If you go to any jewelry store, you’re likely to find many pieces with a gemstone that, at first glance, appears to be diamond. What you’re looking at is cubic zirconia. This stone has become very popular in the last fifty years. It looks much like diamond, but is far cheaper. So, you might be wondering: is cubic zirconia good? Will it hold up to my jewelry quality standards?
Although diamonds are largely considered timeless and many people treasure them, cubic zirconia is pretty serious competition. This gemstone is high quality, long lasting, and so much more affordable than diamonds. Here’s everything you might want to know about cubic zirconia before buying a piece for yourself.
What Is Cubic Zirconia?
Cubic zirconia, sometimes called CZ, is a common lab-made gemstone. It is the crystal form of zirconium dioxide. It’s hard and usually clear, but it can be made in a range of different colors. Because of its look, texture, and price point, cubic zirconia is best known as an alternative to diamonds.
The gemstone was originally developed for use in lasers. When the method for its creation was perfected by Russian scientists in 1973, demand surged all over the world. Global production of cubic zirconia began in 1976.
Since then, it has been the biggest competitor to the diamond industry. Today, 12 tonnes of cubic zirconia are produced each year. It comes in a range of qualities, ranked from A (the lowest quality) to AAAAA (the highest quality).
Sometimes cubic zirconia is called imitation diamond or faux diamond. However, this label wrongly implies that cubic zirconia is a cheap knock-off. There is nothing wrong with buying cubic zirconia jewelry. It is strong, stunning, and is only “bad” when sold under the guise that it is diamond.
How Is Cubic Zirconia Made?
It differs a little from lab to lab. Usually, cubic zirconia is made by heating zirconium oxide powder at around 4982ºF. To help the crystals form, chemicals such as yttrium, magnesium or calcium are mixed in. After hours at such high heat, crystals begin to take shape. Once they have become stable, they are removed, cut and polished.
How Close Is It To Diamond?
Although the two gemstones look quite similar, the similarities do end there.
Diamonds are currently the hardest substance known to man. On the Mohs hardness scale, they score a 10/10. Cubic zirconia, although heavier than diamond, only gets an 8.5.
After awful working conditions in diamond mines were exposed to the public, many people boycotted diamonds in favor of lab-grown stones. Diamonds were also shown to be far less rare than their great marketing had made them out to be. Many people realized there wasn’t much point paying so much for gemstones that aren’t very rare.
However, because diamonds are natural whereas cubic zirconia is not, you can see some differences between them. Many people love how diamonds have tiny imperfections within the stone. No diamond is perfectly the same as another. However, cubic zirconia is crystal clear. Because it is lab made, it looks less organic than diamonds.
Many jewelers and specialists can tell between the two gemstones by how they react when held up to light. A diamond gives off a strong white light, called brilliance. Cubic zirconia is not as bright, and gives off a rainbow.
Last but not least, the main difference is price. Let’s say you have a high quality piece of nice cubic zirconia that is worth about $20. For the same size diamond, you would be paying around $1,500. That’s a huge price gap, and is some of the best appeal for cubic zirconia.
While they do look similar from afar, you cannot deny the differences between cubic zirconia and diamonds.
Is Cubic Zirconia As Good As Diamond?
It depends on what you care about when you buy jewelry. From a purely financial standpoint, cubic zirconia is not very good. If you tried to sell a piece of cubic zirconia, you would barely get anything for it.
You also can’t deny that diamonds do have a certain charm to them. Although not rare, they would make a lovely family heirloom because they are a unique and natural gemstone. They’re still widely considered to be timeless. Even so, it is key to remember that diamonds are one of the most overpriced items in the world. It has become well-known that they are not worth the money.
Many people are turning away from diamonds because they aren’t as rare or special as their price point would make them out to be. The mining process is also often unethical, which is a growing concern.
Is Cubic Zirconia Good As A Material For Jewelry?
So, what’s the bottom line? If you’re wondering if cubic zirconia is good, then the answer is yes. It is strong, durable, looks great, and is high quality. It is excellent value for money. However, there are some things to bear in mind.
If you want to give jewelry as a gift, remember that many people value the rarity of the piece. When giving jewelry for a special event, it is best to go for something precious. You could opt for a more valuable and rare gemstone than cubic zirconia. It doesn’t have to be diamond.
Another great option is to go for cubic zirconia set into a precious metal such as gold, silver or rhodium. This adds shine and flair to the piece, while keeping it valuable and not breaking the bank!