The Mineral MOISSANITE

  • Chemistry: SiC, Silicon Carbide
  • Class: Native Elements
  • Subclass: Non-metals
  • Group: Carbon
  • Uses: Only as mineral specimens, but artificial material has many uses especially as an abrasive, semi-conductor and as diamond simulants.
  • For Moissanite crystal mineral specimens see our For Sale or Sold lists
    For Moissanite Jewelry, see --> MOISSANITE JEWELRY

    Moissanite is a mineral that was first discovered in fragments of the meteorite at Diablo Canyon or Meteor Crater in Arizona. It was named in honor of its discoverer, Nobel Prize winner Dr. Ferdinand Henri Moissan. Synthetic moissanite is also known as silicon carbide after its chemistry and by the trade name carborundum. In the meteoritic material, moissanite is associated with tiny diamonds.  Moissanite is also the trade name being used for new synthetic SiC gemstones.

    Moissanite grown in laboratories is now being cut as gemstones and they are used as diamond simulants. Moissanite brings to the jeweler's table a similar index of refraction and better than twice the fire of diamond, but is only slightly less expensive due to the difficulty in growing nearly colorless crystals. Moissanite is causing quite a stir in the jewelry markets.

    As a diamond simulant, artificial moissanite is very hard to differentiate from diamond and can fool many gemologists. It does have many similarities. It is very hard at 9.25 (diamond is 10) and it is highly refractive with an index of refraction of 2.6 - 2.7 (diamond's IR is slightly lower at 2.42). Most important, moissanite and diamond are thermally conductive unlike other diamond simulants and unfortunately it is this property that is primarily used as the test for the authenticity of real diamonds. Differences however are clear and other tests can be used to differentiate the two. First of all, moissanite is hexagonal, not isometric and therefore it is doubly refractive unlike diamond. A through-the-face examination of a moissanite gemstone should show double facet edges whereas a diamond's edges are single in appearance. Moissanite is also slightly less dense than diamond and is rarely perfectly clear of color, having pale shades of green. Natural flaws are absent in moissanite, replaced instead by tiny, unnatural, white, ribbon-like structures that are a result of the growing process. The synthetic SiC known as carborundum has seen many uses in high tech ceramics, electrical components, abrasives, ball bearings, semi-conductors, extremely hard saws and armor.

    Natural moissanite is very rare and is limited to iron-nickel meteorites and a few other rare ultramafic igneous occurrences. Initially there were skeptics to the original meteorite findings and were attributed to the silicon carbide blades that may have been used to saw the type specimens. But this has been disputed because Dr Henri Moissan did not use silicon carbide blades to prepare the samples.

    Moissanite can be a bi-product of the blast-furnace process used to make iron. In a blast furnace, the raw ingredients such as iron ore, carbon (usually in the form of coke, but other forms such as methane may be used), limestone and other chemicals and air (used to react with impurities) are continuously introduced. The reaction results in the production of pig iron which is removed as a liquid while the impurities form a slag which floats to the top and is removed. The sides of the huge furnace are relatively cool, while the interior is very hot, and this creates conditions for minerals to crystallize. Every few months, the furnace is emptied so that these minerals can be cleaned from the walls of the furnace. One such mineral is moissanite, which readily crystallizes from the silicon and carbon dissolved in the molten iron. The resulting moissanite crystals are nearly black and opaque due to their iron content, but they can be quite colorful and beautiful due to a surface iridescence, although most are ground up and used as abrasives.

    There are several phases of SiC. The original mineral discovered is officially known as moissanite-6H. The (6H) refers to the hexagonal symmetry of this phase of moissanite. There are two other phases recognized as minerals: moissanite-5H and the isometric phase beta-moissanite.

    Moissanite is classified as an element despite the fact that in chemical reality it is a compound! The reason for this is that the elemental bonds that exist between carbon and silicon are very similar to the carbon-carbon bonds of other elemental minerals such as diamond. There also is just no other mineral class that moissanite could fit in better than the Native Elements Class! Moissanite in fact is sometimes placed into the Carbon Group which includes diamond and graphite. Additional justification lies in the structure of moissanite which is similar to the structure of diamond. Other chemically unusual Elements Class minerals that are found in meteorites include osbornite {TiN}, cohenite {Fe3C} and schreibersite {(Fe, Ni)3P}.

    PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS:

    • Color is green (although it may be nearly colorless to essentially black).
    • Luster is adamantine.
    • Transparency: Crystals are transparent to translucent.
    • Crystal System is hexagonal, trigonal and isometric.
    • Crystal Habits include tiny six-sided plates and grains in meteorites.
    • Hardness is 9.25
    • Specific Gravity is 3.1 - 3.2 (average)
    • Streak is white.
    • Other Characteristics: Index of refraction is 2.6 - 2.7, crystals are thermally conductive and highly double refractive.
    • Associated Minerals include iron meteorites and olivine.
    • Notable Occurrences include Diablo Canyon or Meteor Crater in Arizona and as a trace in several kimberlite deposits and placer deposits eroded from them.
    • Best Field Indicator is crystal habit, color, index of refraction, double refraction, density, thermal conductivity and especially hardness.
    Amethyst Galleries sells natural mineral specimens, including precious metals and gemstones. For Fine Jewelry, please visit our affiliates.

    Moissanite Jewelry - Hover over an item for more information
    The Diana Ring
    The Diana Moissanite RingOnly $609.00 at Angara.com
    no photoThe Diana Ring
    $609.00
    Angara.com
    Splendid Trio Ring
    Splendid Trio Moissanite RingOnly $1,229.00 at Angara.com
    no photoSplendid Trio Ring
    $1,229.00
    Angara.com
    "platinum diamond unique engagement ring,wedding ring with moissanite center stone ADER154"
    "This is gorgeous unique engagement diamond ring. It has 2 VS-SI/G-H color diamonds total weight of 0.03ct. The center stone is 0.88ct moissanite All sizes are available. This ring would make excellent engagement ring or a very special present for your...Only $1,420.00 at Anjays Designs
    no photo"platinum diamond unique engagement ring,wedding ring with moissanite center stone ADER154"
    $1,420.00
    Anjays Designs
    Infinity Knot Pendant
    Infinity Knot Moissanite PendantOnly $509.00 at Angara.com
    no photoInfinity Knot Pendant
    $509.00
    Angara.com
    The Diana Ring
    The Diana Moissanite RingOnly $1,139.00 at Angara.com
    no photoThe Diana Ring
    $1,139.00
    Angara.com
    Magnolia Flower Ring
    Magnolia Flower Moissanite RingOnly $549.00 at Angara.com
    no photoMagnolia Flower Ring
    $549.00
    Angara.com
    Magnolia Flower Ring
    Magnolia Flower Moissanite RingOnly $1,019.00 at Angara.com
    no photoMagnolia Flower Ring
    $1,019.00
    Angara.com
    The Celtic Ring
    The Celtic Moissanite RingOnly $739.00 at Angara.com
    no photoThe Celtic Ring
    $739.00
    Angara.com
    Round White Moissanite Margarita Studs
    Round White Moissanite Margarita StudsOnly $929.00 at Angara.com
    no photoRound White Moissanite Margarita Studs
    $929.00
    Angara.com
    The Diana Ring
    The Diana Moissanite RingOnly $819.00 at Angara.com
    no photoThe Diana Ring
    $819.00
    Angara.com
    The Eternal Beauty Ring
    The Eternal Beauty Moissanite RingOnly $639.00 at Angara.com
    no photoThe Eternal Beauty Ring
    $639.00
    Angara.com
    The Hem Ring
    The Hem Moissanite RingOnly $1,739.00 at Angara.com
    no photoThe Hem Ring
    $1,739.00
    Angara.com
    Magnolia Flower Ring
    Magnolia Flower Moissanite RingOnly $409.00 at Angara.com
    no photoMagnolia Flower Ring
    $409.00
    Angara.com
    The Sauve Solitaire Ring
    The Sauve Solitaire Moissanite RingOnly $1,319.00 at Angara.com
    no photoThe Sauve Solitaire Ring
    $1,319.00
    Angara.com
    Splendid Trio Ring
    Splendid Trio Moissanite RingOnly $1,759.00 at Angara.com
    no photoSplendid Trio Ring
    $1,759.00
    Angara.com

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