Thursday, 16 June 2016

Moissanite vs. Diamond vs. Amora Gem (Vomit Marketing Campaign!)

While most of the time I felt like I wanted to post something, I ended losing interest or just forgetting about the topic entirely. However, on this particular topic, my mega chemistry nerd self would not let me go to sleep tonight if I did not express my thoughts on this RIGHT NOW!

This came about when I was browsing forums on people's opinions of Moissanite, since I have recently upgrade my Forever Classic stones on engagement ring to the new Forever One stones. Also, I'm going to assume that if you're reading this post, you have some knowledge of what moissanite is and I do not have to explain it.

Disclaimer: I'm a Moissanite or Diamond Alternative advocate, everything I write here is of my own honest opinion and not sponsored by any companies. Yes, my stones are from Charles and Colvard (C&C), but that's only because the only jeweller that sells moissanite in Sydney/Australia stocks only their stones. All quotes in italics are taken from http://www.amora-gems.com/.

Part I: WARNING, this is only the beginning of me ranting, there might be some information that may help though. Anyway, so there are some pretty interesting comments out there that made me more eager to write this post. If you're not interested in listening to scientific rationalisation and being educated in the light of science and knowledge, please stop reading here, it is not worth your time and there are clearly no room for arguments here.

The most common 'cons' people have with moissanite are; 1) people mistake it for a diamond, 2) some stones have a greenish tinge or streaks, and 3) they're a new stone and therefore, has not withstood the test of time.

Let me address these points for you:
1) Not sure how this is a con... If people try to pass it for a diamond, it is not the problem of the stone. Moissanite have similar visual properties to diamonds, so it is not surprising that it happens. Some people will call it a fake diamond, but you can choose to educate them or let them remain ignorant. Their opinion may or may not change, but now you've spread the word about moissanite.

2) If your stone is green, then you most probably just have a bad quality stone. It is common for moissanites to have green or yellow colours, but there are also plenty of good quality colourless stones around. Yes, they are synthetic, i.e. grown in the laboratory under simulated conditions. It does not mean they're somehow made in a mould to be exactly the same as each other. So if you're interested in buying one, I highly suggest going into a store and have a look at them in person. They do come in the D-F colourless range now, and they have actual green coloured stones, but I don't particularly like that green colour.

3) Test of time is perhaps the most unfounded opinion! The laboratory synthetic technology has only been developed for ~20 years, it doesn't mean the stone has only been around for that long. The first moissanite was discovered in 1893 by the crazy arse-kicking Nobel laureate Henri Moissan, and has later been found in some meteorites. Diamond withstands the test of time under inert and non-extreme conditions due to its structure and properties. Time itself has NOTHING to do with it. To ask if a moissanite will still look the same after 100 years is a clear indication that the person does not understand the science behind materials. If you don't understand, that is ok, just don't make unfounded judgements. Anyway, moissanite has very comparable physical properties to diamonds, such as durability and hardness, so it will withstand the test of time (assuming you don't try to wear it like some cheap $2 junk you bought in the Reject Shop).

If you still have any questions to elaborate on why and how things work, please leave a comment or message me. I would love to explain things in more detail.

Moving onto Part II: 
I have to admit, I have never looked closely into Amora Gems by Better Than Diamonds (BTD) until browsing through some forums. I never thought about purchasing them because they're not available in Australia anyway. After reading some buyers' positive reviews, I decided to have a closer look at how they claim to be better than C&C's moissanites.

Amora Gem claims to be different to Moissanite due to its structural difference and better physical properties. Their words: 'No. The crystal structure of the Amora Gem is distinct, and optically superior, to the crystal structure of Moissanite by Charles and Colvard. The Amora Gem has more brilliance (higher refractive index), and better color (wider optical band gap) than Moissanite. Both Amora Gem and Moissanite by Charles and Colvard are members of the ‘Silicon Carbide’ family of crystals – there are over 200+ members of this family.'

Let me tell you straight up, it sounds like a load of bull crap, and let me explain that more critically as follows. I actually left the most important factor to the end, so skip through to see if you agree before reading the rest.

1 - Structural difference:
Moissanite is the name of the class of crystalline silicon carbide, including its many polytypes. Yes, structures within this family may vary dramatically (as stated by BTD), the company does not state which polytype it is for those who are interested to find out HOW exactly it is better than the common 6H polytype moissanite created by C&C. You can look up the structure and properties of SiC on scientific journals (require subscription but free for uni students/researchers). I found this nice but old information website for the polytypes. From the references, it looks like the 2H and the 4H polytypes are slightly superior in RI and colour, but not hardness. The 3C polytype is intrinsically yellow, so it can't be that. It'll be interesting to find out what Amora Gem actually is!

Polytypes are related by slight structural differences, and you can make some really different polytypes. However, most of the 200 moissanite polytypes are likely unsuitable for making gemstones. They used diamond and graphite as examples or structural difference, but they are Allotropes, which have a very different definition of classification!

2 -Patent:
I have no law background so I'm not going too much into this. Here's the C&C patent and Amora's Sales Restriction.

