Moh's scale of Hardness, and How to Protect your Jewelry from unwanted Scratches 0The Moh's Scale of Hardness ranks minerals, gemstones, metals and other materials based on what material scratches what other materials, and what materials are scratched by it in return. Basically, a material can be scratched by anything ranked above it and can scratch anything ranked below it. This is important because you're going to learn how to mostly prevent the #1 reason fine precious metal jewelry becomes damaged and doesn't last the lifetime you expect it to last!
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When Was Cubic Zirconia Invented? 0
When was cubic zirconia invented? Well, the truth is, it wasn’t invented per se. Cubic zirconia is a naturally occurring substance. Some place its discovery as far back as 1892, with the discovery of naturally occurring zirconium oxide, or baddeleyite. But that’s a long way from your shiny cubic zirconia engagement ring! The natural form of cubic zirconia (or CZ, as it is popularly known) is so rare, that you can assume the CZ you find in any piece of jewelry has been synthesized.
It was a long research road from naturally occurring CZ to the jewelry store, and to your love story, in the form of jewelry. In 1937, German mineralogists noted its presence as a byproduct of an unrelated experiment. They didn’t even bother to give it a name. Early research sought uses for laser technology and other optical applications.
No one bothered about CZ’s amazing bling potential.
CZ carried on in relative anonymity until Soviet scientists discovered how to grow CZ crystals in a lab. Cubic Zirconia melts at such high temperatures that no metal can serve as its container. Soviets discovered the method of using a skull crucible, which is a super-cool name, and which allowed the CZ to grow successfully. Oh, those Russians! Their research was not published until 1973 (perhaps something to do with an unfortunate business called the Cold War?).
By 1976, commercial production began world-wide. Cubic Zirconia has graduated from obscurity to becoming the most important competitor of the diamond industry.
- Tekla Luchenski, Staff Writer
Is Cubic Zirconia A Diamond? 1
Is Cubic Zirconia a diamond?
Cubic Zirconia, commonly known in jewelry circles as “CZ”, has been the most popular more-affordable alternative to natural diamonds since the stone was first produced for commercial use in jewelry, industrial machinery, lasers and other applications almost 4 decades ago (1976). The highest-quality CZ stones are flawless, with brilliant sparkle, tremendous clarity, and radiant fire, good durability and hardness, and are visually indistinguishable from natural diamonds to the naked eye.
But is cubic zirconia actually in fact a diamond?
While cubic zirconia exists in nature (see Is Cubic Zirconia a mineral?), the mineral is rare enough that the CZ used in most commercially produced jewelry manufactured over the last 4 decades is of a man-made origin. If you want to get the scientific skinny, cubic zirconia is actually the cubic crystalline form of a physical compound made up of the elements Zirconium and Oxygen (ZrO2 to be precise) called Zirconium Dioxide.
ASIDE: No wonder we adopted name ‘Cubic Zirconia’, right? It’s got a pretty sexy sound,
while ‘Zirconium Dioxide’ honestly sounds like a laundry detergent.
Natural diamonds are found in nature, and as such cannot be considered the same as cubic zirconia stones, the majority of which used in commercial jewelry are man-made.
There’s the short answer to your burning question about whether cubic zirconia are diamonds.
While the stone looks like a diamond and possesses many diamond-like qualities— to the degree that even jewelers with decades of experience cannot tell the difference between a high-quality CZ and a perfect diamond by simply comparing the two side by side with the naked eye alone— Cubic Zirconia is not a diamond.
However, the difference in cost between diamonds and diamond simulants such as cubic zirconia—and others that are somewhat deceptively sold under ‘diamond’ names—can be thousands to tens of thousands of dollars. That’s why perhaps a more important question to answer than if cubic zirconia is a diamond, is whether that DIAMOND you are thinking about purchasing is actually a real diamond?
Before you shake your head or walk away confused from this webpage, bear with me a moment…OK? The truth is: in order to FULLY answer your question if cubic zirconia is a diamond, really you first have to decide in your own mind what a ‘diamond’ is to you.
When you think of diamonds, you probably think of a handful of extremely rare and valuable gemstones mined with great cost and difficulty from deep in the earth, a finite resource that is dwindling in supply…am I right? What if I told you that a large percentage of diamonds sold as ‘diamonds’ today were in fact grown in a lab, created by combining various physical elements into compounds that mimic natural diamonds— very much like cubic zirconia are also manufactured?
What if continued down the rabbit hole and I told you that there was absolutely no limit on the number of these kinds of ‘diamonds’ that could be created in the lab?
That’s right! Those lab-grown diamonds are sold to unsuspecting customers at prices that are just a bit cheaper than natural diamonds mined with sweat and sacrifice (and innocent blood, too, but that’s another story) from the earth…but prices still high enough to be damned difficult to justify in this man’s opinion—an opinion shared by increasing numbers of savvy consumers who know what their money is worth—for a product that is limitless in supply, as opposed to more rare natural diamonds.
And these folks even have the nerve to give their lab-grown ‘diamonds’ an appraisal, and a report, and a certification just like real diamonds mined from the earth and limited in supply…as if they didn’t just whip up a batch in the back-room with a chemistry set.
So, maybe you won’t think it’s such a silly question anymore to ask “Is that DIAMOND really a diamond?”
Listen, natural diamonds have their place. Historically, there is a great tradition that links a diamond in the minds of women—and men—as a rock that symbolizes much more than just geology. And natural diamonds do have some intrinsic value, because they have uses in industry beyond just looking pretty, and a scarcity upon which much of the value of any natural resource is based.
Though, frankly, they’re not as rare as the diamond mining cartels would have you believe— they own full warehouses bursting with them, stones they intentionally keep off the market to inflate prices— natural diamonds still are a finite resource.
