Moissanite history

Moissanite is a fascinating gemstone with a relatively recent history. Its story begins with the discovery of a new mineral, silicon carbide (SiC), in 1893 by French chemist Henri Moissan. Let's delve into the history of moissanite:

  1. Discovery by Henri Moissan (1893): In 1893, Henri Moissan discovered silicon carbide while examining rock samples from a meteorite crater in Canyon Diablo, Arizona. He initially mistook the crystals for diamonds due to their brilliance and hardness. However, further analysis revealed that the mineral was silicon carbide, a compound that had never been found in nature before.

  2. Recognition as a New Gemstone: Recognizing the gemstone's unique properties, Moissan speculated that it could serve as an ideal substitute for diamonds. He named the mineral "moissanite" in honor of his discovery. However, due to its rarity in nature, moissanite could not be commercially mined at the time.

  3. Natural Occurrence: After the initial discovery, natural moissanite was rarely found in terrestrial environments. It was later discovered that small quantities of moissanite could be found in some greenstone formations and as inclusions in diamond deposits. However, these natural sources could not yield significant amounts for commercial purposes.

  4. Synthetic Production: In the early 20th century, scientists attempted to create synthetic moissanite in laboratories. However, it was not until the 1990s that significant progress was made by researchers at the Research Triangle Institute (RTI) in North Carolina. They developed a process called the high-pressure, high-temperature (HPHT) method to produce large, gem-quality moissanite crystals.

  5. Charles & Colvard: In 1995, Charles & Colvard, a North Carolina-based company, obtained the exclusive rights to manufacture and market moissanite. They introduced moissanite as a gemstone alternative to diamonds, highlighting its exceptional brilliance, hardness (second only to diamond on the Mohs scale), and affordability compared to natural diamonds.

  6. Introduction to the Jewelry Market: Charles & Colvard began marketing moissanite jewelry in 1998. The gemstone gained popularity due to its diamond-like appearance, exceptional fire (dispersion of light), and comparatively lower cost. Moissanite rings, earrings, and other jewelry items became sought-after choices for those seeking an affordable alternative to diamonds.

  7. Advances in Manufacturing: Over the years, advancements in technology and production methods have allowed for the creation of even higher quality moissanite gemstones. These developments have improved the color and clarity of moissanite, making it an increasingly attractive option for consumers.

Today, moissanite continues to be a popular alternative to diamonds in the jewelry market. It offers unique characteristics, such as exceptional brilliance, durability, and affordability, making it a preferred choice for many individuals seeking beautiful and ethical gemstone options.