- 5 years ago
In 1893, Dr. Henri Moissan, a Nobel prize winning scientist, was examining a meteorite crater in Diablo Canyon in Arizona. He found tiny crystals that he incorrectly identified as diamonds.
In 1905, Tiffany & Co gem expert and mineralogist, George Kunz, correctly identified the tiny crystals as Silicon Carbide, and suggested the mineral be named “Moissanite” in Dr. Moissan’s honor.
The moissanite we wear today, which is made from Silicon and Carbon, is a synthetic gem cut from crystals that are grown in a lab. Moissanite, SiC, is found in nature but in minute quantities. The crystals are 2mm or smaller and can’t be cut into gem quality stones. SiC is plentiful in outer space, but is very rare on Earth.
A company called Cree discovered a polytype of moissanite, 6H polytype, that grows single, large crystals. These are the crystals moissanite stones are cut from. The crystals have the same make-up as moissanite in nature, Silicon and Carbon, but have a crystalline structure that allows them to grow into single crystals. Growing moissanite is labor intensive, requires precision instruments and specialized tools, and takes up to a month. The patents expire in 2015. There is some debate about what will happen to the price of moissanite. Some feel the price will drop, but others disagree because of the expense and expertise required to manufacture the Silicon Carbide crystals.
Uncut Moissanite Crystals
Moissanite hit the market in 1998, and was originally marketed as a diamond simulant. The stone is now being marketed as its own stone since it doesn’t share many properties with diamonds. Moissanite is twice as sparkly, which can distinguish it from diamonds to a trained eye, and is not available as a colorless stone like diamonds are. Moissanite has a tendency to have a warm undertone in certain lighting. Some moissanite jewels show more color than others. The fancy cuts tend to have more body color than round cuts. Larger carat sizes may also show more body color. There are treatments that are used to minimize body color. Some people are more sensitive to color than others, and others claim to see very minimal body color in their stone.
Moissanite is gaining popularity in jewelry. Moissanite is even tougher than diamonds (which means it’s less likely to chip), and has a hardness of 9, not the the 9.25 it is touted as having. A hardness of 9.25 does not exist on the Moh’s scale. It has more than twice the fire of a diamond, which makes it very sparkly.
It is very subjective what makes a stone valuable to each individual. It all depends on what you value. If you value durability, a reasonable price, a very sparkly stone, and the ethical benefits of having been grown in a lab, moissanite may be your stone of choice.
Post your Moissy rings!