If the tradition concerns you and money is no object, by all means…purchase a diamond. We think the money can be much better spent in other ways, but that’s just our opinion and you came here for hard facts about cubic zirconia. After all, some people want to light cigars with $100 bills, too.
However, I want you to think very hard before you pay anything more than $200 USD for any ordinary-size and non-custom-cut substitute gemstone made in a lab, no matter what they call it or how many reports, certifications, or appraisals the faux diamond may receive as part of the proof provided to entice you to pay a bunch of money for something God didn’t have a hand in creating.
$5000 for a lab-grown diamond loose stone? It boggles the mind anyone would pay such high prices for a lab-grown diamond when natural diamonds of good size can be obtained for not much more, and high-quality 5A cubic zirconia for 1/100 or less of the cost.
I hope you’ve learned a few things in this post. No, cubic zirconia is not a diamond. But for that matter, a large percentage of ‘diamonds’ sold today aren’t diamonds either, not by this man’s definition.
What do you think?
Let me know if you have any questions in the comments below.
Vice President, CubicZirconia.com
P.S. Want to know more of the nitty-gritty about the differences between Diamonds vs Cubic Zirconia? We’ve got an ever-growing resource, with case studies and more, ready for your reading pleasure. Take a few minutes and read up, especially if you’re shopping for an engagement ring…after all, if everything goes right, you’ll only be buying ONE. And if what I’m telling you is true—and it is, and our company will prove it to you— you don’t need a diamond engagement ring, when you can get a cubic zirconia replica engagement ring with a lifetime guarantee, and have no one know the difference while you take the difference in price and spend for fun or invest for the future in ways that will satisfy you much more than a rock.
Is cubic zirconia a mineral or not? 0
Is Cubic Zirconia a mineral or not?
Cubic Zirconia— also commonly known as “CZ” though not frequently at this website, where we like to give a little more respect than lazily abbreviating everything— is often thought to be a mineral, since gemstones like diamonds are usually minerals.
Is cubic zirconia in fact a mineral?
The short answer is “yes and no”. A mineral is defined as occurring naturally. Therefore, most cubic zirconia stones used in jewelry are fabricated in a lab environment and are not classified as minerals. As man-made constructs of zirconium oxide created in high temperatures they simply cannot be 'natural'.
However, there IS a cubic zirconia mineral and it was first discovered in the 1950s.
What gets sold most often in cubic zirconia jewelry, though, is a man-made gemstone manufactured using a process first discovered by Russian scientists in the late 1970s.
However, as a diamond simulant and alternative cubic zirconia gemstones are without peer in our opinion, and for your money you simply can’t beat purchasing cubic zirconia.
That was today’s science lesson!
Remember…if you can’t tell the difference, why pay the difference?
P.S. If you have any questions about cubic zirconia that you want answered immediately and that we can use to educate others in a future blog post like this one just contact us and let us know!
Cubic Zirconia 101- Properties of CZ 1Color it blue, red, yellow, yellow, white, or whatever tint you want. Looking at it, with the untrained eye, you’ll mistake it as a diamond, a natural gem mined from the earth.
But using a jeweler’s loupe, this flawless, crystal-like piece of stone is not a diamond but a mimic of which it is called cubic zirconia or 'CZ' as it is popularly known.
History: Cubic Zirconia was discovered in the 18th century. It was later in the Soviet that scientists and mineralogists alike studied and perfected the technique wherein the gemstone could reach its maximum crystalline form. This milestone was known to the public in 1973 and commercial production began in the 70’s. And by the 1980’s mass production has reached its peak and laboratories produced over 50 million carats of this beautiful, sparkling artificial gemstone.
Physical Attributes: The quality of this gemstone depends on the ingredients used and the right proportion of formula and its purity. As a diamond stimulant, it sparkles brighter than crystal and is remarkably harder than most gems. It weighs 65% more than a diamond does (which accounts for the diamond-carat equivalents our company uses to sell cubic zirconia jewelry in diamond-traditional sizes).
CZ also has a high rate of dispersion. That is, when light shines on it, the stone brilliantly sparkles with different colors refracted on its structure. It can also be made in any color, though clear/white is most popular. Because of its natural form, low cost, durability and its close visual likeness to diamonds Cubic Zirconia has become and remained the primary diamond competitor.
Advantages and Disadvantages: Ever since its availability in the market, one cannot miss it from any jewelry stand or trinket shop. What with its low price point and it looks great, too. From rings to earrings, to bracelets to necklaces, to pendants, one can wear it anywhere, anytime without worrying about getting it lost or damaged. It can also be adjusted or prepared to suit one’s taste or lifestyle. It can be set in silver sterling and gold just like diamonds. This gemstone requires low maintenance, too. Just clean it like one would any other gem and that’s it. Bear in mind though, that cubic zirconia stones are more prone to scratches so the use of a soft cloth is required and handling it gently also helps. This cubic zirconia stone too, is brittle and has less resistance than harder diamonds to breakage from falls or impacts.
We at CubicZirconia.com mitigate any fear of scratching by offering a lifetime warranty you can read about on our website. So we've got your back!
Because these gemstones can be produced in as much quantity as production and resources may allow unlike real diamonds which take millions of years to form, the inherent value of diamonds (which have limited quantity) will always be more than its visual counterpart cubic zirconia.
Still, when you want to be fashionable and cannot afford to buy and maintain high-end baubles-- or you have your eye to saving money you can invest on other uses like a wedding, honey-moon, or other special treat...you'll be in great company with millions of others if you choose cubic zirconia over diamonds.
From a mineralogical standpoint, even the highest-quality artificially-produced CZ is not a genuine gemstone like diamonds are classified. From a jewelry standpoint, however, as we say...if you can't TELL the difference...why PAY the difference?