Cubic Zirconia vs. Diamonds
A synthetic material made in a laboratory, cubic zirconia is created to mimic the look of a natural diamond. While they may seem somewhat similar from a distance, these gems differ from diamonds in a number of important ways. Here’s a helpful comparison between diamonds and cubic zirconia.
What Is Cubic Zirconia?
Cubic zirconia (CZ) is a type of synthesized material designed to resemble diamonds in a variety of inexpensive jewelry pieces. While it's uncommon, CZ can rarely appear in nature within the natural mineral baddeleyite. In regard to the CZ you see in jewelry, however, the gems are exclusively manufactured in a lab setting.
A cheap diamond alternative, CZ is made by combining zirconium oxide powder and stabilizers such as magnesium and calcium at extreme temperatures reaching nearly 5,000º F. As the material cools, crystals develop and stabilize, creating a jewelry product that can be cut, shaped and polished to mimic a variety of diamond shapes.
What Is a Diamond?
A variety of the element carbon, diamonds look the way they do because their atoms are arranged in a crystal structure known as a diamond cubic. The stone’s characteristic crystal structure and chemical composition make it a distinctive member of the mineral kingdom.
The only gem composed of a single element, diamonds are approximately 99.95% carbon. The remaining 0.05% can include trace elements, which are essentially atoms that are not part of the gem’s essential chemistry. These trace elements will generally influence the diamond’s color or crystal shape.
The world’s hardest naturally occurring substance, diamonds are chemically resistant and have the highest thermal conductivity of any known natural material. They are also the planet’s most popular gemstone. Unlike Cubic Zirconia which is made in a lab, naturally mined diamonds form at extremely high pressures and temperatures that occur 100 miles below the Earth’s surface.
Gem-grade diamonds have a coveted color and clarity that make them ideal for jewelry. These rare diamonds make up only a minor portion of worldwide diamond production.
Diamonds vs. Cubic Zirconia
While it may share a few of the same traits as natural diamonds, Cubic Zirconia is different in several critical ways. Made of synthesized zirconium dioxide, CZ doesn’t have a single carbon diamond bond, which makes it optically, chemically and physically different from both naturally mined or lab-grown diamonds.
On the Mohs Hardness Scale, CZ only ranks 8 to 8.5, while a diamond ranks a perfect 10.
CZ and diamonds also differ significantly in beauty, quality and value. From the perspective of value, CZ is worth very little. When someone tries to resell a CZ ring, they can sometimes retain some value for the actual setting, but the CZ gemstone carries no market value. This fact is reflected in the low cost of CZ, which is just a tiny fraction of the cost of a diamond.
Unlike diamonds which can come in varying degrees of color, CZ is more likely to be completely colorless, which is usually a tell-tale sign it is not an authentic diamond. CZ also has inferior refractive qualities compared to diamonds, which have spectacular sparkle, fire and shine due to the famous 4Cs.
Cubic Zirconia vs. Lab-Grown Diamonds
Just like CZ, lab-grown diamonds are man-made in dedicated facilities. Unlike CZ, however, lab-grown diamonds are identical to naturally mined diamonds in every possible way. Made of pure crystallized carbon, lab-grown diamonds are optically, chemically and physically the same as earth-mined diamonds. Made using specialized technology, they are also made using responsibly sourced raw materials. While the process is complex, the results are breathtaking. Lab-grown diamonds are 100% pure crystallized carbon within the isometric cubic system, the exact same as natural diamonds. As previously stated, CZ has zero carbon bonds, making it optically, chemically and physically different from both naturally mined or lab-grown diamonds.
Regardless of what anyone says, nothing compares to a real diamond gemstone. The cut, the clarity, the scintillating fire. It all combines to create a stunning jewelry piece that attracts attention for all the right reasons. And when a premium-quality diamond is paired with a breathtaking John Atencio setting, it results in a stunning artistic expression of beauty and luxury unlike anything else.
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