Moissanite: The Second Hardest Mineral in Nature after Diamond
|Moissanite: The Second Hardest Mineral in Nature after Diamond. The colors seen in moissanite from the Mount Carmel area of northern Israel range from dark blue to light green. photo by Aurélien Delaunay.|
Colour: Green, black, Blue, Colorless, Green yellow, Yellow
Moissanite is the name given to naturally occurring silicon carbide and to its various crystalline polymorphs. It has the chemical formula SiC and is a rare mineral, discovered by the French chemist Henri Moissan in 1893. Silicon carbide is useful for commercial and industrial applications due to its hardness, optical properties and thermal conductivity.
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 was named in his honour.
The mineral form of silicon carbide was named moissanite in honor of Moissan later on in his life. The discovery in the Canyon Diablo meteorite and other places was challenged for a long time as carborundum contamination from man-made abrasive tools.
Moissanite, in its natural form, is very rare. It has only been discovered in a small variety of places from upper mantle rock to meteorites. Discoveries have shown that moissanite occurs naturally as inclusions in diamonds, xenoliths, and ultramafic rocks such as kimberlite and lamproite. They have also been identified in carbonaceous chondrite meteorites as presolar grains.
|The colors seen in moissanite from the Mount Carmel area of northern Israel range|
from dark blue to light green. Note the broken or rounded morphology.
Composite. photo by Aurélien Delaunay.
Gemological Institute of America Inc.