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    Cubic Zirconia Vs. Diamonds

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    If you’re looking for a lab-made stone for
    your engagement ring, you’ll find that there are a lot of options to choose
    from. Lab-grown diamonds, moissanite, synthetic white sapphires, and cubic
    zirconia are the most popular man-made stones. Cubic zirconia is another
    man-made stone to consider if you’re on a budget and looking for something
    conflict-free.

    Cubic Zirconia–What Is It?

    Cubic zirconia is classified as a diamond simulant – a stone that looks similar to natural diamonds, but is made of different material. Natural and lab-grown diamonds are made of carbon, while cubic zirconia is made of zirconium dioxide (ZrO2). The cubic part of the name comes from the fact that the stone has a cubic crystalline form. Diamonds also have a cubic crystalline form, so cubic zirconia is a great diamond lookalike.

    cubic zirconia
    Find this Ring at CustomMadeIf you’re OK with replacing the stones every few years, cubic zirconia (as shown above) can be an affordable option. By CustomMade.
    French Pavé Diamond Engagement Ring in Platinum (1/4 ct. tw.) Blue Nile
    Find this Ring at Blue NileCan you tell the different between a diamond and a cubic zirconia? This is a real diamond ring by Blue Nile (who does not sell cubic zirconia).

    The material was originally used by scientists
    experimenting with different synthetic materials to use in lasers. In the
    1970s, scientists in Russia perfected the technique of growing single cubic
    zirconia crystals. The clear, sparkly crystals were used to make mass-produced
    jewelry. Today cubic zirconia crystals are a popular diamond dupe in necklaces,
    earrings, bracelets and rings of all kinds.

    Cubic Zirconia vs. Diamond

    How does cubic zirconia stack up against
    diamond? Let’s compare a few of the key characteristics.

    Beauty

    Like diamond, cubic zirconia is naturally colorless. In fact, most natural diamonds have a faint yellow or brown tint. Cubic zirconia is completely clear, comparable to a D color rating. Under natural light, diamonds give off white light. Cubic zirconia will show more fire. Both effects are beautiful and depend on personal preference. If you’re looking for that telltale diamond sparkle, however, you won’t find it in a cubic zirconia stone.

    1.00 Carat round diamond James Allen
    Th sparkle you see in this real diamond by James Allen won’t be seen in a cubic zirconia.

    Cubic zirconia can also be color treated with
    different elements, resulting in a rainbow of hues. There are even
    multi-colored cubic zirconia stones, if you want a truly one-of-a-kind look.
    These stones are affordable and unique alternatives to fancy colored diamonds
    or colored gemstones like emerald, ruby and sapphire.

    Natural diamonds (and even lab-grown
    diamonds!) have flaws–tiny imperfections within the stone called inclusions.
    Cubic zirconia has no natural internal flaws. Cubic zirconia stones are cut and
    polished after they’re made. They can be cut into many common diamond shapes,
    like round, princess, pear and cushion.

    1.00 Carat emerald diamond James Allen
    Natural diamonds such as this one from James Allen have inclusions while cubic zirconia do not. Can you spot the inclusion here?

    Durability

    When looking for an engagement ring, it can be tempting to choose a cubic zirconia stone simply based on price. Cubic zirconia rings are far cheaper than diamond rings and at first glance, they look the same. This beauty won’t last though–cubic zirconia only lasts about two years before its beauty fades. Natural diamonds and other gemstones are expensive, but will last a lifetime.

    Lab-Created 1.69 carat Princess cut Solitaire engagement ring IN 18K White Gold James Allen
    Find this Ring at James AllenThe beauty on this natural diamond sparkler by James Allen will never fade.

    Diamonds are well-known for their hardness,
    which ranks at 10 on Mohs hardness scale. Diamonds are very durable and won’t
    scratch from daily use. Cubic zirconia is an 8.5 on the hardness scale. It
    doesn’t seem like a huge difference, but it is. Cubic zirconia scratches easily
    from daily use–even household dust can scratch the stones. Cubic zirconia also
    absorbs oils from skin and everyday products. After a few years, even the
    shiniest cubic zirconia will have a cloudy, scratched appearance. This is not a
    huge deal if you want to replace your ring every few years, but it is important
    to consider when comparing cubic zirconia to diamond.

    Price

    Cubic zirconia is very inexpensive, since it’s
    synthetic and mass-produced. A cut and polished one carat cubic zirconia stone
    will cost $20 and a similar two carat stone will cost about $30. This is far
    cheaper than diamonds, which start at $1800 for one carat and increase
    considerably as size goes up.

    Cubic zirconia engagement rings range in
    price, largely depending on the metal the setting is made of. Rings in the
    $20-$40 price range are typically made of brass, silver, or copper plated with
    gold or platinum. The plating on these rings will typically wear away quickly,
    so it’s smart to avoid them. Similarly, many websites sell cubic zirconia
    engagement rings that cost $100 or more. These rings have bands made from finer
    metals like 14K gold or platinum. Cubic zirconia stones scratch and fade very
    easily, losing their luster after about two years. It’s not worth spending the
    extra money for a nicer band when you’ll end up replacing the entire ring
    anyway.

    Find this Ring at Brian GavinThe price point between natural diamonds and cubic zirconia is significant, but there are trade-offs to getting a cubic zirconia. Here, a stunning setting with natural diamonds by Brian Gavin.

    Sterling silver or stainless steel are good
    metals to pair with cubic zirconia. These rings range from $50-$90. With
    sterling silver or stainless steel, you won’t have to worry about plating
    chipping off, and you won’t be overpaying for the setting.

    Another thing to watch for is cubic zirconia
    rating. Some retailers assign grades, like A, 1A, AAA, AAAAA or 5A, to their
    cubic zirconia stones. According to retailers, grade AAAAA cubic zirconia
    stones are the highest quality and grade A are the lowest. However, these
    grades have no standard across retailers and there are no policies to ensure
    quality. Cubic zirconia is man-made and mass produced, so the quality between
    stones is consistent. The cubic zirconia grading system is essentially a
    marketing tactic with no science behind it, so don’t overpay for a supposedly
    high-quality cubic zirconia stone.

    Is Cubic Zirconia For You?

    Everyone has their own personal preference
    when it comes to engagement rings. Cubic zirconia is the best option if you’re
    on a very strict budget. Look for stainless steel or sterling silver cubic
    zirconia engagement rings. These are beautiful, but inexpensive, and both the
    band and the stone will last a few years.

    A cubic zirconia engagement ring is also a
    good option if you think your taste will change over time. Diamonds last
    forever and it can be a daunting task to pick out a stone and setting you’ll
    want for years! Cubic zirconia rings are very inexpensive, so you can choose
    one and wear it for a while to see if you like it.

    Cubic zirconia is also a popular choice for
    travel rings. If you have a diamond engagement ring and want to leave it at
    home while you’re on vacation, at the beach or pool, or doing outdoor
    activities like hiking or skiing, consider a cubic zirconia ring. No one will
    be able to tell the difference! You won’t have to worry about your real ring
    getting damaged, lost, or stolen.

    The Bottom Line

    Cubic zirconia is a popular diamond
    alternative. It’s affordable, conflict-free, and looks just like a real
    diamond. The drawbacks are the lack of durability–with daily use, it will lose
    its shine and sparkle within a few years. If you choose a cubic zirconia stone
    for your engagement ring, make sure to get a quality band made of sterling
    silver or stainless steel. Most importantly, find something that you love!

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