Sunday, November 28, 2004


JC Penny is selling diamond-like jewels, "made by science". Are they the new synthetic diamonds mentioned in Wired last year?

No. Those gems are made by Gemesis, in Florida, and Apollo Diamond in Boston. Moissanite is different.

From HowStuffWorks:

In 1893, Nobel Prize-winning French scientist Dr. Henri Moissan discovered minute quantities of a new mineral, natural silicon carbide. The mineral was located in an ancient meteorite found in the Diablo Canyon in Arizona. Later named "moissanite" in honor of Dr. Moissan, this mineral's supply was too limited for jewelry use.

More than a century later, Cree developed a process for producing large, single crystals of moissanite. In 1995, a master diamond cutter observed samples of the silicon carbide crystals and suggested to the founders of Charles & Colvard that, if properly cut, the crystals could make a beautiful jewel. Charles & Colvard recognized the mineral's potential. They also realized that in order for the moissanite jewels to be used, they would have to be manufactured -- there is essentially no natural supply for this stone. In 1995, Charles & Colvard partnered with Cree (a NC-based R&D lab) to develop larger gemstones for Charles & Colvard to use in the Cree colorless development program. In conjunction with Cree, Charles & Colvard is the exclusive worldwide manufacturer and marketer of lab-created moissanite gemstones.

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