What’s the difference between moissanite and diamond? You might recognize moissanite as an alternative to diamonds, thanks to its pretty sparkle and white color. In this article, we’ll compare moissanite and diamond side by side, taking a closer look at a variety of factors including hardness, fire, color, clarity, and of course, value.
While moissanite is relatively new to the world of jewelry, this rare mineral was discovered in 1893. It is named after French chemist Henri Moissan, who discovered it mixed into mineral samples taken from a meteor crater located in Arizona’s Canyon Diablo. At first, Moissan thought the crystals he found were diamonds. It wasn’t until 1904 that he correctly identified them as silicon carbide. Interestingly, synthetic silicon carbide was first created in a lab run by Edward G. Acheson in 1902, two years before Moissan identified it in its natural form!
Natural moissanite was thought to come from meteorite craters alone until 1958, when it was discovered in Wyoming’s Green River Formation. In 1959, workers at a Yakutia diamond mine found natural moissanite in the form of inclusions in kimberlite. Natural moissanite crystals have also been discovered along the Kishon River in northern Israel. Today, geologists know that moissanite occurs as natural inclusions in xenoliths, diamonds, and ultramafic rocks including lamproite and kimberlite. Carbonaceous chondrite meteorites can also contain moissanite, explaining why it is found in some meteorite craters.
Because natural moissanite is quite rare, the moissanite used in jewelry is synthetic. Charles & Colvard introduced synthetic moissanite jewelry to the market in 1998, after receiving patents to create and market their beautiful lab-grown gemstones. The patent has expired, and today, more manufacturers are bringing moissanite jewelry onto the market.
Even though moissanite isn’t identical to diamond, it does offer close similarities, particularly when studied with the naked eye: no wonder Henri Moissan thought he had the real thing! As a diamond alternative, moissanite offers the following characteristics.
If you study moissanite vs. diamond side by side, you’ll notice that moissanite has the interesting ability to produce the appearance of doubled facet junctions. This effect produces more colorful flashes or “fire” than a diamond of the same size and cut.
Diamonds have a hardness score of 10 on the Mohs scale, making them more durable than moissanite. Still, moissanite is up there among the hardest of all substances, and it’s tough enough for use as a replacement for a diamond in a variety of industrial settings as well as in high-pressure experiments. Moissanite is harder than other popular gemstones including emeralds, rubies, and sapphires, so it’s well-suited to jewelry designed for everyday wear.
Like diamonds, synthetic moissanite comes in a variety of colors that range all the way from colorless to black.
Moissanite clarity is usually close to flawless, while most natural diamonds on the market have imperfections.
Like diamonds, moissanite is available in a variety of shapes and sizes. It is usually measured in millimeters rather than in carats.
If you guessed that natural diamonds are more valuable than moissanite, you’re correct. Even though moissanite is a beautiful alternative to natural diamonds, the real thing is worth far more. As faux diamonds go, though, moissanite is among the best.
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