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Cubic Zirconia (CZ) versus Real Diamond, how do they compare?

Round Diamond Cut to show Dazzling Sparkle

You'll see the term 'CZ' everywhere on jewellery nowadays (and especially in our store!), but aside from knowing it's a diamond simulant, do you really have any idea what a cubic zirconia crystal is? It might surprise you to learn just how close to diamonds they really are!

Cubic Zirconia is an entirely man-made product renowned for its startling similarity to real diamond. It's almost as hard as diamond, brilliant in its radiance, can be cut to any shape like a diamond, and can even be produced in different diamond colours like pink, black, champagne etc. To the naked eye the cubic zirconia is indistinguishable from the real thing, making it a very popular choice for high-end fashion jewellery and costume jewellery.

The history of Cubic Zirconia

Cubic Zirconia was first discovered in 1892, and began to be produced commercially in 1976 as an affordable diamond alternative. The stones are made by melting powdered zirconium (a silvery white metal) with zirconium dioxide at a very high temperature. The end result is a gem with amazing clarity, flawless in every respect, that can only be determined from real diamond by an experienced jeweller with a special instrument.

What is a Diamond?

The diamond is naturally produced when carbon has been crushed under immense pressure over thousands of years. Only the very rarest have a pure clear colour, most have some 'inclusions' or a yellowish tinge. Diamonds are the hardest naturally occurring substance on Earth and are only found in small areas on the continents of Africa, Asia, North America and Australia. Their supposed rarity, and the dangers posed in their mining, are what make diamonds such a desirable and expensive gemstone.

Cubic Zirconia versus Diamond

In the jewellery world diamonds are the ultimate gem. As Marilyn Monroe famously sang in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, "Diamonds are a girl's best friend", and this ideal still holds true today – especially in the realm of engagement rings where commitment is often measured in carats! But diamonds are very expensive and you have to be super-rich to wear large flawless diamonds as your everyday or bridal jewellery, and that's where cubic zirconia finds its place. So how do diamonds and cubic zirconia compare?

  • Cubic Zirconia is affordable for every budget.

  • Quality Cubic Zirconia is always flawless, and would rate a perfect 'D' on the diamond scale (yes, D is the best rating!). A flawless diamond is incredibly rare.

  • Cubic Zirconia can be made to any carat (size) so you can have a really huge rock on your finger if you want to.

  • You don't need to take out a separate insurance policy for your CZ jewellery!

  • Cubic Zirconia is a very hard substance, but not as hard as diamond. Over time it may be subject to scratching or dulling if worn everyday, so it will need a little TLC in the form of a clean every so often (dishwashing liquid and a soft brush will do). The only thing that can scratch a diamond is ... another diamond!

  • It's easier to get a greater range of colours in Cubic Zirconia by adding different oxides to the production process, but diamonds are only available in the colours nature intended. Yellow tones in diamonds are common, other colours are extremely rare.

So in comparison, are cubic zirconias worth it? Yes! For an affordable diamond alternative in bridal, formal and special occasion jewellery there's no better substitute for a real diamond than cubic zirconia.


Next week: "The Different Types of Clip-On Earring Fastener" Learn about the different closure designs from vintage screw-back to the modern paddle clip and spring clips common today.

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