Diamonds are so much more expensive than than an equally beautiful Cubic Zirconia, but who wants to cut corners on something as important as a wedding ring if the cheaper alternative is soon going to end up looking terrible?
Do Cubic Zirconia look like real diamonds? Quality Cubic Zirconia look a great deal like diamonds, but they aren’t indistinguishable. Cubic Zirconia have more fire, but less brilliance, than diamonds. They also aren’t as hard, so they will wear differently over time. Under magnification, diamonds have natural imperfections, but Cubic Zirconia don’t.
There are both strong similarities and critical differences between Diamonds and Cubic Zirconia. We’ll help you to understand and weigh those factors so you to choose the material that going to work best for you.
Where Cubic Zirconia Come From?
While natural diamonds are either found or mined, Cubic Zirconia (often referred to simply as CZ) are manufactured. They’re essentially very clear crystals that are made from Zirconium Oxide and an additive like yttrium or calcium oxide. The resulting product is relatively hard and completely clear material that can be cut like a diamond.
Unlike diamonds, Cubic Zirconia are optically perfect. Natural diamonds have inclusions, fractures, and other other imperfections. Only the rarest of diamonds are colorless. Most have some degree of yellow or brown tinting.
Cubic Zirconia on the other hand are clear, colorless, and free of the small blemishes of all natural diamonds.
For the record, Cubic Zirconia are often mistakenly referred to as Cubic Zircon. In reality, a Zircon is a naturally occuring gem. It’s actually the December birthstone, and has nothing to do with Cubic Zirconia.
Does Cubic Zirconia Shine Like a Diamond?
Your friends and family probably won’t notice a difference in the sparkle, but Cubic Zirconia have more colored light and less white light reflected back. This provides a beautiful show of shimmering colored sparkles, but it isn’t exactly the same sparkle you’d get from a natural diamond.
To maintain that sparkle across decades, you’ll want to follow the simple cleaning and maintenance instructions outlined below.
How Can Others Tell That You are Wearing a CZ, Not a Diamond?
It’s honestly incredibly hard to tell at first glance…especially from any distance.
The most common give away that a ring contains an imitation stone instead of a diamond, is the size of the rock on the ring. If a young student at a state college is wearing a ring with, what appears to be, a multi-carat diamond, it’s likely to strike others as an almost certain fake. If a CZ is a reasonable and believable size, it’s extremely unlikely that it would ever be questioned.
With diamonds, sometimes less is more.
What’s the Difference in Scratch Resistance?
Mohs Scale of hardness is something that’s used to help clearly compare and relate the relative hardness of various minerals or materials. On this 1-10 scale, softer substances have a lower score. Harder materials have higher score.
The hardness score for both gold and platinum is about 3. Cubic Zirconia scores an impressive 8.5, while diamonds are in a league of their own with a perfect 10. Anything that’s harder than a particular material is typically capable of scratching it. For example, a Cubic Zirconia could easily scratch gold, but gold couldn’t scratch a Cubic Zirconia.
Because diamonds are at the extreme end of Mohs scale, they aren’t very prone to scratches, however, there are things harder than a Cubic Zirconia, so you have to exercise additional caution when wearing one to ensure it isn’t coming in contact with things that could mar it.
Are There Differences Related to Color Changes and Risk of Damage?
The appearance of diamonds doesn’t really change over time, but they can lose some of their luster temporarily if not cleaned regularly. A scratched surface can also start to dull the appearance of a ring and make it look somewhat clouded. Because of the relative hardness of both rings, this is a much greater risk with a CZ than a diamond.
Early CZ stones manufactured in the 1970’s would take on a clouded appearance with time, instead of maintaining the beautiful clear qualities they had when they were new. That change took place with time, regardless of how they were maintained.
The industry soon found that by adding certain stabilizers during the manufacturing process, the problem could be addressed and avoided. Stabilizing agents have been widely used ever since. Because of those adjustments to the manufacturing process, you can now purchase Cubic Zirconia that looks as clear and beautiful as the day you bought them indefinitely.
Some have reported that their Cubic Zirconia have taken on a more milky or cloudy appearance as they’ve used hand sanitizer regularly. It’s a good idea to keep both your diamond and CZ from coming in contact with chemicals and agents that could have adverse effects.
It’s not uncommon for diamond evangelists to rail against Cubic Zirconia as cheap, disposable, or evidence of some substandard kind of love.
Of course, none of those expressions and opinions are true. CZ’s have made amazing strides over recent decades. Much of the misinformation is being spread ignorantly, but a great deal of it is spread by people that have an interest in selling you natural diamonds. The growth of Cubic Zirconia popularity in recent years is, almost certainly, troubling to the diamond industry.
In reality, Cubic Zirconia aren’t the same as a diamond, but they’re very close in several areas that really matter, and they cost a great deal less. Those that don’t have money for something more expensive, or that choose to spend the money they save on a diamond to pay down debt, save, or invest in a first home, will almost certainly be thrilled with their brilliant and beautiful CZ ring.
What’s Most Effective for Cleaning and Care?
Natural oils from you hand, as well as oils and general grime from our everyday environment can find their way into crevices in and around your diamond or CZ causing them to lose some luster and sparkle.
To clean your ring inexpensively and effectively, use a soft bristled toothbrush (either new or used will work fine) and some mild dish soap in warm water. Gently scrub your the surface area of your stone, as well as the mounting. Be sure to pay extra attention to the underside of the ring. As grime accumulates there, it has an extra impact on muting natural sparkle.
Be sure to thoroughly dry your ring after the cleaning. Drying can be done by dabbing the ring, and then also using a blow dryer on a cool air setting.
What’s the Cost Difference?
While both Diamonds and Cubic Zirconia looks very similar when they’re mounted on a ring, their price tags couldn’t be more different!
Business Insider reported a state-by-state study that found Americans spend $6,351 for an Engagement Ring on average. Couples in California spend more than $10,000 for their ring on average! That says a lot about the cost of diamonds. They aren’t inexpensive.
Many people feel a sense of societal pressure to present the person that they love with a diamond ring they really can’t afford. While the ring may look beautiful, it isn’t worth years of financial bondage.
In contrast, an equally beautiful ring with a quality Cubic Zirconia might typically run $50 to $700. There are a number of factors that lead to such a wide price range, like the size of the CZ, the metal that the ring is made out of, the size and intricacy of wedding band and mounting, the warranty offered, branding, and a number of other factors.
If you’re planning a surprise proposal, a CZ ring could at least be a safe temporary measure that allows you to get on one knee, with a beautiful ring in hand, for that special moment, without spending, or risking, a lot.
If your proposal ends in a “Yes,” you can go shopping together for the more permanent ring…ensuring that she gets something she really loves.
Opportunities for significant savings make it worthwhile for many couples to at least explore an option like Cubic Zirconia as they evaluate alternatives and make decisions.
Can Cubic Zirconia Scratch Glass?
Glass is rated at about 5.5 on Mohs Scale of Hardness. A Cubic Zirconia is rated at 8.5. Since the CZ is the harder of the two, it will easily scratch glass. Because of this, you can’t do the glass scratch test to distinguish a diamond form a CZ.
Can a CZ be set in any kind of ring?
A Cubic Zirconia can be used for any ring that a diamond can be mounted in (or on). There are no added restrictions.
Should You Tell Your Partner if You Bought a Ring with a CZ?
Honesty is the best policy. If your partner is offended or upset that you purchased (or are thinking of purchasing) something other than a diamond, it’s best to know now. The better practice, is to find comfortable ways to bring up rings and artificial diamonds before buying something, so you can learn about their thoughts and preferences in advance.