Although a diamond may be a traditional choice for an engagement ring, some couple’s will consider a popular and more affordable alternative: moissanite. It can bear a striking resemblance to a diamond and is a beautifully brilliant jewel in its own right.
A Unique Jewel
Discovered in a meteor crater in the late 1800’s by Henri Moissan, silicon carbide crystals have become an important part of the jewelry industry today. Initially, moissanite found in nature was too small to be used in jewelry. It wasn’t until 1995 that is was finally able to be recreated into larger crystals in a laboratory. This gained the attention of jewelers worldwide and today moissanite is a popular man-made gemstone with its own unique and beautiful qualities.
Moissanite and Diamonds: Similar, Yet Distinctly Different
Diamonds and moissanite are two uniquely different and beautiful jewels. They are both are sparkly, durable and generally colorless, with the exception of potential yellow, green or grey hues. However, there are some important distinctions. From a cost standpoint, the most significant difference is price, with moissanite being substantially more affordable. Both stones are very brilliant, but moissanite has a higher brilliance than that of a diamond when comparing the refractive index (moissanite’s RI is 2.65-2.69 vs. a diamond having an RI of 2.24). Also notably different is their chemical makeup. Moissanite is composed of silicon carbide and diamond’s composition are that of carbon.
As with all gemstones, moissanite has its own unique advantages and disadvantages:
- Approximately one eighth the cost of a diamond (particularly when compared with a diamond of similar quality).
- May appear optically identical to a diamond to the untrained eye
- More fire and brilliance than a diamond (higher refractive index).
- More durable than many other diamond alternatives such as cubic zirconia, glass, quartz or crystal. Moissanite is a 9.25 on the MOHs hardness scale, with a diamond being 10.
- Graded as near colorless, like many diamonds on the market.
- Hand-cut like a diamond to best showcase the stone’s beauty
- Better able to withstand dirt, oils and other substances than cubic zirconia
- 100% conflict-free–not a product of war and child labor.
- Not always perfectly colorless and may have a slight green, grey or yellow undertone (particularly as the stone size increases or in more fancy shapes).
- Less durable than a diamond (MOHS of 9.25)
- Considered not traditional or “real” by diamond connoisseurs
- Moissanite in the highest quality ranges can be expensive
- Excess fire and higher refractive index may make it look less like a diamond
Tips on Buying Moissanite
- Moissanite is not a diamond and should not be passed off as a diamond. Ensure the bride-to-be views the stone prior to purchase.
- View moissanite in different lighting situations, as it can make a significant difference in the stone’s appearance. It can look very white under LED lighting in a store.
- The larger the stone, the more of the possibility for green or yellow undertones and looking less like a diamond. Try to keep it 1 carat or under and in a round brilliant shape if you want to have closely resemble a diamond.
- Moissanite is graded differently than a diamond. Prices are based primarily on size.
- If buying online, take special note of the return policy in case the stone has more color than you prefer.
- Only purchase from reputable companies if looking for “enhanced” moissanite (a coating that can tone down the green or yellow hues).
- Moissanite retailers include Charles & Colvard Moissanite, Moissanite Fine Jewelry, Joseph Schubach Jewelers Moissanite & Diamond and Moissanite Co.
There are many things to consider when deciding on purchasing moissanite. Many women have found it to be a beautiful and affordable alternative to diamonds. Some may have the notion that because it is created in a lab it is not real, and this is a common misconception. Moissanite is a stunning gemstone in its own right and offers a a wonderful option as an increasingly popular engagement ring stone.
Photos courtesy of GIA, Charles & Colvard, and Moissanite & Diamond.com