Moissanite Jewellery: A sparking alternative to diamonds?
So, if you are looking for jewelry with a bit more sparkle, you might want to consider moissanite jewelry. Moissanite is very similar in nature to diamonds - but it has not yet earned the same worldwide popularity as its natural counterpart.
What is Moissanite?
Moissanite was first discovered in 1893 by Nobel Prize-winner Henri Moissan while he was searching for an elusive form of natural diamond. He found tiny crystals near Arizona's Diablo Canyon and named them after himself.
Partly because of how uncommon they are, these crystals have hardly ever been examined until recently. It wasn't until 1991 that scientists used high-powered electron microscopes to determine the chemical makeup of moissanite. Later on, they would use various spectroscopic methods to analyze the crystals and examine how they react to different kinds of light.
Moissanite is made up mainly of silicon and carbon and has a hexagonal crystal structure, just like a diamond. This gives moissanite its characteristic sparkle and fire, which were inspired by natural diamonds. However, while scientists originally thought that this unique gemstone was merely a form of synthetic diamond, study shows otherwise.
Where is It Found?
Moissanite is usually found in meteorites trapped inside kimberlite pipes - which are basically magma conduits that circulate within the earth's crust. These deposits of moissanite are known as "impactites" because they appear after a large impact or asteroid strike on the Earth's surface, which causes their creation.
However, even though meteors have been identified as one of the biggest producers of natural moissanite crystals, it has only been discovered in Australia and parts of Arizona so far. Today, most commercial-grade moissanites come from man-made processes inside certain labs that use high temperatures to create these gems.
What does Moissanite look like?
Basically, moissanite is very similar in appearance to diamonds. It has a white, sparkly body that doesn't catch too many colors under normal light. If you are planning on buying or selling jewelry with this gemstone, it might be helpful to know what the standard techniques for identifying one are.
Firstly, moissanite weighs significantly less than diamonds - which range from three to ten carats. Most of the time, they weigh 0.75 carats or less and have a specific gravity that can sometimes go below 3.0 if cut poorly. Moissanites usually have an octahedral crystal form but only about 10% of them actually resemble this shape naturally - which is why most people opt for round-shaped
According to the GIA's Diamond Dossier, natural moissanite is extremely rare - but their appearance can be quite attractive in some cases. Natural moissanite usually present themselves as either yellow or green gems that sometimes have an orange tint towards the center.
Some moissanites can also be pink, reddish-orange, or brown in color - but this is very uncommon. Natural moissanites are usually set apart from natural diamonds by their dark grey to black streak that appears under UV light.
How does it rate?
Moissanite has a hardness rating of 9 on the Mohs Scale, which ranks softer than diamond (10) and sapphire (9). However, this doesn't mean that you have to worry about scratches being too visible on your jewelry piece. As long as you take care of your new gemstone, you should be fine for quite some time.
Caring for Moissanite
Since it's so different from other gems, some people wonder if there are any special care instructions for moissanite jewelry. The most important thing to remember is that it is extremely important not to expose your jewelry to any chemicals - including chlorine and household cleaners.
You should also try to avoid wearing your jewelry while taking part in strenuous activities, such as sports or cleaning the house. Like other gemstones, sometimes jewelry can be damaged without warning.
If you are planning to buy a ring with this gemstone, then you might want to know how much it costs compared with other options on the market. According to MoissaniteCo's website, their prices start at about US$200 per carat. This means that 1 carat of moissanite can go up to $400 - whereas 1 carat of diamonds usually ranges from $3000-$5000.
De Beers' website listed the price for one 22 karat yellow-green moissanite gem at $45.37, which is about 0.09 carats of colorless D-color VS2 clarity diamond . In other words, a very tiny stone of this quality would cost approximately $450 dollars.
De Beers' Forever One line also created larger stones from 1 carat to 2 carats priced from $300 - $3000 per piece depending on the size and color of the stone itself. These stones can be used as either earrings or pendants because they come with a mounting that contains a screw-back closure – making it easy to switch from one piece of jewelry to another.
Famous use of Moissanite
Tiffany & Co. announced the release of a fine jewelry collection designed with moissanite gemstones in 2004, marking this alternative gem's first appearance in fine jewelry. In 2005, Tiffany & Co. depicted its diamond ring from the famous movie 'Breakfast at Tiffany's' with a moissanite stone instead of a diamond for the film's 50 th anniversary.
In 2008, both De Beers and Swarovski partnered up to create the Forever One line of diamond simulants using synthetic moissanite crystals to be sold in loose form and later as part of finished pieces. The resulting stones cost about one-seventh (1/7) of their lab-grown diamonds to make and can produce colorless or near-colorless diamonds with similar sparkle to their real diamond counterparts.
Is it a real alternative to Diamonds?
In comparison with other diamond alternatives, moissanite is definitely a popular choice. However, it can't be denied that this gemstone still has a very long way ahead before it will be considered as a serious replacement for diamonds.
Moissanite rings are a good option for those who want the brilliance and sparkle of diamonds but don't have thousands of dollars to spend on them – especially if you're planning to use your new ring every day. Moissanite stones themselves look almost exactly like diamond stones – although they do not last as long or remain as clear under the same harsh conditions compared with their counterparts.