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What Is Moissanite?

Moissanite is a rare mineral first discovered in a meteorite


Henry Moissan, 1900

Henri Moissan, 1900

Photo © Buyenlarge/Getty Images
Moissanite is a rare mineral that was discovered in 1893 by Dr. Henri Moissan, a French chemist. The Nobel Prize winner was the first to find tiny amounts of this natural silicon carbide within a meteorite.

Hardness of Moissanite

Moissanite has a hardness of 9.25 on the Mohs scale, compared to 10 for diamond, which is the earth's hardest substance. It immediately became obvious to those who saw moissanite that it would be popular in jewelry, but naturally occurring pieces of the gemstone are too small and scarce to make that possible.

Synthetic Moissanite Is Introduced

Synthetic moissanite can be grown in labs, but some gemologists do not feel that current synthetic versions used in jewelry are identical to true moissanite.

Testing for Moissanite

Some jewelers cannot tell the difference between the colorless moissanite being sold today and a colorless diamond, so there's concern that fraudulent or inaccurate 'diamond' sales could take place, especially if an owner is not informed and resells the jewelry believing it is set with a diamond. If a jeweler can't differentiate between the two gems, how can a consumer be expected to tell the difference?

Lab instruments are available to help jewelers detect synthetic moissanite and other types of stones that are often fraudulently or unknowingly represented as diamonds.

Buy jewelry made from what's sold as synthetic moissanite because you love it, not because of the marketing hype. Ask the seller as many questions as it takes to make you feel comfortable with your purchase and always conduct business with a reputable jeweler who can tell you exactly what you are purchasing.

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