We recently spoke with New Zealand jeweler Debra Fallowfield, one of moissanite’s biggest aficionados and arguably New Zealand’s most well-loved contemporary fine jeweler. Her work has been described by many as “urban icons” or talismans for a modern age. Known both locally and internationally for her unique, bold, and distinctive designs, she has garnered a large and very loyal clientele. Each piece of jewelry is entirely crafted by Debra herself from start to finish, using age old traditions such as forging, wax carving, piercing, soldering, and fusing techniques. This makes her jewelry as unique as a fingerprint.
Below, she tells us about her first experience with moissanite, and why she’s still in love with this gem.
I clearly remember the first time I ever laid eyes on a moissanite gemstone.
An old school friend came blazing into the gallery one day, grinning from ear to ear like a deranged Cheshire cat, shoving what appeared to be a whopping great 2 carat diamond ring in my face.
“Look, look! Deb, I’m engaged! Look at my amazing rock!!”
So I am like, “Wow, did you marry a millionaire or something whilst you were living in L.A?”
“Nope, it’s a moissanite!! It’s NOT a diamond – is it not totally fabulous?”
Now I was really interested –a moissawhat?
Thus began a lot of research and the start of a long term love affair with moissanite by Charles & Colvard®.
I purchased my first two moissanite stones nearly eight years ago (one for myself and one to trial in my designs). I still wear that first-ever moissanite ring and like to consider myself a bit of a pioneer for moissanite in New Zealand, or as you might call it, “Down Under.”
So, why do I love moissanite so much?
As a jeweler who creates everything by hand from the first design to the finished piece (I am not just the “designer” who draws pretty pictures and then hands it over to someone else to do all the dirty work!), I need a gemstone that is easy to work with and set into my designs, whether it be a bezel set beauty, or a modern take on the classic halo ring. I have many repeat customers worldwide and a reputation to uphold, and I know I can give my customers assurance that the moissanite stones I use can go the distance, take some knocks, and still look great over time. This is especially important since I specialize in custom-made engagement and wedding rings, and New Zealanders (or “Kiwis”) can be notorious hard on their rings!
You see, Kiwis tend to enjoy getting outdoors, pursuing things like hiking in the mountains, playing weekend sports, or going Hobbit Hunting in their spare time (ok, I am joking – the Hobbit Hunting is a lie). However, we are a nature-loving, practical kind of people.
My customers tend to need a gemstone that can take a bit of rough and tumble use over the years, and while there are some beautiful gemstones in the world, many are simply not suitable for heavy everyday wear.
There are of course other obvious reasons for choosing moissanite. Moissanite costs far less than diamond, but sparkles more! You get so much more “bang for your buck” with moissanite.
And let us not forget that moissanite is ethically produced! New Zealand has always been an ethical country, and we are famous for saying No to nuclear power back in the 90s. We are passionate about the environment and have been for generations. My gold is mined from a small boutique mine on the West Coast of New Zealand with very strict practices. I only use gemstones from reputable dealers and fair trade diamonds from Australia and New Zealand.
It has become somewhat of a revelation that now I can offer an alternative to diamonds for my customers. Discovering moissanite has had an enormous impact on my work.
Don’t get me wrong – I still adore diamonds, but I sometimes squirm when I have to give out quotes. Diamond prices just seem so ridiculously expensive! If I myself could not fathom paying $25,000 for a good quality one-carat rock, how on earth could I feel comfortable selling one? Plus, I am fanatical about only selling quality, which meant I wanted my customers to wear GOOD diamonds (not some heavily included yellow bit of carbon). As you can imagine, this can come with a hefty price.
After eight years, my moissanite engagement ring still looks as good as the day I created it; it still fools most people, who tend to think it is one seriously large diamond. I am happy I chose moissanite over diamond, because every time I look at it I recall the wonderful island holiday we went on with all the money saved from NOT purchasing that diamond. Personally, those family memories will always be far more precious than anything of material value.
In New Zealand, moissanite is still very much in its infancy but I have a feeling it won’t be too long before its mainstream.
PLEASE Charles & Colvard® can you make a Tanzanite and a Padparadscha**-coloured moissanite for me!
*Debra Fallowfield Jewellers designs are strictly protected under New Zealand copyright laws. Except as provided by the Copyright Act 1994, no part of this publication may be reproduced or stored in a retrieval system in any form or by any means without the prior written permission of the copyright owner.