Synthetic Cubic Zirconia

Synthetic Cubic Zirconia

Cubic Zirconia stones are cut from crystals grown in a laboratory. First used in the Russian space program to serve as a window to photograph through, it was not used in jewelry until 1969 when somebody decided to facet the material. Today, Cubic Zirconia (or CZ) is used extensively in jewellery as an inexpensive diamond substitute. Although CZ's may look like a real diamond, it is possible to tell the difference. Cubic Zirconia's are heavier the real diamonds (about twice as heavy) and conduct much less heat. As well, because Cubic Zirconias are not as hard as real diamonds, under a jewelers 10x loupe you will be able see that the facets don't point properly and facet junction (where the facets intersect with each other) is rounded kind of with a lot of abrasions along the junction. Cubic Zirconia comes in many different qualities, depending on the grade and purity of the ingrediants used, and how much heat and pressure were used when it was created. Zirconium oxide, the main component in cubic zirconia is placed in a container formed of water cooled copper pipes. Metallic zirconium is then placed in the center of the powder and melted using high frequency radio waves. This in turn causes the zirconium oxide powder to melt from the center outward (like a microwave heats food). As this mixture cools, the cubic zirconia crystallizes. Different manufactures use slightly different mixtures of ingrediants, and different cooling times to create their own specials brands of cubic zirconia. Because cubic zirconia is manufactured, it is usually available in a variety of colors. You can get CZ's in all of the birthstone colors (and many more!) by adding different minerals during its creation. Although cubic zirconia jewelry is often made using stones that are machine cut and have been laboratory-made, there are various grades based on cut, color and clarity. As with any jewelry purchace, you may want to inspect your cubic zirconia jewelry for flaws that may not be obvious at first glance. Moh's scale of hardness classifies cubic zirconia as 8-8.5. This hardness allows for frequent wear of your cubic zirconia jewelry and cleaning using gem cleaner. Regular cleaning will maintain the brilliant shine that resembles the fire of a diamond.

Cubic Zirconia versus Diamond

Cubic Zirconia is so optically close to diamond that only a trained eye can differentiate between the two. There are a few key features of Cubic Zirconia which clearly distinguish it from diamond. It can be seen only under the microscope or loupe. The hardness of Cubic Zirconia is 8.5 vs. 10 of diamond. Cubic Zirconia is much heavier than diamond. It's weight is about 70% more than a diamond of equal size. Modern production of Cubic Zirconia is virtually flawless. Most Diamonds have some  imperfections, like feathers, included crystal, or a remnant of an original crystal face. Only the rarest of diamonds are truly colorless, most having a tinge of yellow or brown. By comparison, Cubic Zirconia can be entirely colorless, a perfect "D" on diamond's color grading scale.

Cubic Zirconia stones are cut from crystals grown in a laboratory. First used in the Russian space program to serve as a window to photograph through, it was not used in jewelry until 1969 when somebody decided to facet the material. Today, Cubic Zirconia (or CZ) is used extensively in jewellery as an inexpensive diamond substitute. Although CZ's may look like a real diamond, it is possible to tell the difference. Cubic Zirconia's are heavier the real diamonds (about twice as heavy) and conduct much less heat. As well, because Cubic Zirconias are not as hard as real diamonds, under a jewelers 10x loupe you will be able see that the facets don't point properly and facet junction (where the facets intersect with each other) is rounded kind of with a lot of abrasions along the junction. Cubic Zirconia comes in many different qualities, depending on the grade and purity of the ingrediants used, and how much heat and pressure were used when it was created. Zirconium oxide, the main component in cubic zirconia is placed in a container formed of water cooled copper pipes. Metallic zirconium is then placed in the center of the powder and melted using high frequency radio waves. This in turn causes the zirconium oxide powder to melt from the center outward (like a microwave heats food). As this mixture cools, the cubic zirconia crystallizes. Different manufactures use slightly different mixtures of ingrediants, and different cooling times to create their own specials brands of cubic zirconia. Because cubic zirconia is manufactured, it is usually available in a variety of colors. You can get CZ's in all of the birthstone colors (and many more!) by adding different minerals during its creation. Although cubic zirconia jewelry is often made using stones that are machine cut and have been laboratory-made, there are various grades based on cut, color and clarity. As with any jewelry purchace, you may want to inspect your cubic zirconia jewelry for flaws that may not be obvious at first glance. Moh's scale of hardness classifies cubic zirconia as 8-8.5. This hardness allows for frequent wear of your cubic zirconia jewelry and cleaning using gem cleaner. Regular cleaning will maintain the brilliant shine that resembles the fire of a diamond.

Cubic Zirconia Information and Jewelry

Cubic zirconia is the best diamond simulant currently available; its appearance is almost identical to diamonds. Furthermore, the chemical and physical properties of cubic zirconia are very similar to diamonds. Cubic zirconia has slightly less brilliance (sparkle) than diamonds, but much greater fire (flashes of rainbow colors). Even trained gemologists are often unable to distinguish between diamonds and cubic zirconia unless through a jeweler’s loupe. Using the naked eye, it is virtually impossible to tell the difference. Cubic zirconia is a relatively hard stone of excellent durability which makes it ideal for use in gold, platinum and silver jewelry.

In 1937 the cubic form of zirconium oxide was discovered by two German geologists. In the 1970's Russian scientists furthered this area of research by showing that cubic zirconia could be produced in a laboratory. In the 1980's Swarovski & Co., began mass producing cubic zirconia. Since then, cubic zirconia has become extremely popular with jewelry designers and is widely available.

Cubic zirconias are approximately 75% heavier than diamonds. This is important because some will state the carat weight in terms of cubic zirconia, while others quote carat weight in diamond equivalents. If carat weight is given strictly for cubic zirconia, then a 1 carat cubic zirconia would be smaller than a 1 carat diamond. Therefore, it is useful to know which system is being used. Our silver cubic zirconia jewelry is quoted in diamond equivalent weights. This means that a 1 carat cubic zirconia would be of the same size as a 1 carat diamond.

Today cubic zirconia is produced in fancy colors, such as red, green, pink, and yellow- simulating the fancy colored diamonds. When purchasing jewelry for formal occasions, cubic zirconia is an excellent choice. While the cost of elaborate diamond necklaces, earrings, pendants etc... may be prohibitive, cubic zirconia jewelry is just as beautiful and much more affordable.