There’s a question we get quite often: is moissanite a fake diamond or a real diamond? The simple answer to this question is that moissanite is not a fake diamond or a real diamond. Instead, it’s a completely unique gemstone in its own right that can be naturally occurring or lab-grown.
The reason people often wonder if moissanite is a diamond is because it looks very much like a diamond. Like a diamond, moissanite is transparent, clear, and highly brilliant. Because of this, moissanite gemstones are often used in similar types of jewelry as diamonds. For example, recently, moissanite gemstones have become a popular diamond alternative for engagement rings.
While moissanite gemstones have similarities to diamonds, again, they are gemstones in their own right. To help you understand what makes the beautiful, brilliant moissanite gemstone unique, below, we’re going over some key moissanite information. We’ll go over the history of moissanite, the characteristics of moissanite, and some moissanite FAQs.
The Discovery and History of Moissanite
Modern day people aren’t the only ones who confuse moissanite gems for diamonds. The scientist who discovered moissanite thought the same thing.
Sometimes called Stardust or Space Diamond, moissanite is a gemstone that was born from the stars. Some 50,000 years ago, a meteorite crashed in Arizona, leaving a handful of crystal fragments in its wake. In 1893, the French scientist Henri Moissan was inspecting the meteor crater when he discovered tiny particles of sparkly moissanite. At first, he believed these radiant stones were diamonds. However, he would soon discover that they were not diamonds at all, but an entirely new gemstone made from silicon carbide.
The gemstone discovered by Moissan was later named in his honor. And so the gemstone we know as moissanite was born.
Since its discovery by Moissan, a few more deposits of moissanite have been found in meteorites and a small number of upper mantle rocks. To this day, natural moissanite is very rare and hard to find. But after many years of trial and error, the particles Moissan discovered were successfully synthesized to produce lab-grown moissanite. This lab-grown gem is the stunning, highly brilliant gemstone that is used in the vast majority of moissanite jewelry.
The Characteristics of Moissanite
Chemically, moissanite is absolutely different from a diamond. It is made of a different substance, silicon carbide, so it has a different chemical structure. However, in terms of physical properties and appearance, moissanite is very similar to a diamond. Moissanite has a 9.5 ranking on the Mohs Scale of Hardness, very close to the diamond’s 10 ranking, making it a good choice for everyday wear. Then, optically, many would say that moissanite even out-performs a diamond!
Moissanite is a transparent gemstone with a very high refractive index, even higher than that of a diamond. Essentially, this higher refraction means that moissanite is more brilliant and fiery than a diamond.
In lower carat weight gemstones, the difference in the shimmer of diamonds and moissanite gems is fairly negligible. Most people won’t know the difference between a moissanite and a diamond. Unless you have the two side by side, under proper light, and you’re dealing with an extremely keen observer (or perhaps a jeweler), they won’t know any better. In higher carat weight stones, the difference is more noticeable, but would still be quite hard for the average person to spot. Really, even at higher carat weights, the only distinguishable difference to the naked eye is that moissanite has more rainbow sparkles.
Moissanite vs. Diamond FAQ
Q: How do moissanite prices compare to diamond prices?
A: Since the moissanite used in jewelry is generally lab-grown, it’s always more affordable per carat than a natural diamond. Moissanite has a much lower price point, usually costing around 90% less than a diamond!
Q: Is moissanite a diamond alternative or a diamond simulant?
A: Moissanite could be accurately described as a diamond alternative, since people do often choose moissanite as an alternative to a diamond center stone. Technically, moissanite is also a diamond simulant. A diamond simulant is a material that looks like a diamond, but is not a diamond. Common examples of diamond simulants include cubic zirconia and rhinestones. Note, however, that a moissanite stone is still not a fake diamond. It is simply a gemstone that looks like a diamond.
Q: Are moissanites conflict-free?
A: Yes, the moissanites used in jewelry today are lab-grown, so they are always conflict-free!
Q: Are moissanites good for everyday wear in an engagement ring or wedding ring?
A: Yes! Moissanite gemstones have a high durability and a hardness rating of 9.5, making them a great choice for everyday wear in rings.
Final Thoughts on Moissanite vs. Diamonds
Gleaming, gorgeous, durable, and affordable, the moissanite engagement ring is a stunning alternative to the traditional diamond engagement ring. So, if you’re dead set on the clear traditional look of the diamond but don’t want to compromise on beauty, quality, or finances… then Moissanite might just be the stone for you!
Learn more about the unique qualities of the moissanite in the following dedicated article: The Unique Qualities of Moissanite