Moissanite – An Overview
Moissanite is a rare mineral first discovered in 1893 by a French scientist Henri Moissan in a fiery meteor. Because natural moissanite is incredibly scarce, it has been grown in laboratories out of the substance called silicon carbide, and it is scientifically designed to be highly similar to diamonds. After many years of research, moissanite was eventually introduced to the jewelry market in 1998 and is regarded as diamond simulate because of its superior hardness and brilliance surpassing even a diamond.
On the Mohs Scale of Hardness, which assesses a gem’s ability to withstand surface scratching, moissanite scores 9.25 – just below the hardness of diamond, which is 10. Moissanites are also less likely than most gemstones to be damaged by heat (for example, during a jewelry repair process) and they can survive the extreme temperatures of house fires better than diamonds.
Brilliance is a gemstone’s ability to reflect light and create sparkle. Moissanite exhibits a different kind of brilliance than diamonds do, as the faceting pattern is different. On the Refractive Index (RI), which scientifically measures brilliance in gemstones, moissanite has a 2.65 to 2.69 RI, making it 10% more brilliant than diamonds.
Moissanite is comparable to a VS grade diamond (“ very slight inclusions”). Moissanite stones are rated VVS2-VS2 (“very, very slightly included” to “very slightly included”). Minute inclusions in the crystal structure of moissanite are difficult to see under magnifications and are invisible to the naked eye. The high clarity results in consistent, superior brilliance.
All moissanite is near-colorless. It is not graded on the GIA diamond color grading scale, because the extra fire and brilliance of moissanite makes it appear much whiter than a diamond of the same color, and the combination of moissanite’s high refractive index and excellent clarity and cut results in a jewel with superior brilliance.
All moissanite is cut to exact proportions with excellent polish and symmetry, which results in superior fire (light dispersion). Round, cushion and oval are the most popular cuts for moissanite, because they look the most brilliant, fiery and whitest.
Fire (or dispersion) refers to the ability of a gemstone to reflect light into different spectrums, which appears as flashes of rainbow colors. Moissanite casts 2.4 times more fire than diamonds, creating a superior sparkle.