by Angela Tague
The fire and luster of a moissanite ring is undeniable. The brilliant gems are known for their sparkle and shine and are sometimes mistaken for diamonds. Used in a variety of jewelry, including rings, earrings, and necklaces, moissanite is a fabulous and affordable diamond alternative that stands on its own as a unique gemstone.
Overview: Most moissanite jewelry features man-made gems. Authentic natural stones are extremely rare and usually not large enough to be used in jewelry. Lab-grown moissanite -- the chemical composition is silicon carbide -- is often more beautiful than natural moissanite because the gems are created by a patented thermal process to exhibit the finest qualities of the stones. Moissanite jewels rate high on the Mohs scale of mineral hardness, with a 9.25 measurement. This means they are a bit softer than diamonds, but harder than all other mineral-based gemstones; overall, they are very durable.
History: Moissanite was discovered in an Arizona meteor crater by a French scientist, Dr. Henri Moissan, in 1893. Since then moissanite has been found in a small variety of places, particularly near meteor sites in the American Southwest. Moissanite is commonly found as an inclusion in diamonds and other stones. It has been used as a cutting material due to its hardness and similarity to diamonds.
Appearance: Moissanite is one of the colorless gemstones and is clear in appearance, although, some of the stones can be a very faint yellow with a green tint. The gems are described as brilliant, and with the ability to catch and reflect light, moissanite crystals are often used in fine jewelry pieces.
Comparison: With more scientifically tested brilliance, fire, and luster than a diamond, it's not surprising that moissanite is a popular option for fine jewelry. The brilliance, the flashes of white light called sparkle, is measured by a stone's refractive index (RI), and moissanite has an RI of 2.65-2.69. By comparison, a diamond's RI is 2.42. Moissanite is more brilliant than rubies, sapphires, and emeralds, too.
Jewelry: Moissanite is commonly set in white gold or platinum but looks great combined with a variety of metals and stones. Jewelers often place the gems in solitaire settings that showcase the sparkle; look for moissanite stud earrings and solitaire pendants. Moissanite rings are becoming popular as engagement rings. These bridal rings offer a large, beautiful center stone that costs much less than the diamond equivalent. Many rings have an eye-catching combination of diamonds and moissanite gems.