Home > various and sundry > And Then I Went Jewelry Shopping:The Elusive Moissanite

And Then I Went Jewelry Shopping:The Elusive Moissanite

So, the Nerd and I have discussed getting engaged. It’s pretty much been the foregone conclusion since even before I moved down to Georgia, so it’s not like this is a surprise to anyone. What may actually come as a surprise is that I’ve actually taken the time to read up on diamonds and have come to a couple of very telling conclusions:

  • Conclusion the First: I am a spoiled brat with very expensive tastes.
  • Conclusion the Second: Unless I stop being a spoiled brat or find some other option, I’m not getting engaged before the next Presidential election (or lack thereof if we devolve into a second Civil War in the meantime).

Content with being a spoiled brat, I began to look at other avenues. Many other avenues. What I found was that

  • you can get more bang for your buck at online retailers like bluenile.com or jamesallen.com, but diamonds are still frickin’ expensive
  • lab created diamonds are still just as expensive as mined diamonds for some reason I cannot deduce, and
  • estate jewelers have the crappiest websites known to man.

No, seriously, go do a search for estate jewelers in your area. I guarantee their website looks like it threw up 1996 and you can’t narrow your search, and (oh right) they’re not really that less expensive.

Anyway, this lead to a search for an alternative gemstone. I’m not a fan of wearing colored gemstones every day and there are very few places that make their gemstone rings not as gaudy as hell, so basically this leaves me with finding a diamond simulant (or a white sapphire). I looked at diamondnexus.com, but ultimately I read way too many bad reviews for me to feel comfortable buying one of their rings. Then I remembered that I had heard of this stone called moissanite.

Don’t know what moissanite is? Don’t worry; it seems like no one does. Wikipedia describes it as such:

Mineral moissanite was discovered by Henri Moissan while examining rock samples from a meteor crater located in Canyon Diablo, Arizona, in 1893. At first, he mistakenly identified the crystals as diamonds, but in 1904 he identified the crystals as silicon carbide. The mineral form of silicon carbide was named moissanite in honor of Moissan later on in his life.

So how awesome is that? It’s stardust that I can wear on my finger. My favorite Neil Gaiman book is Stardust. My favorite Neil deGrasse Tyson quote mentions stardust:

The atoms of our bodies are traceable to stars that manufactured them in their cores and exploded these enriched ingredients across our galaxy, billions of years ago. For this reason, we are biologically connected to every other living thing in the world. We are chemically connected to all molecules on Earth. And we are atomically connected to all atoms in the universe. We are not figuratively, but literally stardust.

Moissanite is almost as hard as a diamond (which was a worry for me because I know at some point that ring’s getting hit against something unforgiving) and has a higher refractive index (which translates to brilliance) and a higher dispersion (which translates to fire). Most moissanite is lab created by a company called Charles and Colvard…in fact, if you find some that isn’t made by them, you’re probably getting ripped off. There’s a really good, seemingly unbiased description of the whole thing here.

But why am I bringing all of this up? Because yesterday, I went on a mission and that was to find a piece of moissanite to look at, in person, so I could see if everything I’ve read about moissanites being almost identical to diamonds is true because, frankly, there’s been some mixed reviews. Some people say it’s lovely and some people say it looks cheap. I probably wouldn’t even have thought to write about it except that I was a little disappointed in the subset of the human race that has become retail jewelry salespeople.

I went to every store in the Mall of Georgia that sells fine jewelry (there are ten) and came away with a few thoughts, the first of which is that the majority of jewelers have some kind of irrational hate for moissanite which I can only guess is because if someone can buy a stone that, for all intents and purposes, is equal to a diamond but costs significantly less…well, that’s going to be bad for business. Especially as the De Beers Blood Diamond Cartel of Doom ™ have spent a lot of time and money making diamonds the must-have engagement ring jewel.

Which leads into my second thought which was I didn’t expect anyone to actually be rude to a (potential) customer or straight up lie to me. I was ignored at three stores (one of which because he had a customer trying on engagement rings, but he didn’t even greet me, so I’m counting it), and was treated like a pariah at three more for even considering moissanite which baffles me because they don’t know if I wanted it for an engagement ring, a dog collar, or for my ailing mother whose dying wish is hold a piece of a meteorite in her weak hands and this was my best option.

