Monday, July 11, 2011

Born from a Meteor, and Flashier than a Diamond - that’s Moissanite



I love custom requests from my customers because they quite often lead me in a direction I might not have gone otherwise.  I”m pretty firm on  using only ethically mined natural stones without additional treatments and dyes in my jewelry.  Because of that, I pay very little attention to anything created in a lab, and had never heard of Moissanite until my customer requested it.  It does occur in nature, but so rarely, and in such small amounts that it has never been available for jewelry in its natural form. 

Meteor Crater-2Moissanite was first discovered by Henri Moissan when he was looking at rock samples he had collected from Meteor Crater in Diablo, Arizona back in 1893.  He thought they were diamonds at first, but a few years later, he identified the crystals as silicon carbide.  (Years later, the mineral was renamed Moissanite in honor of Henri’s discovery).

The mineral was controversial for a long time, and many believed it was carborundum contamination from abrasive tools, and until the 1950’s it had never been found anywhere other than a meteorite.  In the late 50’s it was found as inclusions in kimberlite.  Moissanite is very rare, and has now been identified as inclusions in diamonds, kimberlite and lamproite in addition to meteorites.

In 1998, the company Charles and Colvard created a proprietary process to create moissanite in a lab, and it now regarded as an excellent diamond substitute, with optical properties and light refraction that actually exceed those of diamond.   I can vouch for this, it is truly a stunning stone with incredible sparkle!  This Moissanite video from Charles and Colvard shows a bit of the history and what it looks like.

IceFlower5I’m working on several pieces using moissanite that will  coordinate with the Iceflower ring.   Definitely some little silver flower stud earrings to start with, then some more urban linear designs, I think.  Anyway, just excited about a sparkly stone that’s a little more affordable than diamonds, and nowhere near as boring as that old standby cubic zirconia.  My main focus will always be ethically mined natural stones, but sometimes different is good!  (By the way, my photos here definitely do not do justice to the actual sparkle of these, just so you know.)