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Cubic Zirconia vs. Diamond: What’s the Difference?

In the cubic zirconia vs diamond match, diamonds are the clear winner. When examining both stones under natural light, diamonds show a dazzling bright light (often referred to as a diamond’s fire or brilliance) while cubic zirconia flashes a much more synthetic rainbow effect. Diamonds also have a much higher refractive index and lower dispersion rate than cubic zirconia.

It’s undeniable, though, that diamonds come at a premium price per carat. So, while diamonds may be the prettier and more valuable choice, cubic zirconia is a decent diamond alternative that is incredibly affordable.

Read on to learn more about the differences between diamonds vs cubic zirconia.

How to Quickly Tell the Difference Between Cubic Zirconia and Diamonds

The best way to figure out if a stone is cubic zirconia or diamond is to use your naked eye. Examine the light that emanates from it – a diamond gives off brilliant white light while cubic zirconia will give off a noticeable rainbow of colored light. Cubic zirconia’s rainbow hues look a lot more similar to moissanite, another diamond alternative.

Another way to tell the difference between cubic zirconia vs diamond is to feel how heavy it is. Diamonds are much more heavy than cubic zirconia, so they should feel weighty when resting in your palm.

If the stone doesn’t have any inclusions or blemishes, it’s likely cubic zirconia. It’s extremely rare for diamonds to be completely flawless, so the too-good-to-be-true test is always a good idea.

If your stone has any scratches, it’s cubic zirconia. Diamonds are extremely durable and won’t scratch unless cut professionally.

What Is Cubic Zirconia?

Cubic Zirconia, also known as CZs, are manufactured gemstones that look similar to diamonds. They are colorless gemstones made up of a crystalline form of zirconium dioxide. Most CZs are clear or white. However, their natural colorlessness allows manufacturers to color them with coloring agents.

Is a Cubic Zirconia Real?

Although Cubic Zirconia gemstones are artificial, they are real stones. But they are not real diamonds, which are naturally-occurring, carbon-based gems.

Nevertheless, CZs do occur in nature, albeit rarely. They are sometimes found within zircon, a natural stone with high reflective properties. They also appear in tiny amounts within baddeleyite, a mineral found in black, yellow, brown, and colorless varieties.

In its natural form, the minute crystals in cubic zirconia are unstable stones that decompose quickly into other crystalline structures.

How Is Cubic Zirconia Made?

Every lab makes its CZs a little bit differently. However, making cubic zirconia gems requires hours of extremely high heat and zirconium oxide powder.

Lab technicians melt pure zirconium oxide powder with calcium and magnesium, minerals that act as stabilizers. The mixture is heated at 4,298 degrees Fahrenheit for hours until isotropic crystals form. Afterward, the crystals can be cut, shaped, and polished.

Cubic Zirconia vs Diamond: What’s the Difference?

Although the two stones appear almost the same at a quick glance, there are a few essential differences and elements to consider, including:

Cubic Zirconia vs Diamond: Composition

CZs are made from the mineral zirconium dioxide and have a hardness of 8.25 to 8.50. CZs stabilized with Yttria are softer than CZs stabilized with calcium oxide.

On the other hand, diamonds are 99.95% carbon. The carbon deposits lie approximately 100 miles below the earth’s surface, subjected to extreme pressure and high temperatures before becoming the coveted colorless gemstone. Diamonds have a hardness scale of 10 on the Mohs scale, making them the hardest known natural gemstone.

Cubic Zirconia vs Diamond: Appearance

At first glance, it is difficult to tell the difference between a cubic zirconia stone and a diamond. However, cubic zirconia is generally less brilliant and reflective than a natural diamond. Under natural light, CZs give off rainbow light dispersions, while diamonds give off white light.

Diamonds also have subtle imperfections that affect their clarity and color. These imperfections occur because they form in the earth from natural minerals. They are subject to inclusions like air bubbles and feathers or internal stress fractures, which can cause cloudiness.

As diamond stimulants, CZs are created from pure minerals and under precise conditions. This process allows for the final stones to be entirely free of imperfections.

Cubic Zirconia vs Diamond: Cost

The cost difference between diamonds and cubic zirconia is significant, diamonds are considerably more expensive than cubic zirconia stones. The average size of a diamond engagement ring is between 1 and 2 carats. Although cut, clarity, and the setting are significant factors in the jewelry’s final price, a 1-carat natural diamond will cost anywhere from $1,800 to $12,000.

On the other hand, a 1-carat cubic zirconia stone costs around $20. Despite their initial cheap upfront cost, cubic zirconia’s inexpensive price tag has downsides. This diamond stimulant has no resale or market value. A diamond will retain at least 50% of its initial value, which makes it a beautiful heirloom to pass down through generations.

How Long Does Cubic Zirconia Last?

Cubic zirconia is considerably less durable than a real diamond. They can be worn daily for between 2 to 3 years and up to 5 years if someone wears them occasionally.

As cubic zirconia stones age, they tend to become scratched and cloudy. Exposure to dirt, oxygen, chlorine, and water will speed up the aging process and increase the likelihood of damaging the stone.

How to Take Care of Cubic Zirconia

Caring for a cubic zirconia stone is necessary and simple. Keeping it clean requires mild dish soap, warm water, and a soft-bristled toothbrush. Mix a tablespoon of dish soap into a bowl of warm water and dip the CZ jewelry in it to coat the stone. Then, take the toothbrush and gently scrub the jewelry to remove dirt and hard water stains.

Once the stone is clean, rinse off the soap with clean, cool water to remove any soapy residue. Then, pat the jewelry dry with a clean rag or towel.

Regularly and carefully cleaning your cubic zirconia jewelry will help it last as long as possible.

Are Lab Grown Diamonds the Same as Cubic Zirconia?

No. Cubic zirconia stones are synthetic but are not the same as lab grown diamonds. The difference is that cubic zirconia stones are diamond stimulants rather than lab created diamonds.

Lab created diamonds are also synthetic diamonds. However, these stones consist of carbon atom structures, just like diamonds. A lab-created diamond is also grown under conditions that mirror the needs of a natural diamond. This method gives them an optical and physical look similar to natural diamonds.

Lab grown diamonds are almost impossible to differentiate from natural diamonds. They can come in white or colorless hues, as well as pink, yellow, orange, and blue. They will also vary in clarity and cut.

Cubic zirconia stones do not have the same chemical composition, brilliance, or reflective properties as lab created diamonds. Because of their flawless, specific heat conditions, CZs are not as unique as lab created diamonds.

Both cubic zirconia and lab-created diamonds are more affordable than natural diamonds. They can also be insured, although the value will differ drastically between the two gemstones.

Final Thoughts

It’s important to know the differences between cubic zirconia vs diamond so you can make an informed choice about which to purchase. While they are both interesting and beautiful items, diamonds retain much more sparkle and value. If you are concerned about conflict when considering purchasing a diamond, check out our beyond conflict free commitment.

If you already have a stone and you are unsure if it is cubic zirconia or diamond, try inspecting it with what we’ve discussed today in mind. It’ll always be best to bring it in to a reputable jeweler to have it tested, though, so make sure to confirm with a profesh!

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