Is It A Diamond or A Moissanite?

Tuesday, July 27th 1999, 12:00 am

By: News On 6

There's a new gem on the market that's causing concern among jewelers. It's already been passed off as a diamond in other states, and some people have lost thousands of dollars. The stone is now available in Oklahoma.

No stone can imitate the sparkle, the shine, and the brilliance of a diamond. But appearances can be deceiving. It may be a gem called moissanite. "It's a new gem. It's a gem of its own. It is grown in a laboratory in a single crystal," said Massoud Moheb, jewelry storeowner. A company named C-3 in North Carolina makes the gem. "It is not a diamond substitute by any means. It has a better dispersion of light. It has a better fire, a better brilliance. It even is tougher than a diamond," says Moheb. But it costs a lot less and is worth a lot less than a diamond. Even some jewelers have a hard time telling the difference between the gem and a real diamond.

The News on Six decided to put the fake diamond to the test. We borrowed an $800 moissanite ring from the manufacturer. Our producer, Tammy Bettega, took it to four different jewelry stores in Tulsa for a written appraisal. Three of the four stores appraised the moissanite as a diamond. One store appraised the ring at $4200. Another store appraised the ring at just under $5000. The third valued it at close to $5200, more than five times the value of the moissanite ring.

Israel Diamond Supply was the only store to catch the fake. "They were all excited, jumping up and down. It's moissanite! It's moissanite!," said Bettega. Even the store didn't catch the fake right away. "This product even fooled the diamond tester. It looked good to me at first," said Adel Nasreddine.

The store has a new $250 moissanite tester and it did the job. Without the tester, moissanite can fool people. "From our standpoint, in the jewelry stores, our fear is somebody coming in trying to trick us and mislead us," said Vicki Cunningham, Oklahoma Jeweler's Association. Cunningham says people can trust jewelers that are members of the Oklahoma Jewelers Association or Jewelers of America.

Until there are better diamond testers, the OJA is educating stores about moissanite and cautioning consumers to watch out for stones sold in classified ads, on the internet or in pawn shops. "When you look at pawn shops where people go in and try to sell something, they're going to run into the most opportunities of somebody misrepresenting to them," said Cunningham.

Apart from the potential for rip-offs, another question for the jewelry
industry is whether moissanite can replace diamonds. But one of Tulsa's moissanite dealers says it will stand on its own as a less expensive option. "It is a very popular gem. It is going to find its niche," said Moheb. To limit problems, the manufacturer is limiting dealers. Only Moody's and Massoud's are authorized to sell moissanite in the Tulsa area.

Massouds says one way to protect yourself when buying a diamond, is to find a certified jeweler or gemologist who has seen Moissanite and is familiar with it. They should be able to tell the difference. And they also suggest making sure you get the appraisal in writing.


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