In short, the C&C's patent covers many SiC polytypes (in particular the  common 6H and 4H) and doped-SiC, but most douche-baggery of all - "Rough SiC gemstones are cut from large single crystals and then fashioned into finished gemstones by a combination of techniques currently employed in connection with conventional colored gemstones and diamonds."

Therefore, if BTD could not come up with another way of cutting SiC crystals into gemstones, they cannot sell SiC gemstones. It is a very broad patent, non-innovative, and has been invalidated in Korea. The patent has expired and is expiring in many countries, and BTD is desperately trying to set itself apart from C&C in order to get into the market. There's nothing wrong with that, but what they make is still Moissanite, unless they have developed other SiC structures that are not part of the polytype family!

And how does BTD set itself apart from the more established and reputable C&C? 

3 - Marketing: F***! This is dodgy as hell and false advertising at its best!

Let's give some examples of what they write on their website! By the way, maybe you would like to start a drinking game for every time I say 'F***' or abbreviate phrases that contain it, cos I'm pulling their shit apart! The C&C's website maybe not have references for their data (they have a patent though), but it does not include false information or blatant lies.

'Amora Gem Crystal is older than planet Earth, but was never available on Earth..until now!' 


I mean, how the hell did geologist find it in the first place over 120 years ago?

'Due to incredibly high temperatures it requires for growth, it is only present on Earth in rare quantities near the Earth´s heated core, and it is lack of availability is perhaps one reason that diamond became the most prized gem on Earth.' 

Contradicting statements, and NO, they do not form in the earth's core FFS! The upper mantle (7 to 35 km downward to 410 km below the crust) is far far away from the core! Diamonds are not the most prized due to its rarity but to the most successful marketing campaign in history!

'Now that Amora is grown in a lab by creating star-like conditions, the total production is a small fraction of the annual mining output of natural diamonds.' 

So they've solved the fusion process?! Fusion occurs in stars at temperatures over 100 million degrees! Just stop your bullshit already! Every single sentence in the paragraphs 'About Amora' section is not just a little, but completely incorrect! How can they get it this wrong?

'Moissanite is not a diamond alternative.'

Then WTF is it then?! Your bullshit 'New category into the luxury gems family'?! 

Now their comparison to moissanite - The SAME F**king thing!

Refractive index: AG 2.66-2.71 vs. Moissanite 2.65-2.69, a whooping difference of 0.01-0.02, or <1% difference. How the f*** can you claim that to be MORE brilliant? If you've done science even in high school, you'll know that these values are probably within error margins of the measurements. 

This is when they try to be scientific but still gets it wrong: 'Note that when a value is listed as with two values with a hyphen, it means the material is doubly refractive. In other words, the value from light entering the side is different than light entering the top.'

FFS! That's not the meaning of birefringence and definitely an aweful explanation! Just use a textbook or Wiki already! In short, one beam of incident light splits into two differently polarised beams of light as it goes through a medium. I am so angry right now and you can probably already tell by the excessive swearing...

Colour: AG - D-F vs. Moissanite - Green Tint. C&C moissanites now also come in D-F colourless range, which I suspect is the same as the AG, as it is more difficult to grow to a larger size and takes longer. Even C&C's Forever Classic moissanites never tinted green, it was definitely on the warmer faint coloured J-K range. BTD is comparing the most outdated technology and products from C&C, which is just not fair! You can also treat gemstones to get a better colour, but subjecting them to harsh chemical or physical conditions may affect the structural integrity of the stones and make them less durable. I don't know how BTD achieves a whiter colour, they do not specify that at all.

Cut: Not a gemologist but learning to become one. Since C&C also has the patent on the cut of their moissanites, the AG is of a Hearts & Arrow style (Tiger) cut. Due to the different refractive index to diamond and birefringence, C&C developed and PATENTED the best way to bring out the brilliance in moissanites, while H&A cuts are best for diamonds. So some of the negative buyer reviews usually revolve around how the AG looks flat in low light, glassy, or has weird reflected rainbows. The main reason for that would be a bad cut of the stone. This never happened with my C&C moissanites, they still shine through even in dim lighting. I have to leave that to someone who has seen both stones side by side to leave further comments.

4 - FINAL but Most Important - WARRANTY! 
NO F***ING WARRANTY! Their excuse: 'Amora gems with 9.5 hardness do not need a warranty (similarly like diamonds).'

Tiffany and most reputable diamond sellers offer life-time manufacturer warranties, so does C&C on their moissanites! If you still want to buy a AG after reading this post, it's up to you. Their prices are not even cheaper than the C&C's Forever One Moissanites!
I think I've said more than enough about how dodgy this company portrays their Amora Gem. I will support a competitor who provides a quality and reasonably priced moissanite source, but this company is just FULL OF SHIT! I can imagine how hard it is to compete under a patent law, but it doesn't mean you have to lie about EVERYTHING! This website has perhaps the most infuriatingly inaccurate and outrages marketing claims I've ever came across! Not exaggerating!

I'll upload some photos of my moissanites another time.

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