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WHAT IS MOISSANITE?

WHAT IS MOISSANITE?

Thanks to a growth in demand because supply is easier, faster, and cheaper, the jewelry world has truly embraced lab-grown diamonds, diamond simulants, and diamond alternatives. As consumers have started to realize the benefits of these ”non” diamonds, the options grow.

When choosing fine jewelry, there is now a choice of natural diamonds, lab-grown diamonds, and diamond simulants such as cubic zirconia and moissanite. For many now, the idea of a traditional diamond engagement ring - the most popular jewelry item in the world - is a much wider concept when it comes to the choice of stone.

The History of Moissanite

Back in 1893 in Canyon Diablo, Arizona, future Nobel Laureate French chemist Henri Moissan examined rock samples in a meteor crater and discovered a new mineral. Initially, Moissan believed the crystals to be diamonds but he later (1904) identified them as being silicon carbide.

The mineral was later given the name moissanite in honor of its discoverer. Natural silicon carbide is very rare. For many years, it was thought the only source was meteorites but in 1958 a deposit was found in Wyoming, and in 1959, it was found in a diamond mine in Yakutia, Russia. It is now established that it also occurs as inclusions in diamonds, xenoliths, and types of ultramafic rock (silicon-based lava rock) such as kimberlite and lamproite.

Today, most moissanite is synthetic due to the scarcity of natural moissanite. It was originally manufactured as an abrasive to use in cutting tools because it is incredibly hard.



14k White 5.00 MM Round Forever One Quality™ Charles and Colvard Moissanite Stud Earrings

The first gem-quality moissanite was produced by C3 Inc in 1995 (C3 was formerly Charles & Colvard). This diamond simulant is synthetically engineered to be as resemblant as possible to natural diamonds but its chemical composition is quite different and there is a visible difference. There is a distinctive difference in durability, color, and brilliance between moissanite and diamonds although they are both excellent thermal conductors.

So after that interesting history and geology lesson, let’s look more closely at the properties of the two gemstones and how they compare.

Moissanite vs Diamond

Durability

All minerals including gemstones are measured on the Mohs Scale of Hardness. Each is given a ‘hardness’ grade which is a measurement of a mineral’s resistance to surface scratching. With a grade of 10, diamonds are the hardest mineral of all. Moissanite/silicon carbide is graded at 9.25. Both real diamonds and moissanite are extremely durable which is one reason they are desirable as center stones for engagement rings (and other jewelry).

Color

A colorless diamond (both mined diamonds and lab-grown diamonds) is a stone without any traces of color at all. A colorless diamond is a bright white, dazzling appearance.

Although moissanite gems are labeled as colorless, they still have a faint grayish or yellowish hue in certain lights, and the larger the gem, the more noticeable the color.


8.5 Charles and Covard Round Cut Moissanite Forever One Quality Center Stone Engagement Ring With Round Side Diamonds

Natural diamonds come in all sorts of colors with the color created by the presence of trace elements. In lab-grown diamonds, the trace elements are added during the production process so colors not found in nature are possible.

Moissanite gems are also available in many colors and the colors are created during manufacturing using a special heating process and ion induction.

Both moissanite and diamond color is graded according to the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) grading scale: colorless (D-E-F range), near-colorless (G-H-I range), and with faint hues of color (J-K range).

Brilliance

The is the term given to describe the way light is reflected from a gemstone’s interior. Brilliance is one of the ways moissanite stones and diamonds differ.

The famous brilliant sparkle of diamonds is a combination of three different ways the gem reflects light: brilliance, dispersion, and scintillation. Brilliance is the way white light is reflected back, dispersion is the refraction of the rainbow of colors (think prism) and scintillation is the way the surface of cut diamond sparkles.

Because the crystal faceting pattern of a moissanite stone is different from that of a diamond, the brilliance is also different. The stones can emit fiery, rainbow flashes which to some, resemble the way a disco ball reflects light. The refractive index of moissanite is 2.65-2.69, while that of a diamond is 2.42, another factor that makes the brilliance of the two gemstones different. The larger the stone, the more distinguishable the different types of brilliance are.



Charles and Colvard Moissanite Cushion Cut Halo Style Diamond Engagement Ring In 14KT White Gold

In real terms, a moissanite gem is more brilliant than a diamond, as it has extra bling and reflection. The sparkle of a diamond is equally white and rainbow while in moissanite, the rainbow exceeds the white brilliance.

Also, because of the silicon content, moissanite retains more sparkle in between cleanings because it attracts less dirt and grease than a diamond.

Origin

Having already established that moissanite gems are synthetic and diamonds are natural, the origin is a factor for other reasons. Being man-made, there is complete clarity as to where moissanite comes from, and also no mining is involved so they have a much smaller carbon footprint than mined diamonds.

With increasing environmentally-conscious consumers, there are some ethical questions about diamond mining. Mining does impact the landscape and there is also a history of harsh labor conditions in the industry. Another issue is that of conflict diamonds.

Price

The pricing of natural diamonds is based on the 4Cs (color, cut, clarity, carat) and shape. Lab-grown diamonds are also priced on the 4Cs and shape but they have a lower price than mined diamonds.

Per carat weight, moissanite gems are also cheaper than real diamonds. The cut and clarity grade across different qualities of moissanite is similar so the pricing is based on size and color and is classed as either premium or super-premium. Premium moissanite gems are G or H on the 4Cs scale - nearly colorless. Super-premium gems are D-F, colorless.

Unlike diamonds, moissanite gems are not described in carat weight. Moissanite weighs 10 percent less than diamond and is sold by the millimeter although the diamond equivalent weight in carats is usually shown alongside.

Mars Solitaire Engagement Ring

Choosing Moissanite

Although the original Charles & Colvard worldwide patents for moissanite expired some years ago, the company remains the primary supplier of high-quality moissanite gemstones to the US jewelry industry.

If you are going to choose a piece of moissanite jewelry from Global Rings, ensure it carries the Charles & Colvard Certificate of Authenticity as proof it has been manufactured according to rigorous standards by highly skilled specialists. Each Charles & Colvard gemstone also has a lifetime limited warranty.

One thing to know about Charles & Colvard moissanite is that there are three “brands”. They are Forever One, Forever Brilliant, and Forever Classic. Forever One is the premium option and is described by the company as “a triumph of art, science and sustained effort resulting in unsurpassed, colorless quality”.

 

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