What is Moissanite?
Moissanite-chemically known as silicon carbide-was discovered more than 100 years ago in 1893 by a Nobel-Prize winning scientist named Henri Moissan. He studied the fragmented particles taken from an Arizona meteor crater believed to have been carried to Earth in a meteorite 50,000 years ago in trace amounts. He soon realized the brilliance and fire that shimmered from this new mineral which lead George Kunz, a respected professional with expertise in gemology from Tiffany & Co., to name the new jewel "moissanite" in honor of Dr. Moissan in 1905.
Now, through the combination of advanced technology and proprietary processes, moissanite is carefully created by Charles & Colvard. The jewel is acclaimed for its exceptional brilliance and dispersion (fire) – properties that in moissanite exceed most popular gemstones and are greater than diamond’s. Moissanite is also harder than ruby, sapphire and other popular gemstones and second in hardness only to diamond.
Why is moissanite so popular?
Brilliance and Fire
Moissanite’s characteristic sparkle is more than just a show of beauty-it’s also a testament to the superior science behind the jewel. Moissanite is known for its high refractive index of 2.65, greater even than the refractive index of diamond at 2.42. There is a correlation between a jewel’s refractive index and its brilliance. Simplified, the higher the refractive index, the more brilliance the jewel emits. In other words, moissanite’s brilliance outrivals diamonds’s. What’s more, moissanite’s fire of 0.104 is more than twice that of diamond (0.044). This means that moissanite emits more fire, or flashes of rainbow colored light than diamond. With more brilliance and fire than that of diamond or any popular jewel, moissanite is truly impressive.
Moissanite’s brilliance outshines every jewel, yet its exceptional durability should not be overlooked. Durability is commonly described to consist of both hardness and toughness; however, a third component of durability is stability. Hardness refers to the jewel’s resistance to being scratched or abraded and is commonly expressed as a number ranking (1 being the softest and 10 being the hardest) on Mohs relative hardness scale. Therefore, if you were to compare hardness between gemstones, a jewel can only be scratched or abraded by a material that has the same hardness or a higher Mohs hardness.
Although diamond is the hardest substance known to mankind, ranked as 10 on Mohs, moissanite is the second hardest jewel known to man, at 9.25. Moissanite’s ability to resist abrasion out ranks many popular colored gemstones and is second only to diamond.
The ability of a jewel to remain intact, withstand force (pressure) and resist breaking or chipping is known as toughness. Determined by a substance’s atomic and chemical structure, toughness can vary directionally within a jewel or gemstone. While both moissanite and diamond are rated excellent in toughness, moissanite has a different atomic and chemical structure than diamond. Moissanite’s atomic structre does not have a direction of cleavage (which sometimes is considered as a direction of structural weakness) like diamond does. Simply said, moissanite outranks diamond in overall toughness.
Stability is a material’s ability to remain intact or withstand exposure to temperature and chemicals. Moissanite can easily withstand temperature variations during the jewelry manufacturing process and reparies at the jeweler’s bench. In fact, moissanite has a higher vaporization temperature than diamond and can withstand temperatures reaching 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit. Moissanite is also very stable when exposed to various chemicals typically used during both manufacturing and jewelry repair. Moissanite remains impervious to solutions and acids typically used with jewelry manufacturing liquids that commonly damage other less stable jewels such as tanzanite or emerald. With excellent hardness and superior toughness, moissanite is more durable than diamond and an optimal choice for a jewel that will truly endure.