Moissanite Origin & Formation
Little is known about the mineral moissanite, except that it makes a beautiful and tough gemstone. Less is known about its origins and formation. So, we want to rectify that! Below is some of the information we gathered regarding the formation and discovery of moissanite.
Fun fact, moissanite was not discovered in an underground mine somewhere. Instead, this mineral was first discovered in the late 1800s, within a crater in Arizona. Moreover, this crater was created by a meteor.
Who founded moissanite, and how did it get its name?
The person responsible for the discovery was Henri Moissan (otherwise known as, Doctor Moissan), a French chemist. It was not named moissanite (after Moissan, obviously) until about ten years after its discovery.
At first, Moissan merely identified it as naturally occurring silicon carbide (SiC). This is fascinating because, just two years prior, synthetic silicon carbide had been created for industrial purposes.
Once it was discovered that there were other uses for this simulated diamond, and that it was formed from SiC, it was given its name moissanite.
Is (natural) moissanite rare?
Although this gemstone is not as common as, say, diamonds or rubies. It’s actually so rare, that the very first natural moissanite jewelry did not even hit the market for public consumption until the late 1990s. Moreover, because meteors do not make craters here on earth every day. So, the supply from which moissanite is derived is rather limited. However, when a source is found, experts diligently work to ensure maximum extraction, and that it’s of high-quality.
What is Synthetic Moissanite Made Of?
Synthetic moissanite, or simulated diamonds, are made from the same silicon carbide that makes up its natural counterpart. It was never difficult to synthesize, but at first, and for many years, it was just created for industrial purposes. Due to the first batches of simulated diamonds being not visually attractive. Despite its lack of visual appeal, its hardness and strength made it highly durable and useful for all types of industries.
Synthetic Moissanite Formation vs. Natural Diamond Formation
Believe it or not, diamonds do not form from coal. That is a misconception that has been around for ages. Coal almost never plays any part in a diamond formation. Without being too technical, the reason is that coal develops within different layers of the earth, and they form in different directions. That goes on to say, there’s actually more than one method of natural diamond formation.
Synthetic moissanite, or simulated diamonds, however, are formed in labs. Though the silicon carbide (silicone) from which it derives is a naturally harvested compound, the creation of simulated diamonds must be closely monitored and helped along by a team of experts.
Moreover, it is often made from the thermal decomposition of the methylsilane. We know, that’s a bunch of technical jargon. Basically, what it means is that it’s formed using high thermal temperatures. Temperatures are so high, in fact, there is no metal powder needed to bind this simulated diamond.
How is Synthetic Moissanite Valued?
We’ve probably said this before, but the value of stones (of any kind) depends on many factors. First, are you wanting loose moissanite? This gem in a loose-stone form will have a different price range, and you’ll need to compare the prices and ranges for those alone. And, certainly, whether you need a simulated diamond for jewelry or for industrial purposes, that will determine how much you pay for what it is you need. Do you have questions?
For those who are looking for jewelry with preset stones already set in them, the price could vary greatly. For example, are you looking for an emerald cut moissanite bracelet or necklace? Do you need a moissanite wedding ring or band? Are you seeking a simple moissanite solitaire engagement ring?
As with any other gemstone, the number of gemstones in jewelry you’re seeking will make a big difference in the price. Furthermore, the setting in which the simulated diamond is placed or arranged will likely alter the price. Moreover, carat size is definitely another big factor in the price. Again, as with other gemstones, you will likely get better price deals on smaller moissanite stones.
With all this being said, it does not mean that we cannot give you a rough guesstimate in regard to the pricing of moissanite! It is often used as a substitute for natural and lab diamonds because it is nearly as strong and resistant to breakage and damage.
How much can I save purchasing moissanite vs. diamonds?
While natural moissanite is very rare, one of the reasons why people choose moissanite over diamonds is because of the price. We found that you can typically find between a 10-15% price difference between synthetic moissanite stones and natural diamonds (on average).
Of course, you may need to factor in where and how you buy moissanite. Many retailers, both brick-and-mortar and online stores offer this alternative. We recommend making sure it is GIA or IGI certified before purchasing.
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