Moissanite – Everything You Ever Wanted to Know
What is moissanite, you ask? Well I’ll tell ya – it’s a real gemstone, not a fake diamond or diamond simulant, as some people believe. It’s harder than sapphire or ruby, more brilliant than diamond, and 1/10th the cost. Moissanite is the second hardest gem on the planet! They won’t cloud or scratch like a cubic zirconia. Moissy is the perfect alternative to a diamond – save that money and put it towards your honeymoon, college loans, or towards that dream home.
Several years ago I stopped into a mainstream jewelry store that carries moissanite, so I could look at some stones when we first started selling them. When I asked the sales rep if I could see some of their moissanite jewelry, he told me they only sell it online because they are afraid their sales people will accidentally put the moissanite rings into the diamond cases.
THE SHORT STORY
Moissanite is a unique gem made from silicon carbide. It's a naturally occurring mineral found in limited quantities or as small particles in the earth. Moissanite is not a diamond simulant or diamond substitute; it is its own gem.
For years, scientists tried to recreate this extraordinarily brilliant material. In 1995 Charles & Colvard® developed a way to duplicate this near-colorless jewel by producing large, gem-quality crystals. Since then, and with the expiration of the moissanite patent in 2015, many other companies are growing and cutting moissanite as well. (It's getting wild up in here, moissanite mania!) Moissanite is truly a unique blend of art and science. We have selected and are ONLY selling the best of the best moissanite. We did the research. We did the investigations. We held meetings. And more meetings. We played with the stones. A lot. We drank wine. And more wine. The companies we are purchasing our moissanite from are top notch - they've done their research as well, they are trustworthy - and they are cutting the most beautiful ideal cut moissanite on the market.
Originally discovered in a meteor that hit the Earth some 50,000 years ago in Arizona, USA (nope, not kidding, see cool ass meteor pic below) by renowned French chemist and Nobel Prize winner Henri Moissan in 1893— the jewel was later named in his honor by a Tiffany & Co. gemologist. At first, he mistakenly identified what he had found as diamonds. Later, in 1904, he correctly identified the crystals as silicon carbide.
Even better, the diamond really falls behind when it comes to the cost—moissanite runs about one-tenth the price. Only experts can tell the difference by using special instruments, and many diamond testers that jewelers use are fooled by the super sexy moissanite. So are the jewelers themselves! When I was in Cancun, I even fooled 2 diamond dealers. I was hanging out in the pool, and I may have had a Corona in hand, when some cute guy complimented me on my 3.5 carat emerald cut Forever Brilliant. I said thank you, let him take a closer look, and then told him it was a moissanite. He couldn't believe it. He called his wife over, she was a dealer as well, and she couldn't believe it either. We hung out for a while, and he kept looking at it and shaking his head in disbelief.
THE IN-DEPTH SCOOP
HOW IS MOISSANITE CREATED?
Single-crystal moissanite is manufactured through a patented thermal growing process. The process is difficult and expensive, preventing mass production. Previously, Charles & Colvard® was the sole source and global distributor of created moissanite, with proprietary patents for the manufacturing process itself, as well as for its use as a gem. In 2015, the patents began expiring, and now we've seen many other companies growing and cutting moissanite, like the NEO, and our new AMADA (stay tuned for more info). But not all moissanite is created equal. There are many lower quality stones out there, so use caution. If it seems too good to be true - as in, cheap as all hell - chances are it's a lower quality stone, or a coated CZ. Please purchase from a reputable jeweler, us or someone else. But we suggest you purchase from us, cuz we are awesome. And cute.
HOW DO YOU ENSURE THE PRODUCT AND QUALITY IN THE PRODUCTION OF CREATED MOISSANITE?
Every moissanite stone is produced within exacting specifications and high quality control standards. Our favorite brands all have a warranty. NEO Moissanite has the most comprehensive warranty, it covers chips and scratches as well as color changes and clouding.
WHAT MAKES MOISSANITE “SPARKLE”? WHAT CHARACTERISTICS OF MOISSANITE GIVE IT SUCH EXCEPTIONAL BRILLIANCE?
The Refractive Index (RI) of a gemstone is the most important optical property affecting its potential brilliance (sparkle). With an RI of 2.65 – 2.69, moissanite displays more brilliance than diamond (RI 2.42) or any other popular gemstone, such as ruby (RI 1.77) and sapphire (RI 1.77). I hear ya, my eyes glazed over a bit there.
WILL MOISSANITES BRILLIANCE EVER FADE?
No. And if it does, you grab that warranty card and use it's magical powers to replace your stone.
HOW IS MOISSANITE GRADED FOR CLARITY?
Using a 10x jeweler's loupe, each individual jewel is examined for inclusions that may affect its optical performance.
DOES MOISSANITE HAVE INCLUSIONS?
Some moissanite has needle-like inclusions that are called micropipes. They can be seen under magnification, they are not visible to the naked eye. Higher quality moissanite has little to no micropipes. When the crystal is grown too quickly, stones with more micropipes are the result.
IS MOISSANITE AVAILABLE IN COLORS?
Several of the companies we work with are now able to cut some beautiful colored moissanite. They are quite rare. NEO moissanite comes in rounds up to 2 carats; with pinks, peachs, cognac, greens and a beautiful blue. We can also get gray ZAYA Moissanite in a number of cuts and sizes. Ahhh, and shhh, don't tell anyone, but we have a small private stash of dark and medium green NEOs, if you are interested. They are kinda stunning.
