Necessity is the mother of invention. That’s what made mankind to invent everything we have today. But there are gemstones enjoying palpable respect among all gemstones, especially diamonds which had no history of competition with any gemstone since its discovery by India.
Few gemstones are capable to mirror a diamond’s shine such as cubic zircon still they don’t carry its miraculous properties to replace precious gemstones perfectly except moissanite (or synthetic silicon carbide).
What is Moissanite
Moissanite is originally referred to a rare mineral with chemical formula of SiC. The mineral is found as inclusions in other minerals though its natural occurrence is rare because the mineral is found in meteorites. Apart from meteorites, moissanite is also found in kimberlite in few diamond mines. This clearly indicates that moissanite was formed outside of solar system most probably in carbon-rich asymptotic giant branch stars.
Synthetic Moissanite (Silicon Carbide)
Moissanite’s scarce presence on earth invoked researchers to synthesize the material. First synthesized moissanite was made by Jöns Jacob Berzelius. Synthesized moissanite was introduced to the jewellery market only in 1998. This synthesized mineral was titled as Silicon Carbide.
The natural stone moissanite occurs in transparent, green and yellow colors. In addition, rainbow-like luster also can be originated applying a thin layer of silicon dioxide on stone’s surface. It is one of the hardest substances known to the mankind. Its hardness of 9.5 on Mohs scale makes it harder than sapphire and ruby competing with diamond’s hardness. Its specific gravity of 3.21-3.22 is higher than diamond becoming more dense and condensed. Moissanite’s crystalline atomic structure follows strong covalent bonding in diamonds that can withstand high pressure up to 52 gigapascals. Its optical properties and lustrous shine exceeds diamond’s luster proving itself a fine quality jewel.
Its similarity in hardness, optical properties, and thermal conductivity to diamond makes it good choice to substitute diamond in gemstone, cutting & abrasive industry, water-jet, sandblasting and electronics. Few of its industrial uses are given as below:
Synthetic moissanite is regarded as an excellent quality gemstone which is harder than sapphire and ruby with diamond’s adamantine luster. Even its’ use as gemstone is patented in developed countries thus only few companies are creating moissanite based jewellery. The stone shows property resemblance with diamond hence even sometimes thermal diamond testing devices can’t detect difference between the two gemstones. Therefore it is also sold sometimes as diamond too but it radiates a very slight green or yellow fluorescence under ultraviolet light which can be distinguished conveniently.
Abrasive and cutting tools
Silicon carbide’s stiff hardness and capability to bear high pressure provides good opportunities to use it in abrasive and cutting tool replacing diamonds.
Synthesized moissanite is also used in structure engineering to build automobile parts, astronomical devices, heating elements, filament pyrometry and steal making.
Electrical and electronic
Synthetic silicon carbide is a good semiconductor thus it is used to create integrated chip circuits, LED, heating elements and power electronic devices.