What is Cubic Zirconia & How Does It Stand Up To Diamonds?

Maybe you’ve thought about it, perhaps you’ve never gotten that curiosity bug about it. You see it all the time in descriptions of your favorite jewelry. CZ stones, CZ gems, etc.  What is it, this CZ? Is it precious? Is it a filler? Is it similar to a diamond? Because it sure looks like one. Well, here at Melroso, we realize you may have questions and are here to answer them. Don’t see your question answered below? Leave a comment or let us know on one of our social media pages and we will surely get the answer to you!

CZ - What is it?

CZ actually is an acronym for cubic zirconia. Cubic zirconia is a cubic crystalline form of zirconium dioxide. Often is is confused with zircon (which is a zirconium silicate) and mislabeled ‘cubic zirconium.’ Cubic zirconia is not a gem found in nature, it is a material synthesized by man. Commercial production of the stone began in 1976 and by 1980 its annual global production was 50 million carats (10 tonnes). Wow! But why?

Cubic zirconia is is usually colorless, but can be manufactured in a variety of colors, it’s hard, it’s optically flawless and is low cost.  Due to its low cost, durability and it’s visual likeness to diamonds, it is often used as a diamond alternative. In fact, unless you are a professional with a trained eye or a special instrument you most likely will not be able to tell the difference between a diamond and a cubic zirconia.

Cubic Zirconia vs Diamonds

Basically, cubic zirconia is a manufactured stone and less expensive while diamonds are naturally occurring and generally quite expensive. However, we’ll go into a bit more detail for you.

Hardness: Diamond has a rating of 10 on the Mohs hardness scale and cubic zirconia has a rating of 8-8.5.

Density: Cubic zirconia is 1.7 times denser than a diamond

Cut: Diamonds and cubic zirconia are generally cut quite differently.

Dispersion: Diamonds have a 0.044 while cubic zirconia is higher at 0.058-0.066.

Thermal conductivity: Diamonds are thermal conductors while cubic zirconia is a thermal insulator. (This difference in thermal conductivity is how special instruments are able to determine between a diamond and cubic zirconia.)

Color: Only the rarest of diamonds are truly colorless; in contrast, cubic zirconia is often entirely colorless. -- Diamonds usually have a natural tinge of yellow or brown. While CZ is often colorless, it is often mixed with other substances to result in a variety of colors. For example, to create a green stone, Chromium is added. Neodymium makes purple, Erbium makes pink and Titanium makes a golden brown.

So while you may be skeptical about the quality of cubic zirconia because of the price difference between it and diamonds, you have no need to be worried about the quality of your jewelry. The only main difference between cubic zirconia and diamonds is that while one is naturally occurring, the other is synthesized and manufactured to meet needs. Diamonds will always be held in higher regards because of this but until your dream jewelry funds are available, you can go for CZ stones and look as classy as ever.

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