Posted: 13 Jul 2011 06:01 PM PDT
The mineral moissanite derives its name from Nobel Prize winner Dr. Ferdinand Henri Moissan, who discovered traces of it in a meteorite at Diablo Canyon it in 1893. What makes this substance so special is that it is almost as hard as diamond. On the Mohs Scale, which measures the hardness of minerals (www.amfed.org/t_mohs.htm) it scores a 9.25 compared to the “perfect 10″ of diamond.
There was an initial furor on the jewelry market when moissanite first surfaced. Would it compete with diamond as the world’s most treasured mineral? The fact was that even seasoned experts might be fooled into mistaking colorless maissonite for diamond without the proper equipment. In fact, moissanite even shares the thermal conductivity and much of the molecular structure of diamond.
Those misgivings have since been laid to rest. In the first place, natural maissonite (moissanite-6H) does not come in big enough sizes to be useful as jewelry, and the synthetic version (silicon carbide or aluminum oxide) is not held in high esteem among purists. Secondly, there is an infallible test protocol that the difference between moissanite and diamonds can be easily read.
However, moissanite has now emerged as a valid means of its own jewelry. The stones are made from its synthetic version marketed as SiC gemstones, and have quite a fan base. They are twice as likely to "fire" found indiamonds, and are certainly cheaper.
Natural moissanite is crystalline, green in color, with an adamantine luster. It is generally transparent or translucent and occurs in hexagonal or trigonal shapes. These are the main factors used for determining it. It belongs chiefly to the carbon group of compounds, which also includes diamond and graphite.
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