Diamonds may be a girl’s best friend but cubic zirconias are made for the modern woman. It can be hard to distinguish between the two stones by appearance alone. Both options have the shine, sparkle, and brilliance you’re looking for in a piece of jewelry. However, it’s important to look beyond appearance alone.
Paying the exuberant cost of a diamond may seem unjustifiable when there are simulants on the market that look and feel like the real thing – at a fraction of the cost. One of the most common and sought-after diamond simulants is the cubic zirconia, a synthetic diamond made of cubic crystalline.
Before making your decision, compare cubic zirconias and diamonds in greater detail.
What Is a Cubic Zirconia?
Cubic zirconia (CZ) is an incredibly durable, lab-made stone that looks similar to a diamond. It is created by melting zirconium oxide powder with certain stabilizers, such as calcium or magnesium. With steady, extended heating, these materials cause the crystals in the CZ to stabilize into their final form.
There are many qualities of a cubic zirconia that make it an exceptional stone for jewelry-making. It is hard, colorless, and can be polished to achieve a flawless sheen. Cubic zirconias can also be cut into a range of shapes, such as princess, round, heart, marquise, and cushion.
Cubic zirconia is considered one of the most impressive man-made diamond simulants today. They are comparable to traditional diamonds as they are clear and effortlessly reflect light. However, cubic zirconias produce more rainbow-colored flashes of light compared to diamonds which produce a whiter light.
What Is a Diamond?
Unlike cubic zirconias which are man-made, diamonds are formed between 75 and 120 miles below the earth’s surface. Diamonds are created from carbon derived from the melting of rock in the earth’s upper mantle. Diamonds require ideal conditions to form, meaning the chemistry and pressure must be just right.
The diamond is known as the world’s hardest known natural substance. It also possesses special optical properties, such as high dispersion, a high index of infraction, and adamantine luster. The quality of diamonds can range considerably, ranging in color from clear to slightly yellow, brown, or even gray.
Diamonds can also be found in various cuts, carats, and clarity. With the addition of color, these qualities make up the “4Cs.” As diamonds are a ten on the Mohs scale, they are commonly used as an abrasive. Small particles of diamond can often be found in drill bits, saw blades, and grinding wheels.
Cubic Zirconia vs Diamond
When comparing a cubic zirconia with a diamond, there are many aspects to consider. While they may appear very similar, they are very different in terms of cost, sustainability, imperfections, and similar aspects. Before choosing a stone to elevate your look, consider the following comparisons between cubic zirconias and diamonds.
One of the biggest differences between cubic zirconias and diamonds is price. According to PriceScope, the average price per carat of an excellent (EX) cut grade diamond is $8,655. The price falls to $7,159 for a very good (VG) cut grade, and finally, $5,882 for a good (G) cut grade.
When valuing a diamond, all attributes of the stone are taken into consideration. For example, the shape of the stone can make a big impact on its price with round stones costing considerably more than cushion and heart-shaped stones. This is because fancy shapes typically have a lower retail price than round diamonds of the same size.
The cost of a cubic zirconia is considerably less expensive than a natural diamond. According to the International Gem Society, a cut and polished one-carat cubic zirconia cost approximately $20. This refers to the stone alone and not the metal used to create the stone’s setting or other parts of the jewelry.
Many retailers assign grades to cubic zirconias which can also impact their price. Grade AAAAA is the highest quality while grade A is the lowest. However, as grades can be inconsistent across different retailers, it’s important not to rely on grade alone when making your decision.
In terms of sustainability, cubic zirconias win hands-down. According to a study conducted by environmental consultancy Trucost, cubic zirconias use a significantly smaller quantity of energy during production, just 0.002 percent of that of a mined diamond. Cubic zirconias also use 5,000 times less carbon dioxide (CO2) and 3,000 times less water per carat than diamonds.
Cubic zirconias are made in a lab and present many of the same chemical and physical properties as natural diamonds. However, they are considered a more sustainable choice of gemstone. You can rest assured that your cubic zirconia is made ethically and conflict-free, making it the optimal choice for those who value sustainability.
