Moissanite rings are becoming more popular every day. But what exactly is Moissanite anyway?
In 1893 around Canyon Diablo, Arizona, Dr. Henri Moissan happened upon a meteor crater which contained microscopic particles of an unknown mineral. Dr. Moissan, the 1906 Nobel Prize Winner in Chemistry, initially identified the stones as diamonds but after years of study he determined these crystals were actually silicon carbide. Christened 'Moissanite' in his honor, these minerals were full of luster, fire and brilliance and possessed a similar hardness to a diamond. That small pocket of Moissanite, unfortunately, was not even enough to use in a single piece of jewelry; Thus, natural Moissanite never became a viable product.
More than a century later, researchers at the Research Triangle Park in NC State recreated silicon carbide crystals in a laboratory using an innovative thermal growing process. In 1998, Charles & Colvard (formerly known as C3 Inc.) received patents to create and market this “new diamond simulate.”
Since becoming available for sale to the general public in 1998, Moissanite instantly garnered a following due to its stunning brilliance, durability, and lower cost. Often called the “world’s most brilliant gem,” Moissanite includes optical properties that allow light, both natural and artificial, to reflect off the stone with fire more intense than what is seen in Diamonds, Sapphires or Emeralds.
A Moissanite stone is graded through similar methods as a traditional diamond: cut, color clarity and carat weight.
- Cut grade denotes how well a stone is cut and with grades ranging from Excellent to Poor. The better the cut, the better light can effectively travel throughout the stone.
- Color grade refers to the amount of color present in the stone. Moissanite color grades are broken down into three major groups:
- Colorless: D, E, or F color grade.
- Slightly Colorless: G, H, or I color grade
- Yellow Tinted: J or K color grade
- Fancy Colors (see more info below)
Clarity grade indicates a stone's inclusions or imperfections. Nearly all gemstones have inclusions, but luckily for Moissanite, most of its inclusions are not visible to the naked eye and require intense magnification to be seen. This is know as being "eye-clean."
Carat weight refers to how heavy a stone is. Moissanite is 15% less dense than a diamond, which makes comparing the two stones by carat weight difficult. As a result, Moissanites are typically denoted by their millimeter size and "diamond equivalent weight." For example: a 6.5mm Moissanite is comparable to a one carat Diamond.
One of the most attractive qualities of Moissanite as a precious stone is that there are none of the ethical dilemmas surrounding the stone that typically apply to earth mined Diamonds. Since Moissanites are not mined from the earth and have minimal environmental impact or negative social implications, one has a peace of mind when purchasing a Moissanite that traditional Diamonds don't always offer.
Stone shapes and sizes are as varied as their owner. While round is still the most popular shape for everything from engagement rings to necklaces, moissanite is also available in oval, trillion (rounded triangle), pear and princess cut, and more.
Another popular feature of Moissanite that can't be ignored is it's relative price tag. Moissanite, when compared to Diamonds (both earth mined and lab grown) and other precious gemstones like Sapphires, Emeralds, and others, comes in as a far more economical choice. Considering it's relative hardness and optical brilliance -- Moissanite is quite a steal for the wearer that isn't offended by it's lab-grown origins and interesting back story. It's cost per carat weight makes it an ideal choice for someone that wants a large look (particularly 1.5 carats or more) and prefers the sparkly look of a traditional Diamond without a hefty price tag. It's very easy to choose a 1.5, 2, or even 3 carat Moissanite if one so chooses -- and one can do so at a fraction of the cost of investing in a traditional Diamond.
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