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15 Things to Know About Moissanite Before You Buy

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Moissanite is one of those few gemstones that people often talk about in relation to diamonds. However, not many people know what moissanite is. Is it just a low-cost diamond imitation or a lab grown diamond? Or is it a special type of gemstone that stands on its own and is worth considering when you’re buying jewelry? We’ll be answering these and many more commonly asked questions about moissanite in this article.

1. What is moissanite?

Moissanite engagement ring

Natural moissanite is an extremely rare gemstone discovered in 1893 by the French Nobel Prize-winning chemist Henri Moissan. The scientist discovered several pieces of a then-unknown gemstone in a meteor’s crater. At first, he thought they were just diamonds. 11 years later, however, he realized his mistake when he found out that these gemstones were made out of silicon carbide and not of carbon like diamonds. Later, he got his Nobel Prize for successfully isolating fluorine from its compound – research that was completely independent of his gemstone discovery.

Ever since then, this special type of silicon carbide has been known as Moissanite. There’s been only one problem, however – natural moissanite is incredibly rare and expensive. That’s why, virtually every moissanite stone jewelers sell is lab grown moissanite.

See more moissanite stones on Brilliant Earth.  

2. Is moissanite “real” or lab grown?

Both.

The moissanite Henri Moissan discovered over a century ago was very much natural but the moissanite we see in jewelry shops today is lab grown. Don’t think that this belittles lab grown moissanite, however – its chemical and physical compound is identical to that of its rare natural counterparts.

Just like lab grown diamonds are identical to natural diamonds, lab grown moissanite is as real as natural moissanite. The only difference is that while natural moissanite is ridiculously rare, its lab grown variant is easily accessible and therefore much more affordable.

3. How much does moissanite cost?

Moissanite is several times more affordable than natural diamonds and more or less on par with lab grown diamonds. The reason for moissanite’s lower cost is the same as that of lab grown diamonds’– they are much easier to grow and refine than the long, laborious, and cost-ineffective process of mining and refining natural diamonds.

That’s why moissanite is usually mentioned in the same breath as lab grown diamonds as an affordable alternative to natural diamonds. It has most of the same qualities as diamonds, it doesn’t have any significant drawbacks, and it’s much lighter on the wallet.

4. Does moissanite sparkle?

Yes, it does.

Moissanite may be visually similar to diamonds but it has a much higher Refractive Index at 2.65 (diamonds’ is 2.42). This is what causes moissanite’s exceptional sparkle and fire. Fire, in the jewelry world, is the term for “colorful sparkle” while “sparkle” usually refers to its brilliance. And while moissanite’s sparkle is similar to that of a diamond, its fire is much more intense.

5. Does moissanite scratch or break easily?

Not at all.

Granted, moissanite is a bit softer than diamonds – while the latter is the hardest mineral on Earth with a 10/10 grade on the Mohs hardness scale, moissanite sits at a comfortable 9.25 out of 10. This makes it the second toughest gemstone used in jewelry, ranking ahead of even sapphire and ruby, which sit at 9 on the Mohs scale.

So, yes, moissanite is softer than diamonds and therefore scratches more than a diamond but that isn’t saying much – everything scratches more easily than a diamond.

The 9/10 grade is usually viewed as “the bar” for determining the best jewelry gemstones as anything at and above 9 is viewed as the hardest and best possible jewelry gemstones.

6. What is the difference between moissanite and diamonds?

The two main differences between moissanite and diamonds are the fire and hardness of the two gemstones. Moissanite beats diamonds in terms of its stronger fire while diamonds trump moissanite with its durability. And while the hardness is largely insignificant, the fire difference is mostly subjective – some people like the colorful fire of moissanite while others prefer the clean sparkle of diamonds.

Aside from these two differences, the only other thing worth mentioning is that moissanite lacks many of the inclusions, blemishes, and other flaws of natural diamonds, simply because it’s lab grown. Lab grown diamonds also lack these inclusions so they’re similar to moissanite in that regard.

7. Is moissanite a good alternative to diamonds?

Most people say that it is.

Moissanite has many of the same properties as diamonds and is largely indistinguishable from them to the naked and/or untrained eye.

And that to moissanite’s lower cost (similar to that of lab grown diamonds) and this unique gemstone is definitely a great alternative to diamonds.

