News 3 Dec 2018
A team from the Technical Institution of Malaita (TIM) has discovered what is believed to be the biggest crystal natural moissanite to be found in Malaita.
The world's biggest crystal natural moissanite ever recorded was 4.14 mm discovered in northeastern Israel along the Kishon River in 2012.
However, the crystal natural moissanite that was uncovered in East Kwara'ae is measured on an average of 15 mm with the biggest one measured about 20 mm. This sets a new local, regional and world record.
This discovery breaks the world record on the size as the biggest moissanite ever discovered.
According to Instructor and Head of Gemology Department at Technical Institute of Malaita, Henry Dao, he said Moissanite is one of the rarest mineral on planet Earth.
Mr. Dao told the Solomon Star in an exclusive interview that after the discovery, synthetic moissanite was created as a substitute for diamond, however, the search for natural moissanite is incredibly high.
"According to our research report, 32% of the samples collected were verified moissanite with about 80% composition in each crystal affirmative samples," he said.
"Other minerals found were all diamond stimulants."
"Diamond stimulant is the imitate of diamond mineral which replicate the colour and appearance of diamond and was used as diamond substitutes for sometimes," he added.
"Moissanite is almost identical to diamond with a hardness of 9.25 on Moh's scale and diamond is 10," he explained.
In 1983, a French scientist named Henri Moissan, who belived that material is originated as meteorite that fell into Earth, without knowing that natural moissanite is extremely rare.
"The moissanite specimens were discovered as pebbles along the streams on the interior eastern part of Malaita Island.
"Research studies proved that moissanite has been found as a constituent of kimberlite pipes and or in associated with volcanic rocks.
"Sometimes moissanite crystals are found as inclusions within diamonds and dispersed in the matrix of kimberlites.
"Our field observations and tests (presidium multi tester) confirm that the crystals with conchodial fracture, greenish-grey streak, transparent and colourless-yellowish appearance were moissanite crystal.
"Natural moissanite is rare and its terrestrial occurence was the inclusion of diamond bearing-rock the kimberlite and tertiary volcanic rocks," he said.
He said Malaita Island formed as part of the Ontong Java Plateau magmatic events and has plume-related basalt compositon.
He said many geologists interpret Malaita anticlinorium as the obducted part of Ontong Java Plateau.
"The Malaita Island geological setting in clearly an indication of suitable terrestrial occurrence of the valuable gemstones including moissanite recently discovered.
"The discovery of moissanite in Malaita Island indicates that there are sources of this rare mineral (kimberlite pipe) out there that are yet to be located.
"Our research team is working on conducting another field research in the aim of locating the sources of the primary deposits of moissanite mineral and other valuable gemstones like diamond, topaz, zircon and etc," he said.
The latest crystal natural moissanite discovery will now stand as the world's biggest crystal natural moissanite in the world.
With that, the Director of the Technical Institute of Malaita, Bennard Bakote'e said TIM is aiming at developing gemstones cottage industry in the province where he said the latest discovery of crystal natural moissanite is a bonus to the institution that is dedicated to gemstone development.
Mr. Bakote'e said MIT also have a gemmology school, a school that focuses mainly on gemstones development.
He said the idea is to teach young people how to do gemstone development so that when they go back to their homes they can venture into Jewellery Cottage business to earn money from their natural resources.
He said Malaita province is blessed with all kinds of gemstones where he said involving young people in gemstone development is the way forward for Malaita.