WILL MOISSANITE CHANGE COLOR OVER TIME OR FADE?
No. There are no likely situations in which the color of moissanite will be permanently changed. A temporary color change will occur when moissanite is exposed to heat (a jeweler's torch) during jewelry repair. However, with proper bench techniques, there is no resulting damage and moissanite returns to its normal color after the jewel cools to room temperature. If you are a jeweler, do NOT quench the hot stone. #screwed
ARE MOISSANITE HAND OR MACHINE CUT?
All types of moissanite we sell are all cut by hand, by master gem-cutters.
WHAT SHAPES ARE AVAILABLE?
While a round cut continues to be our most popular, fancy cuts such as cushion, oval, emerald, princess, radiant, pear, heart, trillion, trapezoid, elongated cushions, elongated emeralds, yada yada there are too many more to list! Let's just say - we can get ya all the shapes your moissanite lovin' heart desires. How about Old European cut rounds, or a criss cut emerald? Shield cuts, Old Mine Cut cushions, square radiants, you name it.
WHAT GIVES MOISSANITE ITS FIRE?
Moissanite displays 2.4 times more dispersion or fire than diamond (0.044) and much more dispersion than ruby (0.018), sapphire (0.018) and emerald (0.014), which gives it a gorgeous depth and flash.
WILL MY MOISSANITE EVER LOSE ITS FIRE?
No. Grab that warranty card again, if ya'll have any issues.
IS MOISSANITE RESISTANT TO SCRATCHING?
Yes. Moissanite is durable and tough. It is extremely resistant to scratching and abrasion. I tried to scratch the hell outta a junker a while back, using a coarse jeweler's wheel and nothing, not a mark. Diamond is the hardest gemstone used in jewelry but moissanite, with a hardness of 9.25, is harder than all other gemstones including ruby and sapphire.
CAN MOISSANITE BREAK EASILY?
No. Based on measurable scientific studies in high pressure research, moissanite is extremely resistant to breaking and chipping. In fact, moissanite is one of the hardest jewels known to man and will stand the test of time.
IS IT HEAT TOLERANT?
Yes. Moissanite has heat resistance properties superior to many other jewels. Tests prove that at 2000F, higher than the equivalent intensity of a house fire, moissanite remains intact and as brilliant as the day it was created. High heat tolerance also makes moissanite less likely to experience heat damage during jewelry repair.
HOW CAN IT BE DISTINGUISHED FROM OTHER COLORLESS GEMS?
There are four (4) methods:
Test using a diamond/moissanite tester or other testing device used to distinguish moissanite.
Determine if doubling of facet junctions is visible through magnification.
Unique needle-like or micropipe type inclusions that typical are perpendicular to the table facet are visible only under magnification in a percentage of moissanite.
Specific gravity and refractive index are important attributes in gemstone identification useful for a gemologist with appropriate equipment to identify moissanite.
IS IT TRUE THAT MOISSANITE CAN TEST POSITIVE AS A DAMOND?
Yes. Near-colorless created moissanite has many similar physical properties to those of diamond and will test positive for diamond when using a thermal diamond tester.
WHY IS MOISSANITE SOLD BY MILLIMETER AND NOT CARAT WEIGHT?
Carat weight is the traditional measuring unit of a diamond's weight. Moissanite is usually listed in millimeters as they are *just* slightly lighter in weight than diamonds. For example, a 6.5mm round diamond weighs 1.0 carat, while a 6.5mm round moissanite weighs 0.88 carat. The two stones would be the same size looking from the top down - 6.5mm in diameter. Crown height, table size and pavilion sizes will vary from one manufacturer to the next. All stones are listed with their actual size in millimeter (mm) and/or the diamond equivalent in carats.
-------- JEWELRY REPAIR & CARE --------
HOW DO YOU CLEAN IT?
You can clean a moissanite the same way you would diamond or any other fine gemstone. As with any fine jewelry item, you would not want to dump all of your jewelry into an ultrasonic cleaner at once to guard against possible chipping, but your moissanite jewel is perfectly safe under normal ultrasonic cleaning. (Unless you have pave set stones - we do not recommend using an ultrasonic cleaner on pave set stones, as it will rattle them loose over time.) You can also clean them with a commercial (non-acid based) jewelry cleaner or mild soap and water using a soft toothbrush.
CLEANING TIP: When washing your hands, allow the water to run over your rings to thoroughly rinse away any soap, this will help keep your sexy moissanite cleaner longer.
HOW DOES MOISSANITE HOLD UP IN REPAIRS AND SIZING?
It's a highly stable material, although it does freak some jewelers out - only because they don't know how awesome moissanite is, yet. It is durable and tough, extremely resistant to scratching, abrasion, breaking, or chipping. In addition, high heat tolerance makes moissanite less likely to experience heat damage during jewelry repair.
Check me out in my first big feature film. Oh shit, sorry, I mean in a promotional video for Charles & Colvard. Back when I had short hair and apparently needed assistance with layering necklaces. Why in the hell didn't the producer fix 'em? I need a fluffer, people! Makes me nuts every time I watch it.