Moissanite is a naturally-occurring silicon carbide that you can obtain from beneath the Earth’s surface in a manner that is similar to mining diamonds. It is relatively rare to obtain, first discovered by Henri Moissan in 1893 and named after him. The optical properties, thermal conductivity, and hardness make it useful for various industrial and commercial applications. It is sometimes used as a replacement for diamonds as well.
Because of the unique rareness of moissanite, laboratory efforts to synthesize it began in the early 20th century. Until the 1950s, no other source for this substance had been encountered except for meteorites which impacted the surface of our planet. Questions of its terrestrial formation lingered until 1986 as it has only been discovered in a few rocks, occurring naturally as inclusions in lamproite, kimberlite, xenoliths, and diamonds.
It was first introduced to the jewelry market in 1998 after Charles and Colvard received patents to create and market silicon carbide gemstones that were made in laboratories. It now serves as an alternative to diamonds, with some stones featuring better clarity.
List of the Pros of Moissanite
1. Most people cannot tell the difference between moissanite and diamonds.
When you are shopping for a wedding ring or fine jewelry while on a budget, then moissanite is a popular alternative. Because of its optical clarity, no one would know the difference between the two stones if they looked at the ring. Even a close-up inspection is unable to tell unless an experienced jeweler or laboratory technician was looking at the stone with measurement equipment. Because it offers incredible brilliance at a discounted price, it is worth considering.
2. It offers exceptional durability.
When moissanite is measured on the Mohs Scale of Hardness, it rates as a 9.25 out of 10. That means the only thing harder than it is a diamond. That means this gemstone option is suitable for every day wear. It will not break or scratch easily, and the sparkle which it offers stays brilliant with similar care and cleaning options. That is why it is such a viable alternative if you are looking for something other than diamonds.
3. You will receive an impressive sparkle with moissanite.
People love diamonds because the brilliance and shine of the gemstone creates a unique sparkle that few other stones can replicate. Moissanite does offer more of a rainbow sparkle compared to a diamond because of how it refracts light when it hits the surface. Diamonds tend to emit a colorless sparkle or flashes of light instead, although a high-grade one can sometimes cast-off rainbows as well. This advantage means that both options provide beauty, so it more comes down to your personal choice.
The high refractive index of moissanite means that you will receive more sparkle than that of the average diamond. It provides a flashy ring that you will love.
4. Moissanite can be cut in the same sizes and shapes as diamonds.
You will find moissanite available in the same series of shapes and cuts that jewelry makers use for diamonds. The most popular shape for this gemstone is the round cut because it offers the most twinkle and shine while appearing mostly white. If you like the idea of showing off a large stone that people will think is a diamond, then this advantage means you can make that happen. Only you will now it is moissanite instead.
5. The cost advantage is almost too good to be true.
The price of a moissanite stone is about 10% of what you would pay for a diamond of similar cut and clarity. If you were to purchase a 1-carat colorless moissanite ring in 2018, then the gemstone would cost approximately $600. If you opted for a diamond instead, you would pay about $5,000. The price of moissanite depends on its overall size and possible enhancements. Some stones go through a clarification process to make them whiter since it naturally offers a yellow tint.
6. You will receive a guaranteed level of clarity when choosing moissanite.
Moissanite gemstones are never sold unless the clarity grade is VS or higher. That rating means that the stone has no visible flaws to it after examination. You can purchase diamonds which have visible flaws that you can see when looking at the stone – and probably still pay more for it than you would for the moissanite.
These gemstones do not lose their brilliance over time either. They will not grow cloudy as some of the other jewelry options on the market. You will want to ensure that you purchase a durable setting, using platinum or gold, to help your jewelry last. Sterling silver with gold or platinum plating should be avoided because it does not have enough strength.
7. Moissanite does not have the same ethical considerations to evaluate.
Because moissanite is so rare, there are zero mining efforts underway to obtain this gemstone in its natural environment. All of it grows in the carefully controlled conditions of a laboratory environment. That means you do not need to worry about any unfair labor practices, human trafficking, warfare, or the other human rights issues that revolve around the world of diamonds. They even have a better carbon footprint compared to their traditional counterparts, which is why they are such a tempting purchase.
