White Gemstones Compared

Most of you probably picture a diamond when you think of a white gemstone. However, some of you might jump to some of diamond’s lesser-known but still beautiful alternatives. Popular white gemstones (besides diamond) include white sapphire, cubic zirconia, white topaz, and of course, moissanite. Each of these jewels has its own characteristics, and the differences start at the molecular level:

White gemstones chemical composition

Beautiful Science! The chemical makeup of five different white gemstones

A stone’s chemical makeup is not just cool science-y stuff – it’s also responsible for the gemological properties the gemstone exhibits. Some of these include: brilliance (how “sparkly” the gemstone is), fire (how light passes through the gemstone), and hardness (the gemstone’s resistance to scratching). The chart below compares five white gemstones on each of these properties.


If you’re looking for a stone with eye-catching sparkle, moissanite, diamond, and cubic zirconia are your best bets. If you need something that can stand up to a lot of wear and tear, diamond, moissanite, and white sapphire make great choices.

While a gem’s characteristics are a big part of its appeal, there are other considerations consumers may take into account before purchasing one white gemstone over another. Cost, symbolism, mining practices, and even geopolitics might affect what gemstone a consumer might want to purchase. Every jewel has its own sets of pros and cons. For example, let’s take a look at diamond:


Diamonds, while symbolizing love, romance, and wealth, are also incredibly expensive. In addition, certain methods of diamond sourcing are considered by many to be morally questionable, and diamond mining practices are hard on the environment.

Moissanite, on the other hand, is conflict-free, eco-friendly, and far less expensive than diamond. It’s also even rarer! However, it doesn’t have the same emotional associations as diamond (although that is starting to change)! Some moissy facts:


Let’s take a look at white sapphire and white topaz:


Both are durable and reasonably priced; however, neither white sapphire nor white topaz has the same level of sparkle, brilliance, or shine as a diamond or moissanite.

Finally, we consider cubic zirconia. Unlike the other gemstones on this list, CZ is a true diamond simulant, i.e. designed to be as similar to diamond as possible.


CZ is very affordable, and is the most common diamond simulant found in jewelry. However, it’s not anywhere near as hard as diamond or moissanite, and scratches quite easily.

Congrats! You’re now a white gemstone expert!