are willing to spend their budget, and loosening the generational pressure of keeping up with wedding traditions, moissanite is quickly becoming a popular choice for engagement and wedding rings.
What is Moissanite?
What is moissanite, and how is it made? Well, in the most basic definition, moissanite is a mineral composed of silicon carbide. In comparison to diamonds, they look almost identical. Moissanites may look more clear, more bright, and more colorful than diamonds due to the fact that there’s significantly less chance for imperfections when being created in a lab.
Seldom occurring in nature, moissanite has only been known to occasionally be found in upper mantle rock and in meteorites. Due to their rarity in nature, the moissanite we see in rings and other jewelry is lab-grown through a process of combining carbon and silicon using extreme heat and pressure. This process cuts environmental and labor impact down significantly and, in comparison to mined diamonds, is significantly more eco-friendly.
How Environmentally Damaging Can Diamond Mining Really Be?
It’s a claim heard ‘round the world, that diamond mining is bad for the environment. But how exactly does diamond mining impact its surrounding environment? The answer is, it’s actually very devastating.
A significant amount of diamonds that occur in nature exist in African countries, and to extract these diamonds, water mining is used. In African countries, water is already a scarce resource, so using their water supply to gain capital is not only detrimental to their communities but extremely unethical.
Along with effects like tainted water supplies, dried-out natural water sources, and even the smog and bad air quality produced by the electrical machinery used to extract the mineral, diamond mining is negatively associated with horrible working conditions for miners. In Africa, children are typically exploited, and workers sometimes make wages equivalent to one dollar a day.
In light of these negative impacts, the diamond mining process has begun to be highly regulated, and countries are making strides to considerably decrease these impacts.
All of this being said, we now have insight as to why people are starting to leave the diamond industry behind and turn to moissanite as an alternative.
What Are the Main Differences Between Diamonds and Moissanites?
Along with having a lower environmental impact, moissanite stones come at a much smaller price. One of the main questions asked when considering the differences between the two is of course, can you see the difference? Unless you have experience in the fine jewelry department, you most likely will not be able to tell the difference between diamond and moissanite with the naked eye.
The main differences between diamond and moissanite come down to three key things: hardness, fire, and price. There are no harder gemstones than diamonds. The diamond sits at a 10 on the Mohs hardness scale, and while moissanite isn’t technically as structurally hard as diamond, it resides at a 9.25 on this scale. To clarify how minuscule of a difference that is in perspective, granite sits at a 7 on the Mohs scale. Diamond and moissanite really are quite similar in terms of hardness.
Fire is the colored flashes that you can visibly see when light hits a gemstone. While diamond does have a fire, notably seen in specific cuts, moissanite typically has more fire, meaning they appear more colorful and flashy than a diamond in the light. Because all of the moissanite you’re likely to see will be man-made, moissanite is also more likely to have perfect clarity over diamonds. That being said, these qualities are quite hard to distinguish with the human eye alone.
The biggest difference between these two stones comes down to price. Moissanite is significantly more affordable than diamond due to factors like desirability and tradition. As of recently, around 85% of couples are still choosing to buy diamonds over moissanite, keeping the price of diamond rings high and moissanite rings relatively affordable.
All in All…
As millennials and zoomers enter their wedding eras, the importance of spending their money on companies and products that are ethical and environmentally friendly skyrockets. Young couples are also prioritizing putting their hard-earned savings towards things like homes, land, and big trips over things like huge weddings, fancy food, and expensive diamonds.
Ultimately, the choice between buying a diamond ring or a moissanite ring is in the hands of the buyer. There is no right or wrong choice, especially when diamond companies are starting to dedicate major time and effort to decrease their carbon footprint. But if the price is a large factor in your decision-making, then moissanite is the clear winner.
With more and more couples factoring price and ethicality into their decisions, moissanite engagement rings will only continue to grow as an industry. Sure, diamonds fit the idea of a ‘traditional’ engagement ring, but we live in a time when traditions are constantly being tested for their merit. From this point further, moissanite will only continue to grow in popularity.