Diamond has always been the most sought-after gemstone. Everyone (especially women) is somehow attracted by this highly sparkling gemstone and would spend vast sums of money for diamond accessories such as a diamond ring, diamond earrings or a diamond pendant necklace as a gift for her or a gift for loved ones. However, the prices of diamonds or diamond products are really not affordable for anyone because of their rare nature. Luckily, we have much better technology today for creating a “synthetic” diamond called Cubic Zirconia (CZ) which can hardly be distinguished from diamond with the naked eye.
The chemical formula of cubic zirconia is ZrO2 (a crystalline form of zirconium dioxide). Cubic zirconia is a lab-made synthetic gemstone which is sparkling, hard and durable, and the cost of manufacturing cubic zirconia is much lower than that of extracting diamond, making it an important competitor.
Measuring the quality of cubic zirconia and diamond is very much alike in 4 aspects, namely carat, clarity, color and cutting (“the 4C’s”). Like all diamonds, the 4C’s help people to get more objective characteristics for pricing a cubic zirconia. Let’s start with the most well-known term of the 4C’s – Carat.
Carat of Cubic Zirconia
The weight of a cubic zirconia is different from that of a diamond because of their differences in density. When we talk about 1 diamond carat, it is referring to a measure of a diamond’s weight, which affects size and price. However, as we just mentioned, the density of cubic zirconia and diamond is different; we can’t say “1 carat diamond” is the same as “1-carat cubic zirconia” because by doing so, the “1-carat cubic zirconia” would be smaller in size. A 1-carat stone will weigh 200 milligrams / 0.2 grams, and the density of a diamond is around 3.5 – 3.53, while the density of cubic zirconia is around 5.5 – 5.9. Indeed, it is not hard to understand that 1-carat cubic zirconia is smaller than 1-carat diamond in size.
When you are shopping online for cubic zirconia loose stone, different suppliers may have different methods of price quotations. Most suppliers allow you to shop directly by size, which is always the clearest (and the best) way to measure a cubic zirconia. However, some use carat to measure it, which can be quite confusing because you can hardly tell whether 1 carat means 1 carat in real weight or 1 carat-equivalent size. For example, if the “1 carat” means real weight, then what you are going to buy is a cubic zirconia with 0.2 grams. On the other hand, if the “1 carat” means carat-equivalent size, that means the supplier is selling you a cubic zirconia which is of the same size as a 1-carat diamond.
Clarity of Cubic Zirconia
Because cubic zirconia is manufactured synthetically and is not a natural mineral, the clarity (i.e. cloudiness) of cubic zirconia is flawless, so it will not be cloudy or flawed when you look through it. Having said that, low-quality manufacturing processes may still cause some imperfections or flaws to the cubic zirconia. Diamond, on the other hand, is a natural gemstone that can hardly be flawless. Only the rarest and highest-quality diamonds can be flawless and with Grade FL (i.e. flawless – no inclusions or blemishes visible under 10X magnification) on the GIA diamond clarity grading scale.
Color of Cubic Zirconia
Again, due to the lab-made nature of cubic zirconia, it is possible to artificially add other elements / oxides to the cubic zirconia to color it during the manufacturing process. Unlike diamond, which occurs in a variety of colors (such as white, blue, red, green, pink, purple and black) as a result of impurities or structural defects, cubic zirconia is often colorless if no other elements/oxides are added by the manufacturer. And the grade of colorless cubic zirconia is what we call grade “D” (i.e. perfectly colorless) on the GIA diamond color grading scales.
Cut of Cubic Zirconia
There are many different cuts being developed for cutting gemstones like diamond and cubic zirconia. People usually mix up cut and shape (e.g. oval, pear). Perhaps you have heard of “Hearts and Arrows” when you bought diamond before, but bear in mind that Hearts and Arrows is just a property indicating a top-tier cut and doesn’t directly mean that it is the most brilliant. To help consumers identify the cut grade, GIA actually has a Diamond Cut Grading System to grade a diamond’s fire, sparkle and brilliance. This grading system is based on 7 components: Brightness – the total light reflected from a diamond); Fire – the dispersion of light into the colors of the spectrum; Scintillation – the pattern of light and dark areas and the flashes of light, or sparkle, when a diamond is moved; and the remaining four – weight ratio, durability, polish and symmetry.
Cubic zirconia can be cut using the same method used in cutting diamond. As such, you can find cubic zirconia in typical diamond cuts like 8 Hearts and Arrows (Star Cut), 9 Hearts 1 Flower, Round Brilliant Cuts, Oval Cuts, Heart Cuts, Pear Cuts, Princess Cuts, etc.
Everyday Jewelry with Cubic Zirconia
Cubic Zirconia is one of the best materials for making everyday jewelry / affordable jewelry because of its low price and similar nature to diamond. Fashion jewelry with high-quality cubic zirconia inlaid can always add a sense of elegance to the piece, so cubic zirconia jewelry is definitely an extremely cost-effective gift choice. It is never too much to send a gift to your loved ones for whatever reason, so why not a piece of lovely jewelry with high-quality, sparkling cubic zirconia?