The world’s rarest stone is a unique mineral, the natural Moissanite. It was named after the French chemist who discovered it. This spectacular mineral with the hardness and luster of a diamond is very rare in the natural environment. It can be found only in kimberlite rock, magmatic deposits of corundum, and some fallen meteorites.
Taking into consideration the fact that Moissanite is very close to diamonds by all characteristics and its amount in the natural environment is negligible, we learned how to produce this mineral synthetically. It is worth mentioning that the process of artificial production took place before scientists found such a stone in nature.
The phenomenon of the crystal’s decomposition of white light into all colors of the rainbow is called dispersion. Moissanite is twice as dispersive as diamond. Moissanite is 5-30 times cheaper than diamond.
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History of Moissanite
The natural mineral was first discovered by Henri Moissan in 1893 when he examined samples of rocks from the crater of the Canyon Diablo (Devil’s Canyon) meteorite that fell in Arizona (USA). The scientist discovered grains of an unfamiliar mineral, which at first were mistaken for a diamond, so much they looked like. For some time, the discovery of this mineral was challenged by speculation about possible contamination of the material with carborundum from the tool used in sawing the rocks.
It was not until 1904 that scientists were able to make an exact laboratory analysis to determine the composition, which included silicon carbide, and the new stone was named moissanite after the man who had found it. Artificial Moissanite was already known all over the world, but it had never been found in its natural form. After research, scientists concluded that this compound is common in space, being very rare on Earth: around carbon-saturated stars in dust clouds, in non-transformable meteorites, etc.
The difference between a diamond
Even with an idea of how to tell the difference between a diamond and a Moissanite, it is impossible to do it without special equipment, because the two stones are similar in every way. This stone is comparable to a diamond in many ways and even surpasses it in some. Though one hardly ever sees natural Moissanite, jewelers use its artificial counterpart. Let us discuss why this stone is so valuable and whether it can replace a diamond.
Experienced experts cite several proven tests through which you can see the differences between a diamond and a cosmic mineral:
- Establishing electrical conductivity. This is determined with a special instrument. It is different for each Moissanite, while the diamond shows stability;
- Testing with an open flame. Moissanite turns greenish when heated. But this method has one major disadvantage. This test should be done very carefully, as heating in an open flame darkens the stone and makes it impossible to clean later;
- Measurement of the specific gravity. The specific gravity of a diamond is 3.52, while that of a Moissanite is 3.18 to 3.25. If one throws both stones into the liquid, the diamond will sink, while the Moissanite will not;
- Optical experience. It is possible to distinguish a fuzzy jointing and a brighter play of light on the facets of a Moissanite with the help of magnifying optics;
- identification of Mohs hardness. When the Moissanite is scratched with a diamond-tipped instrument, it can be slightly damaged;
- Luminescent qualities in the ultraviolet. Not the most reliable method. When examining stones in ultraviolet light, diamond transmits but Moissanite absorbs;
- Measuring the reflective coefficient. It is difficult to reliably verify the refractive index of light; it is easy to fool the measuring instrument.