Cubic Zirconia vs Diamond

Cubic Zirconia

With the economy in its current state, few young couples can afford the luxury of a diamond. This has given rise to an industry of diamond alternatives.

One of the most affordable alternatives to diamonds is the cubic zirconia which was made famous by Swarovski. These crystals are extremely close in appearance to a real diamond but can be purchased at a fraction of the cost.

If you are looking for a brilliant and dependable alternative to a diamond that is difficult to discern through the naked eye alone, then the cubic zirconia is precisely what you are looking for.

Join us on this journey of discovery and see for yourself how cubic zirconia ultimately holds up to a diamond.

Difference Between Diamonds and Cubic Zirconia

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The most significant difference between a diamond and cubic zirconia is that diamonds can occur naturally, whereas cubic zirconia is always lab-created. Furthermore, the two stones stand on different spots on the Mohs scale.

Diamonds measure the full 10/10, while cubic zirconia only measures at an eight. Diamonds are undeniably the hardest material on earth, but that should not deter you from wearing your cubic zirconia daily. Any stone that measures above seven on the scale is suitable for daily wear. Just be aware that the cubic zirconia is more likely to scratch, so take it off when cleaning or bathing.

Cubic zirconia is slightly denser than a diamond. A diamond has a refractive index of 2.42, while cubic zirconia only has a refractive index of around 2.15 to 2.18. The much lower refractive index, however, has minimal effect on optical properties. The thing that will actually affect what the stone looks like and how it reacts to white light is its dispersion rate. Cubic zirconia has a much higher dispersion rate than diamonds, which means it has more “fire”.

Cubic zirconia is almost 90 times cheaper than a diamond as it can be mass-produced and requires exponentially fewer resources to come by. Cubic zirconia does not require a grading scale as a diamond would. Because they are lab-grown, the quality is almost always perfect.

Cubic zirconia is much more environmentally friendly than natural diamonds. Diamond mines cause immense damage to the environment. The biggest environmental concern with the production of cubic zirconia is the heat requirement sometimes being fulfilled through burning fossil fuels.

Lastly, cubic zirconia might become cloudy over time and needs to be cleaned far more often than a diamond. Diamonds also have higher thermal conductivity than a cubic zirconia, so it might be best to remove your cubic zirconia jewelry when working in the oven or by the stove. Extreme heat can damage the stone.

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Diamond Engagement Ring

As we discussed in a previous article, the diamond engagement ring is a relatively new concept that was heavily marketed by De Beers Consolidated Mines, Ltd in the mid-1900s.

Before this ad campaign, engagement rings were primarily reserved for the rich and upper-classes and even then sported rubies or sapphires as their stone of choice. It was only around the 1950s that the diamond ring became the standard for engagements.

When purchasing diamonds, many people get stuck on carat size, even though that is only one of a diamond’s facets. If you are on the diamond side of the line in the cubic zirconia vs. diamond discussion, then you might see cubic zirconia as little more than cut glass. It is not even weighed in carats. But that is not an entirely fair distinction between the two gemstones.

Cubic Zirconia Engagement Ring

In today’s society, views are slowly beginning to shift once again. While natural diamonds are still the style icon of choice for many couples, some are engaging in more adventurous practices. Other precious and semi-precious stones are rising in popularity, and many are seeking more affordable options.

The reality is that the economy is not currently in a position where many couples in their 20s can afford natural diamonds. Even synthetic diamonds are over the price point for some people.

A lot of the reason why mined diamonds are far more sought after these days is because of the symbolism connected to them. Something that was formed 200km beneath the earth’s surface, pushed up by a volcano and then mined somewhere in an exotic land, processed with the greatest care to finally end up on your finger seems like quite the fairytale.

Lab-created diamonds, while lacking some the symbolism, are still somehow more closely connected to this concept. When we look at cubic zirconia engagement rings, the symbolism is entirely missing. To such an extent, in fact, many people equate the cubic zirconia with “fakeness” and insincerity.

This is undoubtedly an unfair discrimination against these dazzling but affordable CZ stones. They are not only a more conscientious purchase in terms of cost, but you can also rest assured that the impact on the environment is far less than a natural diamond, and there is no chance of a cubic zirconia stone causing as much strife as conflict diamonds.