The main way in which moissanite can be viewed as a “bad alternative” to a natural diamond is if you’re interested in the prestige and collector’s value of the gemstone. Because moissanite is lab grown, it doesn’t have the same rarity-driven collector’s value that rare natural diamonds do. The same applies to lab grown diamonds.

Also, if you don’t like the look of colorful flashes, especially visible on larger moissanite stones, then this might not be the right choice for you.

8. How can you tell the difference between moissanite and a diamond?

Moissanite’s stronger fire is the main thing that makes it visibly different from diamonds. However, you really need to know what you’re looking for if you’re to tell the difference between a moissanite’s fire and a diamond’s fire. After all, some diamonds have very strong fire as well.

So, if you’re not sure, it’s usually best to refer to a professional’s opinion. Every jeweler worth their salt should be able to tell moissanite from a diamond with 10x magnification. Plus, just like lab grown diamonds, moissanite stones have a lab’s minuscule identification number at the bottom to identify the stone’s origins.

That being said, you shouldn’t need to judge the gemstone yourself anyway – any diamond or moissanite you purchase should be accompanied by a certificate from a reputable lab anyway. For Moissanite, we’d recommend Charles & Colvard’s certificate of authenticity while for diamonds you can trust various certificates such as the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) and the American Gem Society (AGS) for natural diamonds or the Gem Certification & Assurance Lab (GCAL) and the International Gemological Institute (IGI) for lab grown diamonds.

9. How long does moissanite last?

Thanks to its high hardness (9.25/10) moissanite is a very durable and long-lasting gemstone. It’s slightly softer than diamonds so it will need some extra care to avoid scratches but – barring any accidents – your moissanite stone should easily last for decades or even more.

10. Is moissanite a good choice for engagement and wedding jewelry?

Given its excellent quality, gorgeous look, high durability, and long life, moissanite is definitely a great choice for engagement and wedding jewelry. It doesn’t have the same societal “prestige” as natural diamonds but in every other regard, it’s as good of a choice for wedding jewelry as natural or lab grown diamonds.

In fact, an argument can be made that moissanite’s uniqueness makes it an even more special choice for such jewelry. And a little extra fire is also a good thing, metaphorically-speaking.

11. How to take care of moissanite?

The process of taking care of a moissanite stone is very similar to caring for a diamond, sapphire, or a ruby. Store moissanite separately – more for the sake of other metals and gemstones than for the moissanite itself. While only a diamond can scratch moissanite, moissanite can scratch most other items because its harder.

As far as cleaning is concerned, a soft piece of cloth or a soft-bristled brush should do the trick with some lukewarm water and a mild dishsoap. Regular cleaning is important to prevent the buildup of dust and dirt as those can lightly scratch and wear out the stone over time.

Aside from that, an annual routine check-up with your jeweler is also recommended to make sure everything is as it should be.

12. Is moissanite worth it?

Whether you want a moissanite stone for everyday jewelry, for wedding or engagement rings, or for special occasional jewelry, moissanite can be an excellent choice. Considering its lower price, it can be worth the money spent.

However, in terms of monetary value,  moissanite doesn’t really have good resale value as it’s still a new gemstone. In general, you can get back around 50% of what you spent on your moissanite. This is similar to the resale value of diamonds.

Another point to note is that if you’re looking for something with a unique collector’s value as moissanite is lab grown and doesn’t have the prestige.

13. Does moissanite make for good heirloom jewelry?

Moissanite has both the looks and the longevity to be a part of your family for generations. The answer to whether or not moissanite is a good choice for heirloom jewelry comes down to your personal preferences, and whether you think a lab-created stone is right for you.

14. Can moissanite be resized, re-set, or repaired?

Yes, moissanite’s hardness, durability, and stability allow it to be easily resized and repaired. Plus, it has a very high heat resistance with means that it’s unlikely to suffer any unintentional damage during the jewelry repair process.

15. Is moissanite an ethical choice?

Because moissanite is lab-created, it’s more sustainable than mined gemstones. Natural gemstones are mined at tremendous cost to the environment and to ecosystems. Moissanite is grown in a lab under sustainable conditions. The moissanite industry doesn’t fund wars, exploit human labor or destroy the environment. So yes, it’s an ethical choice.