The phrase “game-changer” might be thrown around a lot, but in terms of a certain recent arrival in the jewelry industry, it’s more than apt.
This is about a go-to diamond alternative rising in popularity amongst millennials, environmentalists and budget-conscious consumers. This “it” gem is Moissanite, and it’s revolutionizing how people shop for engagement rings and jewellery.
The gem today is worn by one in ten brides – making it the most common non-diamond stone.
There are many reasons for this shift, according to Colleen Montague, owner of Moissy Fine Jewellery, specializing in Moissanite gemstones. For one, it costs about 80 percent less to its comparable diamond – a big draw for millennial buyers, who are coming in droves.
“They’d rather spend on an affordable ring, and the rest, on a home, or a vacation,” she says. “It’s not the price tag that holds the value; rather, the experience in curating their perfect piece, that really solidifies what that piece of jewellery means to them.”
However make no mistake, just because it costs less, doesn’t mean it’s a lesser product. As the second hardest gem next to a diamond, Moissanite never clouds or changes colour, she insists.
“It has more shine than a natural diamond,” says Montague, also a member of the Canadian Jewellers Association. “And in most cases, it’ll have better clarity.”
And a big plus in this eco-conscious era for many is that lab-created gems, like Moissanite, require no mining, and therefore, cause no environmental impact.
Moissy works with a wide array of gems, including 14K, 18K, and Platinum metals for all jewellery pieces. They also offer work with a wide array of moissanite brands and create jewellery using 14K.
A relative newcomer to the industry, Moissanite originally was discovered in an Arizona meteorite by Nobel Prize-winning French chemist Dr. Henri Moissan, more than 120 years ago. At the time, it was believed the stones were diamonds, Montague explains.
It was in 1998 that Moissanite was introduced to the jewellery market by Charles & Colvard, formerly known as C3 Inc.
Montague discovered Moissanite online by chance when looking to buy affordable jewellery. She purchased it to upgrade a natural diamond ring she had.
“I was enthusiastic about how the gemstone performed, the sparkle and the durability were outstanding, and I loved the compliments I got on it daily,” she says.
Much to her chagrin, however, it was a challenge to find a jeweller who would work with these stones, “and even harder to see any finished pieces.” That was when the light bulb went off in her head: there was a void to fill in the industry, and she took the initiative to fill it.
“I realized there were going to be consumers that loved this product just as much as I did, but I was going to need a platform to explain and showcase Moissanite. I could educate consumers on options when shopping for their jewellery pieces,” she explains the impetus for opening her stores.
Today, Montague oversees two Moissy Fine Jewellery locations: one near Toronto’s Yorkdale Mall that opened in 2018, and the other in Arizona. Both are the only places on the continent that exclusively sell Moissanite jewelry. A third store is opening in November in Canada’s capital city, Ottawa to serve both the Ottawa and Quebec market.
Montague feels the modern, bright showrooms, with more than a hundred live-pieces on display, is what has brought in the stream of customers. “We want each shopper to have a one-of-a-kind experience with our innovative upscale store,” she says.
“Customers want the opportunity to see these gemstones in person, touch, feel and try on, and they want them to be in the most trending styles with lots of selection.”
The team at Moissy consists of six associates, two seasoned jewellers and an expert gemologist, with Montague doing all of the design, in-store. So whether it’s an existing display, a custom shape, a drawing or a picture, they’ll fit the design to the customer’s specifications.
She says social media has helped too, for consumers to view each piece virtually before buying. “ Instagram has over 13,000-plus followers and some 6,000-plus viewers each month on Pinterest.
“The ability to connect with our clients via social media or online means that they feel like they know us,” she explains. “We are able to do virtual consultations with customers, where we can bring each client right into a showroom environment, even if they are miles away.”
Moissanite is poised to be a “game-changer,” indeed, and Montague is at the centre of this trend-setting movement.
“I’m really excited to be the one to head the change,” she says. “We have a lot of young couples buying, and the news is spreading, and I’m honoured to be the one to introduce the product to Toronto. It has been received so well.”