8. It works well in a variety of settings.
You can wear moissanite in the same settings that you would use with diamonds, which is why it is such a versatile gemstone. They can look stunning as a pair of stud earrings, offer beauty in a solitaire setting for an engagement or wedding band, or create a fantastic look with modern necklace designs. You can easily make any piece shine brighter when you include this rare gemstone as part of your collection.
List of the Cons of Moissanite
1. Moissanite might look like a diamond, but looks don’t change the composition of it.
Diamonds are the traditional gift to offer for a wedding, anniversary, or similar special event. Society looks at these gemstones as the ultimate symbol of love between two significant others. That means a substitute stone might not hold the same weight for its representation when compared to the real thing. You can save a lot of money by choosing moissanite over diamonds, but some people may not think that it is a worthy substitute.
2. Diamonds offer a unique white sparkle that moissanite cannot replicate.
Because the clarity of moissanite is superior to that of most diamonds, you always receive a rainbow sparkle with this gemstone. When you choose a diamond instead, then you will receive a stunning white sparkle that its counterpart cannot offer. You can also choose different colors of diamonds to create unique hues and twinkles that show off your personal style. Because there is a subtle shift in how light refracts through the stone, people who know their diamonds will immediately confront you if you try to pass moissanite off as the real deal.
3. Moissanite does not offer the same heirloom quality.
When you own diamond jewelry, then you are handing down something which offers value as an heirloom. Moissanite does not retain its value at all. The only thing that you will receive if you inherit or give a moissanite item to someone is sentimentality. Although diamonds do not retain their overall value well, anything containing them will certainly have more long-term worth than a laboratory-grown stone.
4. There might still be a tint to the moissanite after the clarification process.
You will find that most moissanite stones have more of a warm tone to them even after they go through the whitening process. The goal is to give them an equivalency to near-colorless diamonds, but it is not always achieved. Some people report that they can see green and yellow hues when looking into their gemstones. Enhancement is your best option to avoid this disadvantage for stones over a carat, but it is not a guarantee that you will receive a jewelry item that meets or exceeds your expectations.
5. Some people will assume your stone is a diamond – and make comments.
Because a moissanite and a diamond look very similar, it is not unusual for people to make comments about the cost and size of your jewelry. Because there is such a tremendous price difference between these two items, these observations can leave you in an uncomfortable situation. Do you tell them that it is an alternative gemstone and that you didn’t pay as much as they are thinking? Or is it better to let them assume you spent a fortune on the piece?
6. There are some jewelers who may not work on your item if you need a reset.
Because a moissanite is not a diamond, you may find that there are some jewelers who will not work on your piece if you want to reset the stone. A few may even refuse to make adjustments to the size of the ring or offer cleaning services because it isn’t a product that they typically offer. This disadvantage does not come up very often for most owners, but you could find it to be problematic if something happens to your piece in the future.
7. Many of the claims offered about moissanite are relatively untested.
We know that the cut and clarity of diamonds can last for more than century. Some diamonds continue to hold their sparkle and shine for several hundred years. We know that the 35-carat Beau Sancy diamond is at least 400 years old. The Florentine shows documentation dating to 1657 of its ownership. When you compare these gemstones to moissanite, there is maybe 20 years of jewelry history for this diamond alternative. Experts believe through testing that no changes to the clarity and color of the stone will happen, but we do not have everyday use and handling information to verify that theory as of yet.
The pros and cons of moissanite are more about how much you can save when opting for this gemstone when shopping for jewelry. Because the price is about 10% of what the typical diamond would cost, it is a viable alternative for couples who are on a budget. It will even look and feel like the real thing when you wear it. If you can manage the disadvantages listed above, then consider this rare item to be an excellent purchase.
Natalie Regoli, Esq. is the author of this post and the editor-in-chief of our blog. She received her B.A. in Economics from the University of Washington and her Masters in Law from The University of Texas School of Law. In addition to being a seasoned writer, Natalie has almost two decades of experience as a lawyer and banker. If you would like to reach out to contact Natalie, then go here to send her a message.