Diamonds may be the go-to option when purchasing a new ring, however they aren't the only gemstone option for those wanting a simple stone with maximum impact. A newcomer to jewellery design, moissanites are the affordable, laboratory-grown alternative to diamonds rising in prominence as a go-to choice for those shopping for a staple ring. But, just what are moissanites and what are they made of? We break down the ins and outs of the gem and how it differs from a diamond.
What are moissanite stones?
Moissanites were first discovered in 1893 by Henri Moissan, a French scientist who went on to win the Nobel Prize for Chemistry. He discovered the particles of the gem that would become his namesake in a crater left by a meteorite that fell to Earth in the United States. Initially thinking he had found diamonds, Moissan later determined the crystals were composed of silicon carbide.
The stone is an alternative to diamonds, often coming at a lower price yet aren’t as accessible at every jeweller. Natural moissanites are very rare, so the moissanites available to shop for jewellery are created in a laboratory.
How are moissanite stones sourced?
As moissanites are lab-grown, they aren’t sourced from mines meaning they are an eco-conscious alternative for those wanting their jewellery to come from a considered, sustainable source. To create a moissanite, scientists employ a combination of pressure and heat to craft the crystals from silicon and carbon, identical in structure to the composition of a natural moissanite. The process is a complex matrix of design, taking up to three months to create a single gem.
Is their appearance different to diamonds?
The brilliance of moissanites vary from that of diamonds due to their faceting pattern being different, with it known the larger the moissanite, the more prominent the visible difference to diamonds. The refractive index of a moissanite ranges from 2.65-2.69, higher than that of a natural diamond. Diamonds reflect light in three ways: the white light reflecting back to the stone is referred to as brilliance, while the rainbow colours refracted is the dispersion alongside the scintillation of the diamond, known as their surface sparkle. Through this combination, diamonds achieve their natural glow.
Moissanites also differ to diamonds on colour, and while they are categorised as colourless stones, they can still project a yellow or grey hue dependent on lighting. A colourless diamond has a natural body colour containing no traces of yellow, meaning the appearance is a starker, white sparkle.
Are moissanites more affordable than diamonds?
The most obvious difference between moissanites and diamonds is the price, with the lab-grown stone dramatically more affordable than diamonds of the same size and cut. Simply put, a moissanite is roughly one-tenth the piece of a mined diamond of the same quality. The price of moissanites typically only vary based on the size of the stone and whether it is premium or super premium grade. If you are searching for a large, white gemstone yet may not have the funds for a diamond, a moissanite is the best alternative.
Are diamonds or moissanites more durable?
Despite diamonds being known for their durability – they are the hardest known mineral and can withstand almost all forms of wear and tear – moissanites are still a durable alternative to the gem. Behind diamonds, they are the second hardest stone on the Mohs Scale of Mineral Hardness, ranking up to 9.5/10 in strength. Only diamonds rank higher, with a perfect 10/10 listing.