Moissanite's sparkle on the left is greater than that of the diamond on the right.
What is as hard as a diamond, passes an electronic tester as a diamond, but has more sparkle and brilliance than a diamond? The answer: moissanite.
Moissanite is a rare, naturally-occurring mineral that is found in meteorites and in limited areas beneath the earth's surface. Because the crystals are so small and scarce, all of the jewels are now created in a lab.
Through advanced technology, scientists have developed a way to duplicate this unique mineral (called silicon carbide) through a thermal growing process. This process is very difficult and expensive, which prevents mass production of the gem. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, the value of laboratory-created gemstones, including moissanite, increased by almost 50% between 2004 and 2005.
How to Differentiate Moissanite from Diamonds
There are several ways to identify moissanite – use a testing machine or look for double refraction or inclusions.
- Using Tester Model 590 is the easiest way to distinguish moissanite from diamond. Regular Thermal Diamond testers will only identify diamonds, not moissanite.
- Another way to determine whether a gem is moissanite is to look for double refractions by using a jeweler’s loupe. Diamonds give off a single refraction at the facet junctions, while moissanite has visible doubling – or two parallel lines – at the junctions.
- Lastly, using a jeweler’s loupe, look for inclusions, which are white needle-like or tube-like lines that run sub-parallel to one another.
The Four C’s of Moissanite
Like diamonds, moissanite can be graded on the same Four C’s: clarity, color, cut, and carat weight.
All moissanite gems have inclusions, which is one of the primary ways to distinguish it from a diamond. The clarity of moissanite is graded by determining if and how much the inclusions affect the ability for light to reflect through the stone. The less light a jewel reflects, the lower the score. If there are inclusions visible to the naked eye, the jewel can not be sold.
Moissanite is available in different colors just as diamonds are, but most Moissanite is sold near-colorless. The color of Moissanite does not change permanently; however, a color change will occur when Moissanite is exposed to extreme temperatures as with jewelry repair.
Each Moissanite jewel is hand cut. They are available in all the shapes available in diamond cuts, including Emerald, Heart, Marquise, Oval, Pear, Princess, Round, and Radiant.
Since moissanite stones weigh slightly less than diamonds, most are listed with their actual size in millimeters rather than in carat weight. If they are given a carat weight, they weight may be listed in the diamond equivalent. For example, a 6.5mm round diamond would weigh 1.0ct while a 6.5mm moissanite would weigh 0.88ct.
How It Stacks Up
Moissanite is second in hardness, diamond being the hardest. (Diamond hardness is a 10 while moissanite is 9.25 on the Mohs Hardness Scale.) It is more refractive (reflects more light) than a diamond, is more durable, and resists scratching and breaking better than a diamond.
A unique jewel that is nearly colorless, moissanite possesses exceptional brilliance and fire. Around the world actors, athletes, models, musicians, and television personalities are wearing moissanite jewelry. The jewels are quickly replacing diamonds and may even become a girl’s new best friend.