Why Should You Buy Diamond Jewellery Rather Than Cubic Zirconia?
We love brilliant, sparkling gems; that is why diamonds are the favourite gem in jewellery. Great gems, pity about the price. Enter Cubic Zirconia (CZ) as an alternative brilliant sparkling gem at a fraction of a natural diamond’s cost. Cubic Zirconia are sold as imitation diamonds; they are not the real thing.
Cubic Zirconia is a man-made gem consisting of zirconium dioxide in crystalline form. Although cubic zirconia can be found naturally, it is rare, and all CZ jewellery is made from the synthetic version. CZ gems can be cut into the same shapes as diamonds, mimicking their effect even further.
Cubic Zirconia was first created in 1892 and was not, at the time, thought to exist in nature. In 1937 CZ was discovered in its natural form as microscopic grains. It was not until 1976 that it became possible to create jewellery sized CZ crystals economically, at which time it became the primary alternative to natural diamond in jewellery. Today, there are several commercially viable processes for creating CZ, but there is no difference between them in price or quality.
CZ is vastly cheaper than diamond, at around 5% of the price of a similar-sized diamond. Unlike a diamond which is easy to sell, albeit often at a loss, CZ is worthless at resale. Set in jewellery, the silver or gold (if used) will be worth more than the cubic zirconia gem, no matter what size it might be.
Cubic Zirconia And Diamond Compared
If a sparkling gem is a goal, is there any good reason to buy a diamond rather than a Cubic Zirconia? Let us look at the two and make some comparisons.
CZ was created as a substitute for diamond. CZ is hard, measuring around 8.5 on the Mohs hardness scale, while diamond comes in at 10, the hardest known natural material.
Most diamonds are natural, although there are simulants available. As a natural product, it is normal for even the best diamonds to have some microscopic flaws, and cheaper stones can have visible defects. CZ is flawless, without any inclusions.
CZ is more brittle than diamond making it less durable in day to day wear. A diamond is forever, but a CZ gem can be expected to chip, scratch and eventually look dull and shabby when worn daily. While it is the case that a CZ has some durability, over time, the blemishes it will pick up through normal wear will make the crystal appear cloudy and dull.
The best diamonds are those that have no colour. Most diamonds have a yellow or brown hint that ranges from almost invisible to a quite noticeable tint. CZ is entirely colourless unless the manufacturer chooses to add colour by adding various metal oxides to create a range of hues.
CZ is a denser material than diamond so, at any given size of gem, the CZ will weigh about 1.7 times as much as the diamond.
When a diamond is cut to create the facets that reflect light and create the magical sparkle, the cuts’ edges will always be clearly defined. With CZ, the facets are cut similarly to diamonds. The edges of the cuts are rounded at all the facet junctions. This effect cannot be seen with the naked eye but can be clearly seen using a 10x magnification jewellers’ loupe.
Some jewellery sellers have been known to refer to CZ as a type of synthetic diamond; this is not true. A diamond is chemically different, always formed from carbon, and so a CZ crystal can never be a form of a diamond.
Can You Tell Cubic Zirconia And Diamond Apart?
Many CZ jewellery sellers and their clients claim that it is tough to tell CZ and diamond apart; this is not true. While CZ crystals can look beautiful, especially if placed in a good quality setting, there are some distinct differences when you know what to look for.
- The best way to tell a diamond from a CZ is by looking at both gems’ sparkle. A CZ will show all the colours of the rainbow, creating a fiery effect. A clear diamond will always sparkle with white. Many people like the multicolour effect of a CZ crystal.
- A test to tell CZ from diamond is to breathe on them both at the same time. The condensation from your breath will vanish from the diamond before it goes from the cubic zirconia because the diamond has higher thermal conductivity.
- Most CZ jewellery is mounted into very cheap settings made of low-grade metals. The quality of the setting will usually be lower than for even the most inexpensive natural diamond jewellery.
Should You Buy A Cubic Zirconia Rather Than A Diamond?
The only good reason to buy jewellery with cubic zirconia is that you want to buy something sparkly and cheap. Because it is less durable and wears out, it is unsuitable for engagement rings. Of course, most women would be very unhappy to receive a CZ engagement ring.
If you try to pass off CZ jewellery as diamond, people will likely notice. The fiery nature of the sparkle of CZ will give the game away, and the overall lack of sparkle compared to diamond will confirm the falsehood.
Remember that although a diamond is rarely a good investment, CZ is virtually worthless as soon as it has been purchased.
Only Buy Cubic Zirconia For Costume Jewellery
Apart from price, there is no reason to buy a piece of CZ jewellery. No good is likely to come of a piece of cubic zirconia jewellery purchased as an emotionally loaded gift!
If the price is a critical factor leading you to consider buying a cubic zirconia engagement ring or other emotionally connected gifts, consider a synthetic diamond as an alternative. There is no practical difference between an excellent synthetic diamond and a natural one. The purchase price will be lower, and you can expect a synthetic diamond to last as long as an earth-mined natural diamond. Only you and your loved one need ever know the difference!