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Where Do Cubic Zirconia Stones Come From?

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Initially, there was a diamond simulant stone similar to cubic zirconia made in Russia and sold as Djevalite, but this was an economic failure. Later, Swarovski made their own formula and made a commercial success of what is now known as cubic zirconia.

Swarovksi has made an enormous success of cubic zirconia stones and has made them a real alternative to diamond jewelry. As for what cubic zirconia actually is? It is one of only a handful of synthetic stones that are considered diamond simulants. They are the cubic crystalline form of zirconium dioxide. They are made by introducing extreme heat that melts the zirconium oxide to create a brilliant CZ stone for sparkling jewelry pieces.

Cubic Zirconia Versus Diamond

While there are some fundamental differences between diamonds and cubic zirconia, there are also stark similarities that we should not ignore.

Most importantly is that both a diamond and a cubic zirconia measure high on the hardness scale, meaning that they are suitable for everyday wear. Diamonds are often set in precious metals like gold and platinum, whereas cubic zirconias are more often set in something like sterling silver which still offers the dazzle of white gold or platinum if kept clean and cared for properly but are more durable and affordable.

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Cubic Zirconia vs. Colored Diamonds

Furthermore, both stones have the option of being colorless or colored.

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Some colorless diamonds are more affordable than their colorless diamond cousins, but few are completely natural as the colors are caused by inclusions. This leads many jewelers to heat treat colored diamonds in order to improve their color.

The concept of the color diamond is not very well understood, and many people tend to question whether they are “real diamonds”. While we can confirm that they are, in fact, real, we must also confess that most colored diamonds have been heat-treated, especially the highly mysterious but much more affordable black diamonds.

A cubic zirconia stone, however, can easily be made to have many different colors. Because cubic zirconia is made of synthetic material, it is easier to manipulate the chemical composition to create the desired color effects. Artificial stones are also often very near perfect in terms of clarity because they can be made without any inclusions.

Cubic Zirconia vs. Diamonds vs. Moissanite

When it comes to diamond alternatives, one of the most famous options remains the moissanite stone. These stones are also steeped in mystery and, for a long time, were mistaken for diamonds before technology allowed us to take a closer look.

While moissanite is extremely rare, it is far less expensive than diamonds and has a very similar Mohs rating of between 9.25 and 9.5, making it harder than cubic zirconia. Moissanite is also a naturally occurring gemstone, although many believe it to be from outer space.

A moissanite stone of the same carat weight as a diamond will be far more affordable and almost equally as durable as a real diamond. The only thing that really seems to affect the opinion of moissanite is what it does to natural light. Where a diamond, be it a “real diamond” or a lab-grown diamond, will play with light to some extent, but moissanite has a far higher dispersion rate. While this might sound attractive, many people compare it to a disco-ball effect and find it to be a little too intense.

This also makes it easier to spot the difference between a diamond and a moissanite. Cubic zirconia is far harder to distinguish from diamonds through the naked eye alone. Therefore, the differences between diamond, cubic zirconia, and moissanite as the kind of thing that each individual person should consider for themselves before deciding whether a cubic zirconia ring is the best alternative to diamonds, or whether they prefer something else.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is cubic zirconia real?

Cubic zirconia is a gemstone but does not occur naturally. So it is appropriate to say that a cubic zirconia is a real gemstone but not a natural gemstone.

Where can I buy cubic zirconia jewelry?

Many retailers sell the stones, the most popular being Swarovski. When you make a purchase, make sure that the dealer is reputable and has good aftersales service should you have questions or there be a problem with your jewelry later down the line.

Are lab-grown diamonds the same as cubic zirconia?

No, lab-grown diamonds are still real diamonds where cubic zirconia are diamond simulants.

What is cubic zirconia worth?

Cubic zirconia jewelry is fairly inexpensive, especially when you look at the prices of cubic zirconia vs. diamonds. You will also notice that CZ is often set in metals like sterling silver which also affects the overall cost. It is difficult for us to give an exact price now as the prices of gemstones and jewelry fluctuate a lot with the economy. It is best to contact a cubic zirconia dealer directly to get the latest information on prices.

Are cubic zirconia made from carbon atoms?

No, they are made from zirconium oxide.


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