The Difference Between Cubic Zirconia and Diamonds

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Hello, all you beaming brides-to-be, gemstone gurus, and trendsetters with a taste for the extraordinary!

You've made it to the Ben Garelick jewelry junction, your one-stop shop for the 4-1-1 on all things shiny and splendid. 

We're diving into the twinkling world of Cubic Zirconia and Diamonds - those glittering pals that sparkle in our store windows. 

Are they really just long-lost twins, or is there more to the story? 

Spoiler alert: they might have as much in common as pearls and popcorn! 

So, buckle up, shine enthusiasts. 

We promise this guide will be as fascinating as a perfectly cut diamond and as fun as finding a golden nugget in your cracker jack box. 

Get ready to add another gem of knowledge to your jewelry box. 

Hold onto your tiaras, folks; it will be a glimmering journey where carats count, and every facet tells a tale. 

What is Cubic Zirconia?

Cubic Zirconia, often called CZ, is the cubic crystalline form of zirconium dioxide. 

Sciencey, we know - But you need to be up on these things!

Primarily synthesized, it's typically colorless but can be created in various hues. It's a common misconception as cubic zirconia should be noted.

It's distinctly different from zircon, a zirconium silicate (We promise the science lab will be over soon!).

Among its distinctive attributes, the hardness of Cubic Zirconia is noteworthy. 

Registering 8–8.5 on the Mohs scale, it's slightly harder than most semi-precious natural gems.

Its high refractive index (2.15–2.18) and vitreous luster make it an impressive diamond simulant.

A remarkable feature of Cubic Zirconia is its manufacturing process.

It's created by heating zirconium oxide and minerals like calcium and magnesium in a metal chamber at nearly 5,000 degrees Fahrenheit.

Following this, the material is cooled, allowing the crystals to form.

Yay, you survived science class and have a few extra gems of knowledge to prove it!

Cubic Zirconia is a cost-effective alternative to diamonds, and since commercial production began in 1976, it's been a significant competitor to diamonds both economically and gemologically. 

While Cubic Zirconia has a close visual resemblance to diamonds, it's crucial to remember that they aren't identical.

For example, while a diamond remains pristine over time, a Cubic Zirconia may become cloudy or dull due to scratches.

While Cubic Zirconia is primarily lab-produced, it's often referred to as a mineral due to its crystalline structure. 

This classification can be controversial as true minerals are naturally occurring, which is rare for Cubic Zirconia. 

Despite this, its affordability, variety of shapes and color options, and impressive sparkle make it a popular choice for fashion and costume jewelry.

Right, shall we talk diamonds?

Diamonds and Cubic Zirconia

Like two glamorous celebrities on the red carpet of a Hollywood premiere, diamonds, and cubic zirconia have seized the spotlight in the glitzy world of jewelry aficionados, twinkling with a charm that leaves admirers starstruck. 

Though they may twinkle with a similar effervescence, these two stars of the jewelry industry have unique traits and quirks that make them stand out in the gemstone lineup. 

With its roots in the laboratory, cubic zirconia parades its budget-friendly allure and uncanny resemblance to a diamond, establishing itself as a sparkling contender among diamond alternatives.

Diamonds versus Cubic Zirconia: Spot the Difference

At first glance, diamonds and cubic zirconia might seem like identical twins due to their striking similarity.

But, if you lean in for a closer look, a world of subtle nuances unfolds before you. 

Like a fine wine, diamonds often bear a delicate tint, a pale whisper of yellow, or the faintest trace of mineral inclusions, proof of their romantic journey from deep within the Earth. 

Cubic zirconia, the crafty impostor, tries to fool you with its immaculate colorlessness, resulting from precision in the lab.

Still, sometimes they give away their secret by reflecting a flicker of orange-hued light, a dead giveaway of their man-made origin.

When diamonds bask in the glow of natural light, they radiate pure, white light, showcasing their organic splendor.

However, better cut diamonds will reflect a rainbow spectrum of color and poorly cut diamonds will show less light reflection altogether.

In contrast, cubic zirconia tends to be a bit of a show-off, scattering light with unrestrained exuberance, casting a dazzling, though slightly suspicious, orange-colored spectacle that sometimes feigns a rainbow. 

This lively sun-light display can indeed be a captivating feature, but it’s like a blinking neon sign declaring, "I'm not a diamond!".

Your best bet? Getting an expert jeweler to inspect the colors to confirm what type of gem you have!

Diamonds and Cubic Zirconia: A Clash of Titans on the Durability Scale

Regarding durability, we're dealing with a heavyweight boxing match between cubic zirconia and diamonds. 

Being the undefeated champion in the ring of nature's hardest minerals, diamonds flaunt a perfect score of 10 on the Mohs hardness scale.

This impressive scorecard signifies unparalleled durability and resilience, making diamonds the equivalent of armored tanks in the jewelry world.

Their sturdy nature is why diamonds are the go-to choice for engagement rings and everyday jewelry, needing only a little tender loving care to maintain their ceaseless radiance.

In the other corner, weighing in at a respectable 8.5 on the Mohs scale, is cubic zirconia.

Though it may hold its own in the durability department, it’s akin to a well-trained boxer against the reigning world champion. 

While cubic zirconia is fairly resilient, it lacks the invincibility of a diamond and is prone to scars of wear and tear.

Over time, cubic zirconia can lose its luster, succumbing to scratches and adopting a clouded appearance, especially if it enters the ring of daily wear. 

So, while it may sparkle like a star in the early rounds, it tends to fade as the fight continues, highlighting why diamonds are indeed a girl's (and boy's) best friend.