And, of course, there was the lie. The first potential lie was when the woman in JC Penney said very loudly that it looks JUST LIKE CUBIC ZIRCONIA which while I cannot personally disprove it, even the bad reviews I’ve read never said that their problems with the stone was that it looked just like CZ. I assume she employed this tactic because, unlike moissanite, she actually sells CZ and my role as consumer was to say, “Oh, it does? Show me some of that, then!”

The second potential lie was a straight up lie that once again highlights why shopping at Zales is bad for your soul. When I asked about it, the saleswoman said, after telling me that they don’t sell moissanite, “Why not get a diamond? It’s the same price!”

No. No, no, no. If it was the same price, jewelers would be lining the walls with moissanite because it’s made in a lab, thus it will never run out, and it doesn’t have the same stigma of carnage and slavery and mining-is-bad-for-the-earth-goddess that propels some people away from buying diamonds in the first place. If they cost the same, there would be no reason at all for jewelers to sell diamonds at all. Except that De Beers has done a really good job pitching them.

But beyond that, there’s two possibilities that give me pause: either she assumed I hadn’t done my research and intentionally lied (which is shitty and makes me definitely not want to shop at Zales) or she honestly doesn’t know about the difference in price (which makes me question what kind of screening process Zales has when hiring salespeople…and makes me definitely not want to shop at Zales).

The one saving grace of the day was the salesman at Helzberg Diamonds who, in spite of the name of his store saying diamonds right there, was very nice and understood the whole price thing and seemed genuinely sorry that he didn’t have anything to show me. I mentioned that I just wanted to see some and that the lady at JC Penney had said it looked just like CZ, he told me it definitely doesn’t. Definitely, definitely not, Rainman. It looks just like a diamond and even jewelers get fooled unless they have a machine to test it. I’m inclined to believe him if only because he had nothing to gain at all from lying…and I really wish that I had the money to have bought something from him just for being polite and nice to me.

So while I went on a quest today to find a ring that doesn’t exist, what I ended up with was a complete annoyance with every retail jeweler I encountered (except for Helzberg Diamonds) and a conspiracy theorist opinion that if diamond sellers hate moissanite so much, it’s just the stone for me because in addition to being a spoiled brat, I’m also probably too contrary for my own good.

  1. amanda
    February 12, 2013 at 10:47 am

    have you decided on moissanite?? i am in the same boat as you are

    • February 12, 2013 at 1:30 pm

      I’ve 99% decided on moissanite unless something else comes along and blows me out of the water. We found a local jewelry store (dortonco.com) that was one of the first retailers of moissanite in the southeast, so they were able to show me a comparison between a diamond and a moissanite and…you really can’t tell the difference. The moissanite is maybe a little yellower if you squint and stare at them both long enough, but it’s still really pretty.

      I still see the woman who was snotty with me at Zales when I go to the mall sometimes and every once in a while I have visions of showing up with my moissanite jewelry and ask her for a wedding band to go with it, then deny her the sale after she compliments my ring…but that’s just me. 😉

  2. Keribear
    July 12, 2013 at 11:17 am

    DId you ever get the Moissanite and if so please say you went back to the Zales rep 🙂

    • July 12, 2013 at 11:25 am

      I actually ended up going the estate route (mostly by accident). I found a really beautiful ring on etsy, told my now-fiancé about it & he surprised me with it on our trip to Italy. Maybe I should have actually made a follow-up post about that…

      But yeah, had I gotten moissanite, I would have totally marched back to Zales & probably would have been rude. As it is, whenever I pass the store & see she’s working, I snarl at her. 😉

  3. Robyn
    July 25, 2014 at 10:17 pm

    Thank you for your information. I am too a spoiled brat and have been looking into getting a moissanite engagement ring.

    It was very helpful. I have the same concerns regarding how it looks.

    I just moved to Georgia from Florida and am trying to find a reputable place to make a purchase.

    Robyn B.

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