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Moissanite is a gemstone that is quickly becoming one of the most popular diamond alternatives, especially for engagement jewelry. If there’s one thing I’ve noticed in my years making jewelry, however, it’s that jewelry is extremely personal. What’s right for some people may not be right for others. While many people still view it as a fake diamond (spoiler alert: it’s not!) moissanite’s clarity, durability, and affordability all lend to its popularity. That being said, moissanite does come with its own set of problems. Below I’ll walk you through some of the most common problems with moissanite.
Bottom Line Up Front
Moissanite does come with some problems, some of the most obvious being off colors and the “disco ball effect” of artificial brilliance. Many of moissanite’s perceived problems, however, seem to stem from the fact that moissanite is not a diamond. When it comes to engagement jewelry, there is still a lot of social pressure to buy a diamond, and a lot of the problems with moissanite seem to stem from whether or not it can pass as such. Ultimately there are pros and cons to any gemstone which should always be taken into consideration when making a purchase.
What is moissanite?
Moissanite is a gemstone that originated from space dust. Affectionately known as “Space Diamonds,” it was first discovered in 1893 by scientist Henri Moissan. Moissanite is composed of silicon carbide and was found in a meteorite that hit Arizona. Since then, other natural deposits have been found, but in extremely limited supply. Natural moissanite is very rare and it is nearly impossible to find pieces large enough to cut for jewelry. For those reasons, pretty much all moissanite found today is grown in labs.
Is moissanite a fake diamond?
Moissanite is not a fake diamond. It is a unique gemstone with properties that are all its own. That being said, due to its clarity, brilliance, and durability, moissanite is often used as an alternative option to diamonds in jewelry. Moissanite is considerably more rare than diamonds, but it is significantly less expensive.
What does moissanite look like?
Moissanite is a clear, colorless gemstone that is known for its brilliance and fire. Brilliance is the white flashes that a gemstone gives off when held under direct light, while fire refers to the colorful flashes. Moissanite is the fieriest gemstone and gives off more fire than even diamonds.
Moissanite is graded on the same color scale as diamonds and can range from “colorless” (D-F) to “near-colorless” (G-I) to “slightly tinted” (J-K). While Diamonds are graded on the “four C’s” of cut, clarity, color, and carat, moissanites are only graded on color.
A note about comparing moissanite and diamonds
Moissanites are usually measured in millimeters rather than carats. This is because they weigh less than diamonds. Some retailers will list the carat equivalent of a similar-sized diamond at their point of sale.
Some alternatives to moissanite include:
Common Moissanite Problems
Perhaps the most common problem with moissanite is the off colors present in the stone. Technology has come a long way, but it still isn’t possible to create completely colorless moissanite. Most moissanites have a yellow, green, or gray tint to them, especially older “classic moissanites.” Newer moissanites, like the Forever One moissanite produced by Charles and Colvard are nearly colorless, but may still have slight tints of warm colors that are visible when the stone is viewed in natural light.
Artificial Looking Brilliance
Moissanite is actually known to sparkle more than a diamond, but for some people, that’s not a good thing! When viewed in direct light, moissanite gives off much more of what’s known as “fire.” Fire refers to the colorful flashes given off due to light dispersion. Diamonds give off mostly white flashes, also known as brilliance, with a lesser amount of fire. While some people might want an extremely sparkly ring, others will see the rainbow flashes as an artificial-looking brilliance.
The fire of moissanites is even sometimes referred to as “the disco ball effect.” This becomes more pronounced as the stones get larger. If you are considering buying moissanite and are concerned about the rainbow flashes, it is probably best to stick with a smaller stone. Fire is more apparent when a stone is viewed under direct light and can be more visible under natural light. For those reasons, make sure to view your moissanite under different lighting conditions, including natural light, whenever possible before making a purchase.
Moissanites are double refractive, which some people claim will give the inside of the stone a blurry effect. This isn’t as much of an issue as it sounds, however, as long as the stones are cut in the proper direction. Moissanites can be cut so that the double refraction is not visible to the naked eye, and can only be spotted when viewing the stone at an angle with a 10X loupe. As long as your moissanite comes from a reliable source, your moissanite should be cut properly.
Lack of Color Options
It may seem counterintuitive since we’ve just spent so much time going over the desirability of clear, colorless stones without an inordinate amount of rainbow dispersion, but one of the downsides of moissanite is the lack of color options for the stone. While there is a range of colored diamonds, known as “fancy diamonds” on the market (albeit some of which carry a hefty price tag,) there are fewer options for colored moissanite.
While merchants such as Brilliant Earth will sometimes offer green, yellow, or blue moissanite, the stock is rare and options are limited. If a colored stone is what you’re looking for, you may be better off going with another gemstone. Find some recommendations here.
Finally, while most will consider it a positive thing, it is nearly impossible to find moissanite with inclusions visible to the naked eye. To some people, fewer imperfections and inclusions are equivalent to less personality. Because moissanite is grown in a controlled lab setting, it is engineered to be as perfect as possible.
Inclusions will exist within the stone, as with all gemstones, but it is extremely rare to find moissanite on the market with inclusions that are visible to the naked eye. While this is generally seen as a good thing, there are a lot of really stunning diamonds on the market that are unique and interesting due to their natural inclusions. Take these from Midwinter Co, for example.
While moissanite is still considerably less expensive than a diamond (ranging from 50-10% of the cost of a similarly sized diamond,) it remains less affordable than other alternatives. White sapphire, for example, is significantly cheaper, as are less popular alternatives such as morganite and especially cubic zirconia.