When it comes to environmental friendliness, the cubic zirconia again reigns supreme. Unlike cubic zirconias which are man-made, diamonds are mined from the ground in unethical ways. One method is referred to as alluvial diamond mining. During this process, miners must divert waterways by building massive walls. Once the river or ocean bed is dry, they can start mining for diamonds. Diverting water sources can have a detrimental effect on wildlife and ecosystems.
Open-pit and underground mining are other methods of finding diamonds. In open-pit mining, workers must dig enormous pits which they often leave unfilled when they’re done. Unground mining uses dangerous explosives and parallel tunnels which can disturb the soil and kill wildlife. The heavy machinery used in these processes also requires massive amounts of fossil fuels.
Marine diamond mining has the greatest impact on our environment. This type of mining occurs in a boat within a lake or ocean. A massive drill is attached to the boat and dropped to the lake or ocean floor where it drills through and sucks up dirt which is then shifted for diamonds. This type of mining can disturb aquatic life and have a negative impact on the underwater ecosystem.
Customers expect great clarity when purchasing any type of stone. With a cubic zirconia, achieving flawless clarity is easy as scientists have full control over the final outcome of the stone. However, the clarity of natural diamonds is not guaranteed. Natural diamonds can be found in a range of clarity grades, ranging from flawless to included. Note that even “flawless” diamonds can have small inclusions within.
Cubic zirconias always have excellent clarity, meaning no flaws or imperfections. This is one of the most common ways that jewelers distinguish a cubic zirconia from a diamond. Purchasing a flawless or nearly flawless diamond can be very expensive; fortunately, you can obtain the perfect diamond without breaking the bank.
While diamonds are not particularly rare, they are not as attainable as cubic zirconias. The rarer the diamond cut, color, carat, and/or clarity, the more expensive and harder it is to find these stones. Their scarceness is due to how long diamonds take to form and how they are obtained. Diamonds take an average of one billion to three billion years to form. They are also formed miles underground, making them harder to obtain.
Cubic zirconias, on the other hand, are easy to acquire. These lab-made stones take a matter of weeks to make, allowing jewelers to create a wide selection of jewelry that keeps up with the latest styles. If you’re looking to purchase a piece of jewelry that is not only affordable but easy to find in a large array of options, then you want a cubic zirconia.
Everyone knows that diamonds are timeless; however, that doesn’t mean certain cuts can’t be outdated. Splurging on a diamond only to find that it’s no longer trendy a year later can be disheartening. When this happens, most women will put their costly jewelry away, never to be worn again.
Cubic zirconias are not only fashionable but also practical. Due to their greater affordability, you can invest in new pieces much more frequently. This means that you can keep up with current trends from season to season. With access to the latest styles, you can constantly change up your look, whether you’re going for subtle or elegant – or anything in between.
Is Cubic Zirconia For You?
While everyone has their personal preference when it comes to jewelry, there is no denying the absolute appeal of cubic zirconias. These stunning stones are perfect for women on a budget or simply those who want to do their part to help the environment. Like diamonds, cubic zirconias can be found nestled in an array of jewelry, from rings and bracelets to necklaces and earrings. They are a popular choice for everyday jewelry, as well as for special occasions like engagements and anniversaries.
At Kiera, we aim to help women of all ages and backgrounds feel more beautiful and confident. As a jewelry designer with years of experience, I believe in creating chic pieces that are both attainable and wearable. I also understand the importance of making ethical and sustainable jewelry that does not sacrifice style or quality. There’s a common misconception that you need to spend a fortune to elevate your look. This simply isn’t true. Kiera offers the latest styles that are revolutionizing the jewelry market and our push for awe-inspiring, sustainable jewelry only grows stronger by the day.
Compared to natural diamonds, our man-made cubic zirconias are a win-win for everyone. Shop our new arrivals and stunning collection of sophisticated offerings at Kiera.