Moissanite, a lab-created stone derived from outer space with similar properties to diamonds, is proving an affordable alternative to traditional engagement rings
We automatically associate engagement rings with the image of a diamond solitaire: sparkly, durable, highly valuable and hewn from the earth. Diamonds have a vast heritage; age-old, flecked with ethical complications, but they ultimately still resonate as the most-prized precious stones and therefore remain the favourite choice for wedding jewellery.
If, however, you trawl Instagram for engagement ring inspiration, you might be confused to see similar-looking sparkle with the hashtag #moissanite. Meet the diamond alternative seducing the Millennial jewellery market: a laboratory-created stone that doesn’t require mining, has similar chemical properties to diamonds and is a fraction of the price.
Moissanite is colloquially referred to as a ‘space diamond’, because it was originally discovered in 1893 by the Nobel Prize-winning chemist Dr. Henri Moissan in the wake of a meteorite crash; it was initially mistaken for diamond particles due to its similar hardness and reflective qualities.
The substance (silicon carbide) was then named after Moissan, who recognised the lucrative potential of being able to recreate it in a lab, producing sparkling stones on tap instead of disturbing the ground.
Fast forward to 2016, and Charles & Colvard (now the global leader in moissanite manufacturing) is reporting record sales, while independent jewellery designers using the diamond alternative are being inundated with requests for moissanite stones.
Instagram and Etsy are now flooded with moissanite jewellery, YouTube has over 39,000 videos showing moissanites often side by side with diamonds, and while the popularity of the stone seems to be largely based in America at the moment, increasing numbers of mainstream UK retailers (including Debenhams) are introducing moissanite jewellery collections.
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