Diamonds and Cubic Zirconia: The Battle of the Price Tags

Engaging in the timeless debate of diamonds versus cubic zirconia, there's one arena where the battle lines are drawn more starkly than any other - price. 

The Grand Canyon-like chasm in the cost between the two contenders is indeed a spectacle to behold.

With its wallet-friendly charm, Cubic Zirconia has a significantly lower price tag because it's a product of man's ingenuity, born in the controlled environment of a lab.

It doesn't carry the weight of diamonds' geological odyssey or the economic forces that shape the sparkling diamond market.

Diamonds, the darlings of the gemstone world, command a princely sum for their role on the grand stage of life's most cherished moments.

These precious gems, especially those unearthed from the depths of Mother Earth, are priced at a premium, a testament to their scarcity and the painstaking ballet of natural processes that sculpt them. 

The painstaking journey from carbon to carat, shrouded in time and immense pressure, amplifies the allure of diamonds and directly correlates with their lofty price point.

On the flip side, cubic zirconia can wear its dance shoes at a moment's notice.

It's synthesized relatively quickly and in an abundance that makes rabbits blush, thereby taking a bite out of its price tag and making it a budget-friendly alternative.

Like a well-designed costume for a Broadway actor, cubic zirconia effortlessly takes on the role of a diamond, giving the limelight to the brilliance and fire without breaking the bank.

This dramatic difference in price makes cubic zirconia the darling of the budget-conscious shopper and a go-to gem for those looking to dress their lives in the glamor of diamonds without needing to pawn off the family heirlooms. 

So, suppose you're seeking a taste of the diamond lifestyle on a cubic zirconia budget.

This sparkling imposter might just be your ticket to the glitzy world of jewelry, minus the heart-stopping price tag.

How to tell if a gemstone is Cubic Zirconia or Diamond?

Have you ever found yourself in a 'To Be or Not To Be' moment, pondering if your shiny sparkler is a true diamond or its doppelgänger, cubic zirconia?

Worry not, jewelry detective; here are some clues to help you crack the case.

Inspect it for wear

Diamonds, like the queen of a royal court, are generally untouched by the passage of time.

If your gemstone seems to have developed a "patina of life" – with scratches or a cloudy appearance – it's more likely to be cubic zirconia playing dress-up. Diamonds are the Mohs scale's valedictorians, and it takes more than the rigors of daily life to leave a mark on them.

Color refraction test

Let's play a game of light, shall we? When your gemstone is bathed in the brilliance of sunlight, notice the spectrum of colors it radiates.

If it's a fireworks display of all the rainbow colors but with mainly orange flashes of light, you're likely holding cubic zirconia. 

Diamonds, conversely, have a more sophisticated light show, reflecting flashes of color like purple, yellow, white, and all the colors in between.

Remember, a diamond's rainbow is less of a carnival and more of a black-tie gala. The better the cut, the better the rainbow!

Is Cubic Zirconia considered a type of Diamond?

Ah, the million-dollar question! Despite their similar appearance, cubic zirconia is not a type of diamond – they are as different as a horse and a zebra. 

They may both prance around the gemstone savannah, but a diamond is a natural marvel formed over billions of years deep in the Earth's mantle.

Cubic Zirconia is a creation of the laboratory, cooked up by scientists. 

They share a visual sparkle, but the similarities end there. In the world of gemstones, diamonds are the rockstars, while cubic zirconia is the talented tribute band.

Is Cubic Zirconia right for you?

Whether cubic zirconia is your right dance partner depends entirely on the tune you want to dance to.

If you desire all the sparkle and shine of a diamond without digging deep into your pockets, cubic zirconia could be your Cinderella at the ball. 

It's perfect for those who want to strut down the fashion runway or add some glitz to everyday attire without worrying about a high-value gem's potential loss or damage. 

But remember, while cubic zirconia can mimic a diamond's sparkle, it lacks the longevity, durability, and unique allure of owning a real diamond.

It’s like comparing a fine-aged wine to a well-made grape juice - both have their merits, but only one can truly steal the show.

The Verdict: "Diamonds vs Cubic Zirconia: A Tale of Two Sparklers"

Choosing between diamonds and cubic zirconia isn't a battle—it's a dance. 

It's about finding a partner that matches your style, budget, and lifestyle. 

Whether you're swaying towards the timeless elegance of diamonds or the wallet-friendly allure of cubic zirconia, remember that the right choice is the one that makes you feel like a star in your own story.

At Ben Garelick, we are not just purveyors of luxury jewelry; we're also your partners in the journey toward finding the perfect piece that represents you. 

Our gemstone experts are on standby, eager to guide you through our meticulously curated collections and help you uncover your gemstone soulmate.

Why not seize the moment and transform your newfound knowledge into a sparkling reality? 

Join us at the Ben Garelick showroom and experience the magic of our gemstone universe, or if you prefer the comfort of your own home, engage with our experts online. 

Whichever path you choose, we're here to illuminate your journey with our expertise and passion.

So, what are you waiting for? 

Step into the Ben Garelick universe today, and let's find that perfect gem together. 

Your glittering future awaits!

Peter Manka Jr

Peter Manka Jr. - Owner at Ben Garelick

Peter Manka Jr. is a passionate member of the family business who joined Ben Garelick in the early 2000s after working in product licensing for Sesame Workshop & The Jim Henson Company for many years. He obtained a degree in diamonds and jewelry from the prestigious Gemological Institute of America (GIA) in order to sharpen his jewelry skills. He takes great pride in providing exceptional customer service and helping clients find the perfect piece of jewelry.

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