Moissanite rings? How many people actually wear those, and are they worth it? The truth is moissanite rings are becoming increasingly popular. The reasons for that are numerous – they are much cheaper than diamond rings, they are as beautiful as diamond rings, and the production process is much more ethical.
However, how did we get here – when exactly did moissanite rings enter the market and the trend list? It certainly did not happen overnight – moissanite rings were not a thing until the last 1990s. So how did the moissanite turn from a mineral that was thought to be a diamond at first to the currently most trending type of gemstone for rings? Let’s find out.
What is Moissanite?
Before we dive into this shiny story, what is moissanite exactly? It is a gemstone, very similar to a diamond in terms of physical characteristics. In fact, on the Mohs scale of mineral hardness, moissanite scores almost as high as diamond. Diamonds take the top spot with the maximum score of 10, but moissanite follows very close by with a strong score of 9.5. Most gemstones do not even get to 9 on this scale.
Moissanite is also a bit shinier than diamond and is mostly colorless. It can be found though in yellow, brown, green, or blue hues which makes it a compelling sight. The shiny aspect of moissanite is a matter of taste – some people prefer diamonds, but others do not mind some extra colors flashing on the surface of their gemstone ring.
In comparison to diamonds, moissanite is a newcomer to the jewelry industry. Diamonds were discovered millennia ago, and they have been part of human trade, craftsmanship, and jewelry ever since.
Moissanite, on the other hand, was discovered only at the end of the 19th century by French scientist Henri Moissan – hence the name of the mineral. It was initially thought to be a diamond, and the discovery did not get much attention, but some years later, it was properly distinguished. And moissanite did not really become a true part of the jewelry industry until the end of the next century.
A Rare Beauty
It is impossible to talk about the processes of moissanite becoming popular without addressing its origins. The mineral is actually incredibly scarce on Earth – to the point where it is almost impossible to find it. The sample that Henri Moissan found in 1893 was actually from a chunk of space rock – a meteorite. This made the production of any sort of jewelry – or anything for that matter – involving moissanite a futile task.
Enter lab-grown gemstones: certain technological advancements were made in the gemstone industry that allowed for the latter to be grown in laboratories. The discovery and the experiments for a long time were kept a secret, but it was inevitable that eventually, the practices used by various laboratories around the world were revealed, and the technology quickly spread.
The technology was initially used to create synthetic diamonds, and it involved two main types of creation methods: exposure to high heat and high pressure (basically replicating the natural process of diamond formation) and exposure to carbon gasses that would then ionize and merge with an already-existing piece of diamond.
Moissanite’s Time to Shine
Yes, thanks to these technological advancements, moissanite’s time to shine were right around the corner. Eventually, scientists shifted their focus to other gemstones, and what better option than moissanite – it had a strong resemblance to a diamond, it was almost as strong as a diamond, and it fits very well into the tastes in the jewelry business.
That is how in the 1980s, the first lab-grown moissanite was born.
It is important to note here that even though moissanite looks very much like a diamond, the chemical compositions of the two minerals are quite different. Diamonds are made of carbon, and moissanite is made of silicon carbide.
A Slow Start
However, the lab creation process was not perfect, and it took some time to actually create moissanite that would be a good fit for jewelry. The initial moissanite chunks were too large for aesthetic purposes. Eventually, though, in 1995, a specialized team managed to synthesize the first jewelry-fit moissanite, and ever since, the gemstone has been growing its popularity, mainly as an alternative to the diamond.
The cost to produce moissanite is mind-blowingly smaller than that of the diamond. If you take a look at engagement ring prices of diamond rings and moissanite rings – the moissanite rings are no less than 10 times cheaper. That is certainly not a trivial difference, and it played a big role in the moissanite’s rise to fame.
Nowadays, Moissanite is used primarily on engagement rings, watches, necklaces, and other jewelry. However, saying that aesthetics is the only application for moissanite would do it an injustice. Moissanite, similar to diamonds, is used in the automobile industry in stone cutting, it is applied in grinding and polishing tools, and much more.
After all, moissanite is the second hardest mineral on Earth. In modern times, its popularity in engagement rings has grown remarkably, with even celebrities turning to moissanite rather than diamond. It is not hard to imagine why: moissanite is a significantly cheaper option than a diamond, and it also is very environmentally friendly. The carbon footprint of growing a moissanite in a lab is significantly smaller than mining a diamond. Diamond mining is related to a plethora of questionable practices, such as digging deep underground, using hard labor to excavate the mineral, using machinery, and polluting not only the air but also the earth surrounding the excavation site; it damages nearby crops, flora, and fauna, it can even disrupt the whole local ecosystem. That is why environmentally conscious people turn to moissanite all the more often.
And yes, a moissanite ring can be ordered online, customized, created in a laboratory, and shipped to your location in a matter of weeks. Moissanite rings have never been so accessible, and they are certainly here to stay.