No Heirloom Value
Moissanite also doesn’t have any real heirloom value. Diamonds and other precious gemstones aren’t necessarily a sound investment – they all tend to depreciate in value as soon as they’re purchased, losing as much as half of their value as soon as they’re sold, unlike gold which can actually appreciate. More “traditional” gemstones are, however, often seen as heirlooms, and can be handed down to loved ones. That’s not to say a piece of moissanite jewelry, especially something like an engagement ring that marks a significant life event, doesn’t have personal sentimental value.
May Prompt Uncomfortable Conversations
The significant cost difference between moissanite and diamonds might actually cause some aggravation as well. Because larger moissanite stones are considerably more affordable than similarly-sized diamonds, they could elicit unwanted questions from nosy friends and family members. It then becomes up to the owner of the jewelry whether to disclose that the gemstone is a much more affordable moissanite or let their loved ones (or not-so-loved ones) think that they spent a fortune on a diamond!
Manufacturing and Care
While it may actually be a bonus for some people, the fact that all commercially sold moissanite is lab-grown can be a problem for others. On one hand, lab-grown stones are more eco-friendly and ethical than traditionally mined stones, especially diamonds, on the other, some people may find the idea of a lab-grown stone feels “artificial” to them.
No Lab Report
Many lab-created diamonds come with a GIA certificate of authenticity. Moissanite does not generally come with a lab report, though Charles and Colvard offer a warranty with all of their loose moissanites and moissanite jewelry.
Jewelers May Refuse to Reset It
Some jewelers refuse to work on moissanite or any synthetic stones for that matter. Though this isn’t an issue for everyone, and probably isn’t a make-or-break decision for most people (unless you’re SUPER loyal to your local jeweler,) it’s something worth being aware of.
New to the Market
Since moissanite is still relatively new (it’s only been used in jewelry since the 1990s) the stone hasn’t been “road tested” the way diamonds have been. Although moissanite’s properties display similar durability to diamonds, and there’s no reason to believe they won’t last as long, only time will tell for sure. On the other hand, there are diamonds that date back hundreds of years and maintain their brilliance.
Occasionally you’ll see reference to what’s known as the “oil slick” effect on moissanite. This is a greasy build up on the outside of the stone and is sometimes a product of the manufacturing process of moissanite. Luckily, it’s pretty easily removed with a gentle polishing cloth (soap and water alone may not work.) In reality, moissanite actually repels dirt better than a diamond.
It seems that one of the biggest problems with moissanite is the cultural stigma of it not being a diamond. While the monopoly the diamond industry has on engagement jewelry is pretty much exclusively the product of a clever marketing campaign combined with manufactured scarcity to drive up prices, there are still many people who feel that diamonds are the most (or only!) appropriate gemstone for an engagement ring. Ultimately it’s a personal decision and up to you to decide whether or not that matters.
Pros and Cons of Moissanite
- Moissanite comes from space. How cool is that?!
- Moissanite is cheaper than diamonds
- Moissanite is grown in a lab, and it more ethical and environmentally friendly than traditional mined diamonds
- Moissanite may be tinted slightly yellow, green, or gray
- Moissanite exhibits what is often considered artificial looking brilliance
- Moissanite is more expensive than other diamond alternatives
Answer: No, moissanite is a completely different gemstone with unique properties and a different chemical composition than a diamond. Moissanite is, however, often used as an alternative to diamonds in jewelry.
Answer: Moissanite is made of silicon carbide, while diamonds are made of carbon. While they are both durable, brilliant, colorless stones, they have similar but not the same properties. Moissanites tend to have green, gray, or yellow tints to them and be sparklier, whereas diamonds are more likely to be completely colorless and have less fire.
Answer: A moissanite is not a lab-created diamond. It is a completely different stone from a diamond, though almost all moissanite sold today are created in a lab.
Answer: Although moissanite does occur naturally in meteorites and deposits in the Earth’s crust, almost all of the moissanite that is sold commercially today is grown in labs.
Answer: Moissanite is absolutely not tacky. They are beautiful, sparkly stones made of space dust that are almost as durable as diamonds, and have the added benefit of being eco-friendly as well!
Answer: Moissanite occurs naturally in meteorites and in the Earth’s crust, though it is extremely rare, so virtually all of the moissanite used in jewelry is grown in a lab.
Answer: Moissanite is not a precious gemstone. Generally speaking, the only precious gemstones are diamonds, emeralds, rubies, and sapphires. These four stones were classified as precious (vs other semi-precious stones) in the 1800s due to their rarity, beauty, and durability, but there is no official scientifically-backed criteria designating them as such, and the list of qualifying stones has not been updated since then.
Answer: That depends on who you ask! Moissanites are even more brilliant and sparkly than diamonds, and nearly as durable, but they don’t have the same reputation as a diamond. For some people, moissanite is just as good (or even better!) than a diamond, for others diamonds will always be the best.
Answer: Although moissanite is considerably less expensive than a diamond, it is still much more expensive than other diamond alternatives. This is due to its durability, brilliance, and the fact that while it is lab-grown, it does take several months to produce.
Answer: People do sometimes try to pass off less durable and less expensive stones, (see the list above for moissanite alternatives) as moissanite. Some jewelers such as Forever Moissanite have begun issuing certificates of authenticity with their moissanite in order to put their customers’ minds at ease.
Answer: Moissanite is extremely durable and with proper care, it should last for generations to come!
Although there are a number of common problems associated with moissanite, the root of all of those problems seems to be the fact that a moissanite is not a diamond. Ultimately it’s up to you to decide whether that matters, whether you’re looking to pass your moissanite off as a diamond or appreciate it as the beautiful, unique gemstone it is.