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Moissanite Information

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Moissanite History and Information
Moissanite is a mineral "from the stars."  It was first discovered in fragments of the meteorite at Diablo Canyon or Meteor Crater in Arizona. It was named in honor of its discover Nobel Prize winner, Dr. Ferdinand Henri Moissan. Synthetic moissanite is also known as silicon carbide after its chemistry and by the trade name, carborundum. In the meteoritic material, moissanite is associated with tiny diamonds. Ironically moissanite is the trade name being used for new synthetic SiC gemstones.

Moissanite grown in laboratories is now being cut as gemstones and they are used as diamond simulants. Moissanite brings to the jeweler's table a similar index of refraction and better than twice the fire of diamond, but is only slightly less expensive due to the difficulty in growing the crystals. Moissanite is causing quite a stir in the jewelry markets.

As a diamond simulant, artificial moissanite is very hard to differentiate from diamond and can fool many gemologists. It does have many similarities. It is very hard at 9.25 (diamond is 10) and it is highly refractive with an index of refraction of 2.6 - 2.7 (diamond's IR is slightly lower at 2.42). Most important, moissanite and diamond are thermally conductive unlike other diamond simulants and unfortunately it is this property that is used as the test for the authenticity of real diamonds.  A jeweler must have a special moissanite tester to determine the immediate differnce between the two.  However there are other tests that can be used to differentiate the two.

Moissanite is hexagonal, not isometric and therefore it is doubly refractive unlike diamond. A close look at moissanite gemstones should show double facet edges whereas diamond's cut edges are singular in appearance. Moissanite is also slightly less dense than diamond and is rarely perfectly clear of color, having pale shades of green. Also natural flaws are absent in moissanite replaced instead by tiny, unnatural, white, ribbon-like structures that are a result of the growing process. The synthetic SiC known as carborundum has seen many uses in hightech ceramics, electrical components, abrasives, ball bearings, semi-conductors, extremely hard saws and armor.

Natural moissanite is very rare and is limited to iron-nickel meteorites and a few other rare ultra-mafic igneous occurences. Initially there were skeptics to the original meteorite findings and were attributed to the silicon carbide blades that may have been used to saw the type specimens. But this has been disputed because Dr Henri Moissan did not use silicon carbide blades to prepare the samples.

There are several phases of SiC. The original mineral discovered is officially known as moissanite-6H. The (6H) refers to the hexagonal symmetry of this phase of moissanite. There are two other phases recognized as minerals: moissanite-5H and the isometric phase beta-moissanite.

Moissanite is classified as an element dispite the fact it is a compound! The reason for this is the elemental bonds that exist between carbon and silicon are very similar to the carbon-carbon bonds of other elemental minerals such as diamond. There is also no other mineral class that moissanite could fit in better than the Native Elements Class! Moissanite in fact is sometimes placed into the Carbon Group which includes diamond and graphite. Additional justification lies in the structure of moissanite which is similar to the structure of diamond. Other chemically unusual Elements Class minerals that are found in meteorites include osbornite {TiN}, cohenite {Fe3C} and schreibersite {(Fe, Ni)3P}.

How do I care for my moissanite?
Like it was a diamond!  Moissanite is a beautiful created gemstone, please care for your quality investment as if it were a diamond. Warm soapy water and a soft cloth will bring your treasured pieces back to their original shine and brilliance!  A mild jewelry cleaner helps remove any debris trapped under the gem (preventing its sparkle).  It is always a good idea to have your jewelry cleaned periodically by a professional to remove any build-up (hand soaps,  lotions, or make-up).  And to have your gems and jewelry checked by your jeweler.   Heat tests do prove that at up to 2000 degress F, moissanite remains in tact and brilliant.  It is less likely to experience heat damage during jewelry repair and can be steam cleaned if it has not been chipped or abraided, remember all jewelry is precious and not indestructible.


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