Moissanite is a naturally occurring mineral composed of silicon carbide (SiC) that was discovered in 1893 by French chemist Henri Moissan in a meteor crater in Arizona. Initially mistaken for diamonds due to its brilliance and hardness, moissanite is now synthesized for various industrial applications and as a diamond alternative in jewelry.
How Moissanite Is Made:
Moissanite can be found in nature, but it is exceptionally rare. Most moissanite used in jewelry is lab-created through a process called the high-pressure, high-temperature (HPHT) method or the chemical vapor deposition (CVD) method. These processes involve growing moissanite crystals in controlled laboratory environments using silicon carbide as the primary ingredient.
History & Origins:
Moissanite is named after Henri Moissan, who discovered it in 1893 while examining rock samples from a meteor crater in Canyon Diablo, Arizona. Initially, he mistook it for diamonds, but subsequent analysis revealed it to be a new mineral composed of silicon carbide.
Qualities of Moissanite:
- Brilliance: Moissanite exhibits exceptional brilliance, which refers to its ability to reflect light and sparkle.
- Hardness: On the Mohs scale of hardness, moissanite scores 9.25, making it very durable and suitable for everyday wear.
- Color: Natural moissanite is typically colorless, but it can also occur in shades of green, yellow, and gray. Lab-created moissanite is usually colorless.
- Fire: Moissanite has a high dispersion, meaning it disperses light into spectral colors, creating a rainbow-like effect.
Moissanite Pros and Cons:
- Affordability: Moissanite is generally more affordable than diamonds of similar size and quality.
- Brilliance: Its exceptional brilliance and fire make it an attractive option for jewelry.
- Durability: Moissanite is highly durable and resistant to scratching and chipping.
- Ethical: Lab-created moissanite is an ethical choice as it does not involve mining.
- Color: Some people prefer the colorlessness of diamonds over moissanite, although this can vary based on personal preference.
- Resale Value: Moissanite typically has lower resale value compared to diamonds.
- Origin: Some individuals may prefer the natural origin of diamonds over lab-created moissanite.
Moissanite vs. Diamond:
Price: Moissanite is generally more affordable than diamonds, with prices typically a fraction of the cost of a diamond of similar size and quality.
Durability: Both moissanite and diamond are highly durable, but diamond is slightly harder, ranking 10 on the Mohs scale compared to moissanite's 9.25. However, moissanite is still suitable for everyday wear.
In summary, moissanite is a popular diamond alternative prized for its brilliance, durability, and affordability, making it a desirable option for those seeking an ethical and budget-friendly choice in jewelry.