Cubic Zirconia – Can it be The Diamond Alternative?

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In fact, yes, it can. We all know that diamonds are girls’ best friends and Cubic Zirconia is the Diamond best friend. Learn in my guide what Cubic Zirconia stone is and how it is compared to diamond.

Beautiful…Inexpensive…Easy to Care for

CZ stone Ring - Imitation of rare orange diamond

In Brief

Cubic Zirconia is well known as the best and the most realistic substitute for diamond, due to its high hardness and great fire.  But in recent years, it has established itself as a gorgeous gem in its own right. CZ is a beautiful synthetic gemstone that is durable and inexpensive and now even comes in any colour of the rainbow, making it even more desirable.

How CZ Is Compared TO a Diamond

To the untrained eye, Cubic Zirconia looks identical to a good quality diamond, but CZ has slightly less brilliance or sparkle than a diamond and more fire or flashes of colour. The overall effect is so similar that it can even fool a trained gemmologist on occasion. One of the main differences between Cubic Zirconia and diamond is weight: CZ is about 75% heavier than diamond.  A piece of CZ the same size as a one carat diamond weighs about 1.75 carats.  CZ is also more brittle than diamond and softer. Cubic Zirconia is also flawless, whereas diamond usually contains impurities and inclusions.

A Bit Of History

Cubic Zirconia was discovered in its natural state in 1937 by two German mineralogists, von Stackelberg and Chudoba.  It was in a highly metamict zircon given to them by B.W. Anderson.  The zircon contained tiny crystals that were determined to be the cubic form of zirconium oxide by x-ray diffraction. The crystal had been known by several different names and the trade name "Djevalite” was one of the most common ones. However, CZ was not well-known till the 1980's when Swarovski & Co., a world-renowned Austrian manufacturer of leaded crystal, began producing Cubic Zirconia for mass consumption.

Cubic Zirconia Physical And Chemical Properties

  • Cubic Zirconia is a cubic form of zirconium oxide that is created in a laboratory, thus it is not a mineral.
  • The mineral with the same chemical composition as CZ, but in the monoclinic crystal system, is baddeleyite.
  • Cubic zirconia has a hardness of 8.5 on Moh's Scale of Hardness and a white streak.
    It has a specific gravity between 5.65 and 5.95, and a density between 5.5 and 5.9.
  • The refractive index of CZ is between 2.088 and 2.176, which is very high.
  • Since CZ is transparent, it is often faceted.  It can be made in nearly any colour and can be faceted into many cuts.
  • Cubic Zirconia is an oxide of the metallic element zirconium, ZrO 2.  
    Most CZ is about 87.5% zirconium oxide and 12.5% yttrium oxide. Though these compounds are both opaque, white ores, they melt together to form an amazing clear crystal.

Care for your CZ Jewellery

CZ stones are very easy to look after and do not require any special jewellery cleaners. Cubic Zirconia can be cleaned with any conventional jewellery cleaner or detergent.You may also use a small brush to clean off the dirt.It will not harm the stone due to its hardness and durability.

However, when using soaps or detergents to clean CZ, one should wipe the jewellery dry thoroughly to avoid residue from the soap leaving a film that will dull the brilliance of the stone.  Cubic Zirconia should be cleaned frequently to remove oils from skin that also dull the brilliance of the gem.
Try to use perfume and hairspray before putting your CZ jewellery on to prolong the time before cleanings.

This beautiful Flower pendant which is made of sterling silver and set with white CZ stones is a good example of diamond being substituted by Cubic Zirconia

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