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What Is Cubic Zirconia: Comparing CZ to Diamond

What Is Cubic Zirconia?


As jewelers, we’re often asked about cubic zirconia, especially since many of the options on our online jewelry boutique feature cubic zirconia stones. Cubic zirconia is an affordable synthetic stone comparable in shine and overall appearance to a diamond.

Most commonly referred to as CZ, cubic zirconia is a synthesized crystalline stone that has been manufactured synthetically. It is optically flawless, colorless and hard.

Is Cubic Zirconia Fake?


A popular question seems to be whether cubic zirconia is real. Cubic zirconia is manufactured – it is manmade. It does not exist in nature naturally like a diamond. Diamonds are lauded because they are naturally occurring substances that take years and a significant amount of pressure to form and cultivate.

Cubic Zirconia vs. Diamond


However, cubic zirconia has been the diamond’s most significant “competitor” for several decades because CZ is a stone with a similar flawless brilliance. Despite cubic zirconia’s synthetic nature, it can light up a room with its dazzling sparkle much like a diamond! Cubic zirconia can also be cut in similar shapes and designs as popular diamond types. It can also be easily manufactured in a variety of stunning colors. In fact, most people can’t tell the difference between the two.

Other more specific differences are: Hardness: On the Mohs hardness scale, diamonds have a rating of 10 and CZ has a rating of eight. Refractive index: Diamonds have a refractive index of 2.42 and CZ has an index of 2.15 to 2.18. Color: CZ stones are clear and flawless enough to rate a D on the diamond scale. Most diamonds have either a brown or a yellow tinge to them – only the rarest and subsequently more expensive are truly colorless with diamonds.

In addition to its physical similarities, cubic zirconia stones are especially popular as a very affordable alternative to expensive diamonds.

Recognized for its brilliant sparkle, today CZ has become a chic, less expensive stone.

Cubic Zirconia vs. Cubic Zirconium


Similar sounding but not quite the same, cubic zirconium is actually a completely different element – it’s a silvery white metal. Cubic zirconium may be ground down to a powdered form and combined with other elements to create cubic zirconia. However, the structure of each is different. Cubic zirconia is crystalline zirconium dioxide, ZnO2. Cubic zirconium is another name for the gemstone zircon – crystalline zirconium silicate, ZrSiO4. “Cubic” refers to the crystal symmetry while “zircon” and “zirconium” refer to the chemical composition.

What is the Value of Cubic Zirconia?


Much like a diamond, the value of a cubic zirconia is determined by the following factors:

  • Cut
  • Color
  • Carat (stone size
  • Clarity

The price of CZ is just a fraction of the cost of a diamond. As an example, a one-carat, hand-cut, hand-polished cubic zirconia gemstone can retail for less than $20 dollars, and a single carat diamond with decent cut, color and clarity grades can retail for $1,500 dollars. While prices differ from store to store, its common knowledge that CZ jewelry is a much more affordable option, especially for every day wear!

Still have questions about cubic zirconia? Contact the Sterling Star! We’re always happy to help and answer any of your questions.