I was first introduced to Moissanite more than 20 years ago, way before I became a jewelry designer.
I was shopping for my engagement ring and I wanted to make sure that the ring I get is something that I will be fond of wearing and seeing every single day of my life. Being a first time engagement ring shopper, I didn’t even know what questions to ask. I walked into a jewelry store and started looking at their displays. A lady came to me and asked if I needed help in finding something. I told the lady what I was there for and she said, “Let’s start with the stone”. She walked inside a room and came back with a tray of similar sized round stones. She shone her pen light on each of them and told me not to think of the price but really look at each of the stones and choose which one really speaks to me. As any other person would do who are not aware that there are other stones used for engagement rings beside diamond, I assumed that all the stones in front of me were diamond gemstones. I chose the most sparkly stone in the lot and braced myself to hear how much it was. To my surprise she told me a price I wasn’t expecting and I asked her if what I chose was a high quality Cubic Zirconia. She said “No, but you chose the only Moissanite that I included in the tray.” “A moiss-a-what?” I said. She said “It’s a Moissanite…it’s a gemstone that’s new in the market” and she began explaining to me that it was a lab made stone. At that point, I didn’t care that it was a simulant or synthetic or if it was just a crystal gemstone. I chose it because it sparkled the most gracefully compared to the rest of the stones on the tray and cost 90% less than a diamond.
Late last week I saw a question posted on social media asking if people would prefer to buy lab diamonds over mined ones and why. I posted my answer in a form of a question - “Why not Moissanite?” The response I got varied from “You’re comparing apples to oranges” to “Moissanite is nothing like diamond, it’s just a simulant” to “Moissanite is synthetic” to
“Isn’t that the singer’s last name, Alanis Moissanite?”
First, let’s differentiate the words synthetic and simulant. Although these words definition overlap in regular conversations, in the world of gemology, synthetic refers to gemstones that are produced using chemical synthesis where as a simulant refers to a look-a-like gemstone but made with a completely different type of material. Using these definitions as our guideline, a lab made diamond would be classified as synthetic and so are Moissanite and any other gemstones made in the lab such as lab grown rubies and sapphires. Since Moissanite closely resembles diamond, it is also categorized as a diamond simulant and so are white topaz, zircon, white sapphire, crystals and quartz. Diamond simulants can be natural, synthetic or a combination of both.
While I do understand, as an advocator of using Moissanite instead of diamond in any type of jewelry, that Moissanite is a completely different mineral. Many jewelers and gemologists roll their eyes, even get offended every time they hear me compare the two minerals because as they said, I’m comparing apples to oranges. As jewelers, they are used to dealing with the science and the different reactions of each gemstone during the jewelry making process. Having studied gemstones, they focus on the differences in properties, crystal formations and characteristics of different gemstones. Because of this, they lose sight of the common consumers’ point of view.
Not comparing Moissanite to diamond is nearly impossible
because in reality, due to DeBeers’ long and aggressive marketing propaganda, diamond has become a point of comparison for any kind of precious stones. Do you really still feel the need to ask me why? Because this is the gemstone that any regular, non- jeweler consumer is familiar with and can easily understand. If I stand at a corner and compare Moissanite to corundum or spinel, I might as well speak in Martian language because no Tom, Dick or Harry would even know that I’m referring to gemstones.
What I don’t understand is why—more than two decades later after Moissanite was first introduced to the jewelry industry---are there still a large number of jewelers and designers still pushing back on introducing Moissanite as a choice for engagement rings center stones to their clients or using it in fine designer jewelry? In some tradeshows we’ve attended, some jewelry store owners prefer to shop for Cubic Zirconia pieces for their gifts section but shrugs in the mere mention of Moissanite. For the diamond purists who rolls their eyes and get offended when diamonds are compared to other precious stones, what I see is how brainwashed they still are believing that diamond is the queen of all gemstones and when it comes to fine jewelry, only natural diamond, rubies and sapphires will do.
While there’s a legal mandate and an ethical practice for jewelers to explain to their clients the differences in each of the precious stones’ compositions, origins and the like, realistically, regular consumers are more drawn to what’s visually appealing to them.
Being a jeweler now and knowing more information about the industry than what a standard consumer does, I can’t lose sight of how it was for me as a conventional shopper looking for a piece of jewelry that I would enjoy wearing everyday and will not change in color or become cloudy over time. It is durable enough to withstand chips and breakage more so than other precious stones accommodating my active lifestyle.
It begs me to think, if more jewelers are like the person who introduced me to Moissanite and include it in the roster of choices for custom jewelry, how many people would actually choose Moissanite over diamond? Or is this the very reason why the die-hard diamond fans are refusing to acknowledge this everlasting, brilliantly mesmerizing gemstone?