Today a smart shopper has many options to consider when looking for a perfect engagement ring. The Lab-Created Revolution has forever changed the stranglehold the mined diamond industry has long held on consumer choice. Now, couples can choose between traditional mined diamonds, and several good alternatives; Grown Diamonds, which are real diamonds, exactly the same as what comes out of the earth, Diamond Replicas, which are engineered crystals that near exactly duplicate the look and durability of diamonds, and finally, Moissanite, which is a beautiful stone and a good alternative, but has a different look than a diamond.
What is Moissanite?
Moissanite is a manufactured crystal made, almost exclusively, by a company named Cree, Inc. It's composed of the compound silicon carbide (SiC), which is also used in LED light bulbs. Cree, Inc. is a leader in the manufacture of LED light bulbs, as well as other products.
Silicon carbide can be grown into large crystals that can then be cut into gemstones. A company called Charles & Colvard has the exclusive patent and right to use silicon carbide as a gemstone material. All moissanite jewelry legally sold in the U.S., regardless of who's doing the selling, comes from Charles & Colvard. There are foreign companies that are illegally importing "knock-offs" of moissanite and these are wrongfully being sold through various websites.
A Short History of Moissanite
Moissanite in mineral form was first noted by French geologist Henri Moissan while examining rock samples from near a meteor crater in Arizona. This lead to many sellers of moissanite jewelry to later falsely claim that moissanite "Comes from the Stars". In reality, the naturally occurring mineral form of moissanite is found in several rock formations around the world, such as the Green River Formation in Wyoming, but it is not found as crystals suitable for use as gemstones. All moissanite crystals used as jewelry in the U.S. are manufactured by Cree, Inc.
Moissanite as a Unique Jewel
Moissanite is at its best when considered as a separate and different jewelry option from diamonds. Moissanite has several very attractive attributes as a jewel; it’s very hard and durable, and it will last a lifetime. It will stand up to a lot of heat, so a careless jeweler will not be able to damage it with a jewelers torch (as they easily can with rubies, emeralds and cheap diamond replacements like CZ’s).
The truly beautiful thing about moissanite gems through, is the stone’s radiance and brilliance. Moissanite has over double the radiance of diamonds, so they appear much more “sparkly” They reflect many more colors of the rainbow than diamond or any other jewel. They blaze with multiple colors and a lot of flash.
However, this much greater radiance does make them look different from a diamond.
Moissanite is quite affordable, it’s typically priced at between $300 and $400 a carat. (if you see it for less than this it may very possibly be a fake).
Also, as they are a manufactured gemstone, they do not have any of the environmental or ethical problems of mined diamonds.
Moissanite as a Diamond Replacement
There are many visual differences that are easy clues that a moissanite is not a diamond. In addition to being much more sparkly, moissanite has a different crystal structure from diamond, resulting in something called "birefringence" which is how light is bent as it passes through the stone. Diamonds are "single refractive" and moissanite is "double refractive" which gives it a different look. Further, moissanite is generally a somewhat grey or green color, which can be very noticeable in sunlight, although Charles & Colvard has recently introduced a product called Forever Brilliant® which improves the color problem somewhat.
Here is a chart of the complete technical differences between Moissanite vs. Diamond:
Will People Know Your Moissanite Engagement Ring is not a Diamond?
If they see your moissanite engagement ring by itself, with nothing to compare it with, they will probably not know the difference. If they look at it side by side with a diamond ring, or if they know a lot about diamonds and gems they likely will. An experienced jeweler, for instance, can often spot a moissanite across a room.
Another problem is that if you choose a ring with side stones, often those stones will be diamonds, and then the moissanite center stone will not match. This is because many jewelers buy engagement rings that are "semi-set" which means the ring is made and the small stones are set at the jewelry factory, and then the customer buys the center stone separately and the jeweler sets it. If the customer chooses a moissanite center stone, and the semi-set sides are diamond, it won't match.
Best Source for Moissanite Jewelry
If you choose moissanite for your engagement ring, our custom jewelry center, The Nexus Design Studio, can make any style of jewelry you can imagine and set it with moissanite stones which we will source from Charles & Colvard.
Or, if you wish to buy directly from the source, Charles & Colvard sells directly to the public from their website Moissanite.com.
They are a good and reputable company and sells quality fine jewelry. Additionally, when buying from them you will know that the moissanite has not been imported illegally and the side stones will match the center stone.
Final Thoughts on Moissanite vs. Diamond and Moissanite as an Engagement Ring
If you want an engagement ring that is beautiful, durable, ethical, and costs less than a mined diamond, and you don't care that it does not look exactly like a diamond, moissanite is a great choice.
If you want an affordable real diamond ring that is also green and ethical, Pure Carbon Created Diamonds which cost 40-50% less than identical mined diamonds, should be considered, or, if you are comfortable with a ring that looks and wears near exactly the same as a diamond, but costs 80% less, you may want to consider a Diamond Replica.
For reference, here's a price comparison between diamond replica's, lab-created diamonds, and mined diamonds.