What is Moissanite?
The Birth Of Moissanite
Moissanite is a gemstone born from the stars. It was first discovered in 1893 by a French scientist named Henri Moissan, who later won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry. He discovered microscopic particles of the gem that would eventually bear his name in Arizona, in a crater created by a meteorite that fell to Earth. He initially thought that he had discovered diamonds, but later determined that the crystals were composed of silicon carbide.
Natural moissanite is incredibly rare, so moissanite available today is laboratory-created. After many years of trial and error, the particles Moissan discovered were successfully synthesized to produce what is now one of the world’s most scintillating gemstones.
Advantages Of Moissanite
Moissanite is engineered to give the illusion of similarity to diamonds, but is compositionally and visually quite different from a real diamond. The durability, brilliance, and color of the two gems are quite distinct.
While moissanite has a very similar appearance to diamonds, they have many key differences. Moissanite weighs much less than diamonds – 15% lighter, to be exact. Because of this, moissanite is usually sold by length and width in millimeters rather than carat weight. A moissanite stone that is visually equivalent in size to a 1 carat diamond will not actually weigh 1 carat. Moissanite is also sold based on different standards than diamonds. Moissanite is sold based on size and color (colorless or near colorless) while diamonds are priced based on their 4 C’s as well as many other factors.
Diamonds are slightly harder than moissanite. Moissanite ranks 9.25 on the Mohs scale, while diamonds rank 10 on the Mohs scale. While diamonds are slightly harder, moissanite has more fire and brilliance. Moissanite has a refractive index of 2.65-2.69, while diamonds have a refractive index of 2.42. The refractive index is the stone’s ability to bend light. Moissanite’s fire is rated at 0.104, while the fire of a diamond is rated at 0.044.
Moissanite is much less expensive than diamonds. Moissanite can be about $400 to $600 per carat while a one carat diamond can be anywhere between $2,000 to $20,000.
Here is where the biggest difference comes into play.
Thical Issues Of Diamond
Diamonds (especially naturally mined diamonds) are highly unethical.
Aside from the price inflation, which is an ethical problem in and of itself, the process of natural diamond mining is damaging to the environment.
There’s ecological devastation in parts of Africa due only to diamond mining, and it’s entirely avoidable with better mining practices.
The diamond industry allegedly still employs child labor, as well as forced labor. Laborers are underpaid, if paid at all, and are often pushed into unsafe work conditions with little (if any) protective gear.
The diamond mines helped to fund warlords across mine zones, creating space and funding for civil wars, violence, and other atrocities only for the benefit of western gem buyers.
The term “blood diamonds” is no joke.
While there are efforts made now for “responsible diamond mining”, there are no guarantees of this responsibility and there are still human rights infringements on workers.
Lab-created diamonds are definitely an ethical way to shop for diamonds but the cost is still very high.
Moissanite has no such ethical issues. They’re almost never mined, but when they have been mined in the past, they came largely from meteorites.
There is no warlord money involved in the extraction of moissanite, and there is zero environmental impact (beyond that of any other business venture).
They are a completely ethical gem choice, both for human rights and environmental concerns.
both moissanites and diamonds are great choices for an engagement ring. It really just depends which one better suits your values, your style, your budget, and your needs. There is no right or wrong answer here, so go with the stone option that you feel is calling to you. Don’t let anyone else’s opinion cloud your judgement about what is a “right” or “wrong” engagement ring choice because at the end of the day, you are the person who is going to be wearing your ring and so your opinion should be the one that matters most of all.