Identify Moissanite

Moissanite is a silicon carbide that can occur naturally or be grown in a lab. In nature, it’s extremely rare and, thus far, has only been found in upper mantle rocks and meteorites. Believe it or not, this gem occurs naturally as inclusions in Kimberlite, Xenoliths, and Lamproite.

Because of Moissanite’s durability, it can be found in various shapes, giving jewelry designers a plethora of options for jewelry settings and engagement rings. The stones found in jewelry are more than likely lab-grown and I think it is safe to assume most of the Moissanite you’ll come across will be man-made.


How to Identify Moissanite Through Testing

There are various ways to identify rocks, minerals, crystals, and gemstones, but we will use a method I learned while attending the Gemological Institute of America.  If you’ve learned a unique way to identify gems, please share it with us.

Let’s look deeper into how to identify Moissanite like a pro. 


gemstone testing lab


Visual Inspection

The visual inspection starts with what form of Moissanite you have.  The questions below are relatively easy to answer, but each type will have its own process for identifying them.


Is it a cabochon? A cabochon should have a medium to high polish with little to no pitting. Cabochons are not common when dealing with Moissanite and you’ll probably never come across a cab but you might see a partial briolette.


faceted moissanite 


Is it faceted? This will be the most common form of Moissanite you deal with and most of the time it will be very close to colorless but if you look closely you’ll see a hint of green at the edges of the stone. The “lower quality” Moissanites will be a light green to greenish-blue in color. Personally, I find these stones the most appealing but they’re not highly sought-after.

The brilliance and scintillation are on par with Diamonds and they’re difficult to ID correctly when they weigh less than 3/4 of a carat. Once you get into the larger stones you’ll start to see the green tint in the stone.


moissanite rough


Is it a specimen? Moissanite is found in different forms. You’ll get better at identifying these forms by looking at and inspecting this mineral over time. Here’s a list of characteristics Moissanite displays when it’s a specimen.

  • Tinted clear disks are common when it is in raw form.
  • The surface can display bright variations of iridescent gold, purple, and blue hues.
  • High RI = high brilliance and scintillation in cut stones.


Is it tumbled? Tumbled gems typically offer a medium to high polish. However, Moissanite isn’t commonly tumbled.


Physical Properties of Moissanite

Let’s take a look at the physical properties of Moissanite. Knowing what to look for will help you more easily identify what you’re looking at.


Color: Colorless, Slight tints of subtle yellow, green, or brown

Clarity / Transparency: Transparent

Luster: Vitreous

Cleavage: Poor/Indistinct – Indistinct {0001}

Fracture: Conchoidal


The Streak Test

This is a destructive test, so you must ensure that you can damage the specimen or stone if you choose to use this method.  You won’t use destructive tests once you’ve developed robust knowledge in identifying rocks and minerals.

A mineral streak test is when you scrape the stone against a harder surface to see what color remains.

Tumbled specimens are tested by scraping samples across a piece of ungalvanized porcelain, typically known as a streak plate.

Moissanite produces a greenish-gray streak.


Magnet Test

Natural Moissanite should not be magnetically attracted. 


Hardness Test

I don’t recommend actively testing the hardness of a stone because it’s destructive in nature and doesn’t really provide a definite answer to what type of stone it is.  Moissanite has a hardness of 9.5 on the Mohs hardness scale


Refractive Index Test

Determining the refractive index, or RI, as it’s referred to by gemologists for Moissanite, is relatively straightforward. Still, you’ll need a specific piece of test equipment and the RI fluid to go with it.  Before you place the stone on the refractometer, you want to make sure you have a flat, somewhat polished surface to take a reading.


Moissanite’s Refractive Index: 2.616 – 2.757


Each gemstone has its own RI, so discovering a sample’s RI can help you figure out what sort of stone it actually is.


Step 1 – Place a small bead of RI fluid on the metal surface of the refractometer near the back of the crystal hemicylinder (the window on which the stone will sit).

Step 2 – Place the stone facet face down on the fluid dot and slide it toward the middle of the hemicylinder crystal using your fingers.

Step 3 – Look through the viewer lens without magnification. Continue looking until you see the outline of a bubble, then look at the bottom of this bubble. Take the reading from there, rounding the decimal to the nearest hundredth.


Occasionally, you’ll run into the issue of not having a flat surface to work with.  In this instance, you’ll need to leave the top of the refractometer open and hold the rounded stone with your hand.  Hopefully, you can pull a reading off of the gauge.


Birefringence Test

Consider testing the birefringence, as well. Birefringence is related to RI. While doing the birefringence test, you will turn the gemstone on the refractometer six times throughout the observation period and note the changes.

Perform a standard RI test. Instead of keeping the stone still, gradually turn it 180 degrees, making each separate turn about 30 degrees. At each 30-degree mark, take a new RI reading.

Subtract the lowest reading from the highest to find the stone’s birefringence. Round it to the nearest thousandth.


Birefringence: 0.038 (max) 


Single or Double Refraction

Moissanite is known for having a double refraction.

The stone must be transparent for this test to be accurate and beneficial.  If the light won’t pass through the stone, there is no way to test for single or double refraction.

Check for single or double refraction. Use this test on translucent and transparent stones. You can determine whether the stone is only singly refractive (SR) or doubly refractive (DR) to help identify it. Some stones can also be classified as aggregate (AGG).

Turn on the light of a polariscope and place the stone face down on the lower glass lens (polarizer). Look through the top lens (analyzer), turning the top lens until the area around the stone looks darkest. This is your starting point.

Turn the analyzer 360 degrees and watch how the light around the stone changes.

If the stone appears dark and stays dark, it is likely an SR. If the stone starts out light and remains light, it is likely AGG. If the lightness or darkness of the stone changes, it is likely DR.


Checking The Diaphaneity

Diaphaneity refers to the mineral’s ability to transmit light. For instance, some minerals are transparent or translucent. A small amount of distortion might occur when they’re thick, but light will pass through them relatively freely.

Moissanite is transparent.


Finding The Specific Gravity

Every stone has its unique specific gravity, which helps us identify them. Specific gravity is one of the best properties to measure when identifying mineral specimens. Most minerals have a narrow range of specific gravity, so getting an accurate measurement can go a long way toward identification.

Specific gravity is a unitless number describing how heavy a mineral is compared to equal volumes of water. For example, if a mineral is three times as dense as water, it’ll have a specific gravity of three. This is useful because while two minerals might be the same size, they’ll each have a different specific gravity.

The larger the sample, the more precise the readings tend to be. Remember that this technique can only be used for single mineral or crystal masses. It will not work for minerals embedded in host rocks.


Moissanite’s Specific Gravity: 3.218 – 3.22 


As helpful as specific gravity is for identifying minerals, amateurs are usually constrained by the need for more necessary tools for the job. However, one way to work around this is to hold the specimen and note how heavy or hefty it feels compared to what you might expect a specimen of that size to weigh.

If you want to determine the specific gravity of your stone like a pro, you’ll need to invest in a higher-end scale.  The OHAUS Density Determination Kit is the one gemologists use. 


Identifying Rocks and Minerals Like a Pro

Hopefully, you feel confident in your practice of identifying a piece of Moissanite after reading and applying this guide.  You’ll be using the visual part of this guide the most, and you’ll get better as you interact with more gemstones.  Before you know it, you’ll be identifying stones like a gemologist.

Feel free to reach out if you encounter any issues or need clarification. I’ll do my best to assist you in the identification process.

Jerred Morris
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