Moissanite maker Charles & Colvard brought big news to Manhattan yesterday to share with editors: its colorless Forever One gem was now available, its brilliance is blinding, and its color is, well…colorless.
For years, the color of moissanite was J—an issue Charles & Colvard has worked hard to rectify and does with Forever One, which is colorless or D-E-F. And with changes in management and distribution since 2008, the climate and culture is now ripe for moissanite to shine brighter and reach more young couples.
Former beauty and fashion exec Sarah Williams, vice president of marketing and branding for Charles & Colvard, was present yesterday to discuss the benefits of the man-made silicon carbide gem. Silicon carbide is a naturally occurring—but extremely rare—gem found in nature (largely in space) and discovered more than 100 years ago by French chemist Henri Moissan. In 1998, Charles & Colvard’s Created Moissanite debuted to the world to re-create the refractive index and dispersion of naturally occurring silicon carbide—2.65 to 2.69, and 2.4 times higher than diamond, respectively, according to the company.
“Moissanite is a scientifically unique gem in its own right, the second-hardest gem available to diamond, is not treated, and, rest assured that if the look ever changes, it’s covered under warranty,” Williams says.
Independent designer Kristin Coffin of the eponymous firm sells on Etsy, is a former retail sales associate at high-end galleries, and was also present to share her moissanite story. She started using moissanite several years ago when retail customers started requested it. Their reasons? Cost (moissanite is one-tenth the price of diamond), its conflict-free status (important to millennials), and the fact that it wears better over time than some other alternative engagement ring gem options. “I used to sell white sapphires, but they do not refract the light in the same way and don’t look as good after a few years,” Coffin explains.
My regram of Kristin Coffin’s Instagram snap of me playing with moissanite rings yesterday at the Charles & Colvard debut of its Forever One gem held at Paintbox in New York City
Williams found Coffin while scouring Etsy for designers who were working with moissanite. Williams’ goal: to bring moissanite into the new world and to a new generation of jewelry shopper. Social media campaigns play a big role. Website Moissy.com, rich in consumer-oriented content, offers education and fashion in a blog and through Instagram and Pinterest snaps plastered all over the site. Moissy mavens—bloggers, stylists, and socialites—nationwide also help drive home the message, as does native advertising (ads written and laid out to look like editorial, otherwise known as advertorial). Designers such as Coffin play an important role, too, by educating clients.
“People are creating what they want out of the gem,” says Williams. “Part of the story is design, so we are going to artisan designers, and another part is out-of-the-box thinking.”
Enter the Moissy event held yesterday at Paintbox nail salon in lower Manhattan. Editors were invited for breakfast, to get their nails done and listen to Williams and Coffin speak while they did, and then afterwards they piled on moissanite rings at a jewelry station. Then, their perfectly painted digits and borrowed bling were photographed for social-media-ready shots in a light box stationed nearby. Brilliant.
Light box shot of my newly manicured hands iced out with moissanite rings
“The fashion and beauty industries are so focused on what’s new, but there’s so much tradition in jewelry,” observes Williams. “We are trying to partner with brands with fans to allow consumers to have moissanite dreams.”
Case in point: Last week, Glamour’s Kim Fusaro wore a bunch of moissanite rings for a week to see the comments she would inspire, uploading plenty of shots to Instagram in the process—and causing a spike in interest for @moissy.
Still, this consumer push doesn’t leave the retailers in the cold. “We have testers at the counter in stores and make sure items are labeled so there is no confusion,” adds Williams. “Transparency is everything for us. We laser inscribe on the girdle. We want our retail partners to be in the best position to succeed with moissanite.”
Also of note: It takes four months to create a moissanite, but more on that when I visit the factory this fall.
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