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[Beauty for Life] Moissanite, the Best Alternative for Diamonds

Updated: Sep 1



s a stone born from stars, moissanite (silicon carbide) was first discovered on a meteorite from Canyon Diablo, located in Arizona, USA. The mineral was then named after the Nobel Prize winning chemist Ferdinand Frederick Henri Moissan. Despite the tremendous effort scientists have put onto synthetic moissanite for both technological or gemmological use, it wasn’t until the late 90s that controlled growth of the crystal was made possible.


Moissanite vs Diamond

Near-colourless moissanite looks very much like diamonds. Unlike other diamond alternatives, it resembles diamonds in a wide range of physical properties.









Diamond is known to be the one of the hardest naturally occurring material on earth so far, with a hardness index of 10. With a Mohs’ hardness index of 9.25, moissanite comes as second. With a higher refractive index of 2.65-2.70, you basically can get a stone that is shinier and  more sparkly than diamond. And because it is cultured in a laboratory, you can easily obtain a much larger stone for jewelry making purpose, with a much cheaper price tag, as compared to diamonds.


Since both diamonds and moissanites have similar thermal conductivity, even a diamond tester (thermal conductivity detector) would be fooled and fail to differentiate the two at most cases.

Check out these videos on YouTube to see the difference between a real diamond and moissanite.




Moissanite is more eco-friendly than diamonds.

Natural diamond mining could be associated with a lot of problems. Not only the activity will exploit a large area of the natural environment, it is also commonly linked to what is commonly addressed as the “blood diamond issue” (slave labor in developing countries used to mine diamonds). Since moissanites are cultured, synthetic gemstones, it could possibly be a preferred alternative if you prefer eco-friendly jewelries without sacrificing the shine and the bling.


Other Diamond Alternatives

There are a number of diamond alternatives on the market other than moissanite, including synthetic diamonds, white sapphire, white topaz, and cubic zirconia.


Synthetic diamonds are made by using a small piece of natural diamond as the ‘seed’, and let it grow in size by providing it with the suitable condition and raw material. Man-made diamonds are cheaper than natural diamond and is basically the exact same as the real thing both physically and chemically speaking. However, since it still requires a small piece of natural diamond, it could still be more expensive than other diamond alternatives. Besides, it still holds the environmental concerns that all natural diamonds have.


When we mention sapphire, most of us will immediately picture a piece of sparkly blue gorgeousness which is also from the precious gemstone family. Although white sapphire could be slightly cheaper than a diamond of similar size, keep in mind that there are some significant differences between the two minerals. Appearance wise, sapphires are less sparkly and has less scintillation when compared to diamonds. Considering most people go for diamond because of its brilliance, fire and scintillation, a white sapphire might not be the best alternative if one is going after the bling. Not to mention that sapphire still is pretty pricey since it is after all still a precious stone.


White topaz is a lot cheaper than diamond since it is a semi-precious stone that is readily available. Again, with a refractive index of 1.64, topaz is a lot less sparkly than diamond. Topaz is also a lot less durable than diamonds which makes it much more easily scratched and damaged, especially with repeat polishing.


Like moissanite, cubic zirconia on the market is usually synthetic, which means it is rather easy to obtain completely clear stones as compared to natural diamonds where the colour could vary from stone to stone. With a hardness of 8.5 and refractive index of 2.176, cubic zirconia is a lot less sparkly when compared to both diamonds and moissanites. Although cubic zirconia is less durable and less attractive to the eyeball, it is indeed cheaper than all of the diamond alternatives mentioned about, if budget is a big concern for you but still you would like to have a sparkly brilliance on your finger.


Conclusion

If you are looking for a good diamond alternative, I find moissanite to be the best on the current market. It highly resembles diamond in appearance and in a lot of physical properties. It comes closest to real diamonds when compared to other available alternatives on the market. The fact that moissanite is more eco-friendly than diamonds is a huge bonus if you prefer a greener, cleaner gemstone.


References:
  1. Hecht; Eugene and Zajac; Alfred. (1974). Optics 4th. Pearson Higher Education.. ISBN: 0321188780

  2. Nassau, K., McClure, S. F., Elen, S., & Shigley, J. E. (1997). Synthetic moissanite: A new diamond substitute. Gems & Gemology, 33(4), 260-275.

  3. Nassau, K. (2000). Synthetic moissanite: A new man-made jewel. CURRENT SCIENCE-BANGALORE-, 79(11), 1572-1577.

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