A Sparkle for Every Budget: 5 Affordable Alternatives to Natural Diamonds

Diamonds, revered for their scarcity, resilience, and mesmerizing brilliance, are the most coveted gemstones. However, they may not be affordable for everyone. Are you seeking a stunning gemstone for your jewelry or engagement ring without the hefty price tag of natural diamonds? Numerous alternatives provide equal sparkle and beauty at a more wallet-friendly cost. Explore these five budget-conscious and ethically-sound diamond substitutes.

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Lab-Grown Diamonds

As the name suggests, scientists create lab diamonds in the laboratory. These diamonds are deemed authentic, as they originate from natural diamond "seeds." Utilizing cutting-edge technology, scientists reproduce the conditions under which diamonds naturally form, maintaining their original essence.

Since these diamonds possess the same physical and chemical characteristics as natural diamonds, they look the same, and you cannot tell the two apart without special lab equipment. Synthetic diamonds, available in various shapes and sizes, boast impressive durability, making them an outstanding option for engagement rings and frequently worn jewelry.

Although lab-grown diamonds contain carbon just like mined diamonds their color clarity is not the same. As a result, they go for about half the price of natural diamonds. This means you can get a bigger stone for less than you would pay for a natural diamond of the same size. And the most important thing is that they're sustainable, making them an ethical and eco-friendly choice.


Moissanite refers to naturally occurring or lab-gown silicon carbide crystals that have been cut and polished to look like diamonds. Naturally occurring moissanite is very rare and is found in meteorites and upper mantle rock.

This gem is the second hardest with a hardness of 9.25 on the Mohs scale, coming after diamond with a hardness of 10; thus, it is very durable. However, it is quite different from natural diamonds visually and compositionally.

Since its faceting pattern is different from that of diamonds, it has a higher fire, brilliance, and refractive index than natural diamonds. This makes it emit rainbow flashes and gives it a disco ball effect in the sun that most people love. This differentiates it from genuine diamonds. Moissanite gives off a grayish or yellowish hue in certain lights, while diamond has a bright white appearance.

It comes at a fraction of the cost of natural diamonds, but prices vary based on the size and quality of the stone. And it is eco-friendly as it is mainly created in a lab instead of mined from the ground.

White Sapphire

White sapphire refers to sapphires that have a white or colorless hue. While blue sapphires remain the most sought-after variety, white sapphires serve as a superb alternative to diamonds.

This type of sapphire can either be mined or grown in a lab. Lab-grown white sapphires look exactly like mined ones, so you cannot spot any differences with the naked eye.

Compared to diamonds, sapphires have less brilliance, fire, and sparkle. They have a hardness of 9 on the Mohs scale, meaning they are softer than diamonds but an ideal stone for everyday jewelry.

White sapphires don't go through the Kimberly process like diamonds. However, since they are more affordable than diamonds, they're unlikely to be mined to support conflict. Therefore, they're an excellent choice for anyone looking for ethically sourced gems. Additionally, well-cut sapphires have excellent brilliance, a high luster, and sparkle and are durable and scratch resistant, making them an ideal choice for everyday jewelry. 

Cubic Zirconia

Cubic zirconia refers to a variety of synthetic crystals made from zirconium dioxide. This diamond simulant is usually colorless or white, but manufacturers may color them in various colors. It has a hardness rating of 8.25-8.50 on the Mohs scale, meaning it's much softer than diamond.

While cubic zirconia features excellent brilliance and fire, diamonds have a higher refractive index and lower dispersion rate. It's easy to tell apart cubic zirconia from diamonds because it gives off a rainbow hue while diamond gives off a bright white light.

Cubic zirconia is more affordable than diamond. It's perfect for those who want a stone with flashy fire, with a variety of colors to choose from, at an economical price.

Synthetic Gemstones

Synthetic gemstones are an increasingly popular alternative to natural diamonds. Synthetic gemstones are man-made gems that look virtually identical to their naturally occurring counterparts but come with several benefits over mined diamonds and other precious stones.

Popular synthetic gemstones include synthetic emeralds, rubies, and sapphires. These are created in a lab setting using the same materials found in natural gemstones. Synthetic gemstones' chemical composition, physical properties, and appearance are virtually indistinguishable from their naturally occurring counterparts.

The benefits of synthetic gemstones far outweigh those of natural stones. They come at a significantly lower price than mined diamonds or other precious stones. Additionally, because they are created in a lab, their existence is more ethically sound and much more sustainable.

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