5 Minutes With ... Alana Chang Weirick & Lauren Chang Sommer, Moi Moi

A couple of years ago I discovered Moi Moi a unique jewellery store in Sydney's Queen Victoria Building and was introduced to their signature jewel Moissanite, described as the most brilliant jewel in the world which contains It has more brilliance, fire and lustre than any other jewel including diamond. Sound too good to be true? Of course it does - but Moissanite truly is amazing. Moissanite is the best diamond alternative for fine jewellery and offers fantastic value for money. 

Since launching in Australia in 2004, Moi Moi jewellery designs have been seen on celebrities including Erin McNaught, Sami Lukas, Erika Heynatz, Layne Beachley, Lara Bingle, Jessica Gomes, Natalie Bassingthwaite, Kate Ritchie, Delta Goodrem and Ricki-Lee Coulter... that's an impressive star-studded following! 

Stunning sister duo Lauren Chang Sommer, 33, and Alana Chang Weirick, 31, are not just pretty faces, they are really hands-on, involved in every aspect of their business and each hold a degree. From the moment you enter Moi Moi you can be sure that Alana or Lauren will be there to greet you and find time to have a chat. While Moissanite is the core of their business, Moi Moi also exclusively stocks the largest range of enamel jewellery available in the country, Miabelle. With an exciting new-look website and the recent appointment of Moi Moi ambassador Marijana Radmanovic, we could not wait to see what else is new. As usual Lauren and Alana were only too happy to discuss all things Moi Moi...

-What is Moissanite and how different is it to diamonds?
Moissanite is a unique jewel with more brilliance, fire and lustre than any jewel including diamond. It’s a fraction of the cost as well, generally 90% less than a diamond of the same quality. It’s different in these ways and also because it is a different mineral – Silicon Carbide, whereas diamond is Carbon.

-If you were to place two identical rings before someone made from the two different materials, could you detect the difference?
It’s very difficult for even trained jewellers to sometimes distinguish between Moissanite and Diamond. We had a customer recently who took his Moissanite ring to a valuer for insurance purposes, and the valuation certificate came back being graded as a diamond. Of course this shouldn’t happen, jewellers and gemmologists should be able to tell the difference under magnification, but many experts still have trouble. So no, you cannot tell the difference with the naked eye between a Mossanite ring and a diamond ring of the same quality.

-You introduced Moissanite to the Australian market in 2004 with your boutique jewellery store, Moi Moi. How did you discover the stone?
Lauren:  I was looking to buy some earrings for my wedding in 2004.  The only options I could find were either diamond which were between $10,000 to $20,000, or cubic zirconia which were less than $100. I wanted something that was in between. It had to be good quality that would last forever, but I wasn’t prepared to spend so much. Then my father bought some earrings for my mother whilst they were traveling overseas. It was Moissanite, it was beautiful and it was exactly what I was looking for.  I set out to find some in Australia and realised that even though Moissanite was available in more than 70 countries, it had not yet reached Australia. It was a quick decision. I called Alana and we decided together that it was a good opportunity and we had to get onto it straight away.  With no experience in jewellery or retail, we opened our QVB store in Sydney just 5 months after first discovering the stone in time for Christmas trading. My earrings cost $1,000 and I’ve worn them 24/7 for 8 years!

-You are gorgeous sisters (and an inspiration to aspiring business women). Your mum and dad are also involved in the business. Is it difficult at times?
Thank you! It’s not difficult, we love working together. We all take care of the business in slightly different ways, and bounce off each other well. Perhaps in the first year or two us sisters fought a little, but we’ve learnt to make it work smoothly. Mum and dad are a huge help to the business as well. We are lucky that we all help each other so much and have the same goals for the business.

-When people think of diamonds they think of dollar signs! Has it been a difficult journey to persuade the minds of consumers?
Yes! Our challenge with Moissanite is to bring awareness to a market flooded with diamonds and the idea that a diamond should be THE choice for an engagement ring. Many people were resistant at first to even consider the possibility of an alternative gemstone, but through a consistent education and awareness marketing campaign, we’ve developed a very loyal and strong following. When you see Moissanite for yourself you can understand the appeal. Moissanite is gemmologically more beautiful than a diamond, and the value is undeniable so why wouldn’t you choose Moissanite?!

-What are your current favourite Moi Moi designs?
Alana: My favourite designs change almost every week. Right now, I love a ring called “Delta” (18K White Gold, 1.87ct Moissanite) in our latest collection called The Classique Collection. You are the first to get a sneak peek - it hasn’t been launch yet! Halo rings are so fashionable right now, and this is so delicate in design but substantial in stone size which is always good. The detail underneath the setting is a bit different to other plain halo designs.
Lauren:Katharine II” Pink (18K White Gold, 1.95ct Moissanite, 0.30tcw Created Pink Diamond) is my favourite at the moment.   I love the elegance and simplicity.  It’s a classic design with a modern edge.  It features a 2 carat Moissanite centre stone with two created pink diamonds either side. 

-Which styles are popular with the Moi Moi consumer?
Our best sellers are the “Audrey” rings and the “Isabelle” rings. These are beautifully classic designs, very much like the classic Tiffany & Co. settings. They are timeless designs. We used to sell a lot of 1ct size stones when we first opened the store 8 years ago. Now, we sell mostly 1.50ct-2ct size stones. 

-What bridal trends are hot right now?
Halo rings are a big bridal trend right now.

-Gorgeous model Marijana Radmanovic won your 2012 Face of Moi Moi competition. How did you choose her to represent the business?
Marijana is an absolutely gorgeous girl. Not only is she physically beautiful, she is very sweet, caring and intelligent. It was important for us to have someone like this represent our company. We also liked that her look could be easily related to by many different customers across ages and nationalities.

-What fashion trends do you predict this summer?
Vivid colours are huge this Spring / Summer. To use colour in jewellery is exciting. You can make existing neutral pieces from your wardrobe to be more on trend by adding colourful accessories. 

-Hot or not: mixing white, rose and yellow gold accessories?

-Which celebrity would you most love to see wearing Moi Moi?
A classic beauty, someone like Charlize Theron.

-Lauren & Alana, what makes you feel Spoilt?
Alana: Pedicures always make me feel spoilt. My husband and I love to spoil ourselves by experiencing amazing restaurants.
Lauren: Between work and being a mum to my two young girls, I feel extremely spoilt when I get an hour to myself.  It's such a treat and very precious time which I highly value.

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