Moissanite is one of the best alternatives to diamonds and boasts many of the same attributes, but does it occur naturally anywhere in the world?
Moissanite was first discovered in a meteor crater, and it took decades before more naturally occurring moissanite was found on Earth. It does occur naturally, but it’s rare, and most moissanite gemstones on the market will be lab-grown variants.
Read on to learn more about moissanite, how it was discovered, and why it’s the best alternative to diamonds.
Making The Most Of Moissanite
If you don’t have the upfront capital to invest in a luxurious and expensive diamond ring, a moissanite ring is the next best thing. It’s true that there’s overwhelming popularity where diamonds are concerned, but moissanite cannot be discounted by any means.
When Henri Moissan was digging around in an Arizona meteor crater in 1893, he thought he’d discovered a source of diamonds. However, it took him ten years to learn that what he’d actually uncovered was a never-before-seen gemstone, which was thereafter named moissanite.
He’d discovered a gemstone made of silicon carbide, a material also known as carborundum – very similar to corundum, the mineral that makes up rubies and sapphires. This silicon carbide, when it occurs naturally in the wild, is now known universally as moissanite.
Following his discovery, Henri Moissan worked on methods that could be used to synthesize moissanite. He experimented with the dissolution of carbon within a vat of molten silicon, and for his efforts, he earned the Nobel Prize in Chemistry.
Today, although minute deposits of moissanite have been found, they’re extremely rare and often yield very small amounts of silicon carbide. However, the mineral does occur naturally, and it has been found in places like Israel and of course, Arizona.
While it’s an extremely rare thing to find on Earth, silicon carbide is reportedly common all throughout space, and it’ll almost always be found within meteors. As a direct result of its rarity, almost every moissanite stone you’ll see on the market was made in a lab environment.
Ultimately, it takes very little time to grow a moissanite crystal or gemstone, and the end result is the same as a naturally occurring one. It makes moissanite a very inexpensive alternative to naturally occurring diamonds, and it’s still a fantastic gemstone in its own right.
For example, moissanite boasts a substantial refractive index, meaning it reflects light in a unique and beautiful way, just like a diamond. Also, it’s the closest thing to a diamond in terms of overall toughness, so it’s almost as durable as the toughest material known to man!
A Remarkable Alternative
If you were to put a fine diamond and a cut, polished and prepared moissanite gemstone side by side, you’d barely be able to tell the difference. Both of these stones can be cut in the same way, and once they’re set in a ring, they’re almost identical.
While you can get lab-grown diamonds, the majority of the diamonds used in jewelry are naturally-occurring. However, owing to the sheer rarity of naturally-occurring moissanite, you’ll never find anything but a lab-grown stone in your jewelry.
The price differences between moissanite and diamonds can be mind-blowing, with a moissanite alternative being several times more affordable than a diamond.
For example, if you were to purchase a one-carat diamond, you could expect to pay around three to four thousand dollars. Moissanite, on the other hand, would cost around eight to nine hundred dollars for a similar-sized stone.
Also, a one-carat diamond would be a little smaller than a moissanite gemstone of the same weight, owing to the diamond having a higher density. Therefore, you not only save money, but you’ll potentially end up with a bigger stone if you go down the moissanite route.
If there’s one drawback to moissanite, it’s that there are very few examples that are as crystal clear as a fine diamond. While they’re remarkably similar, a moissanite stone can have a little discoloration, taking on slight yellow or even green hues.
There are moissanite manufacturers, such as Charles & Colvard, the leading name in the United States, which claim to create totally pure moissanite stones. However, even these examples aren’t totally transparent or clear.
That being said, if you are in the market for a moissanite gemstone, Charles & Colvard is an extremely good place to start. Further to that point, we’ve published an article explaining where else in the United States you can purchase moissanite gemstones.