When it comes to stones, crystals and diamonds, there are a lot of variants available in the market. Mined real diamonds, man-made real diamonds, synthetic stones, semi-precious stones and cubic zirconia, among many others.
While the market of real man-made diamonds is fast expanding owing to the choices of conscious consumers who do not want to support the blood diamond industry, there’s another variant that’s trying to compete with it – cubic zirconia. A much inferior variant, CZ is not a diamond. It just looks like a diamond. Originally developed in Russia, a number of countries are now producing it.
A lot of consumers do not know what exactly CZ is and mistake it for lab-grown real diamonds. They are not the same. Let’s tell you all about CZ and how its different from man-made real diamonds.
Cubic zirconia is a material similar to a diamond in brilliance and clarity. It is a synthesized man-made material that is colorless, hard and without any flaws. Cubic refers to the crystal symmetry and zirconia is the chemical composition, zirconium oxide. It looks like a diamonds and is much cheaper compared to man-made diamonds. CZ can be made in different colors to imitate the different colors of a diamond. A number of people started producing CZ in 1976 owing to its diamond-like qualities, low cost and durability. It is widely used today as a diamond simulant.
Cubic zirconia was invented in Russia in the 1970s, as a diamond alternative for use in laser technology. Later, the jewelry industry starty using CZ because of its sparkle and brilliance that is similar to diamonds. Now, CZ is used in almost all kinds of jewelry – necklace, rings, engagement rings, earrings and more.
No, CZ is not a diamond, nor does it have the chemical properties of a diamond. It is almost as hard as diamond on the Mohs scale of hardness. It is an 8.5 and a diamond is a 10. CZ may look like a diamonds, sparkle like a diamond, but it is not a diamond. It is a man-made material. Its amazing sparkle has made it a favorite option for jewelry. Moreover, it can be cut in the same shapes as a diamond to replicate a diamonds.
CZ and man-made diamonds vastly differ from each other in its chemical properties, color, price, and the process of making. Here are the differences:
CZ does not have the chemical properties of a diamond. It is almost as hard as diamond on the Mohs scale of hardness - an 8.5 compared to a 10 of diamonds. That is why the durability of man-made diamonds is much more than CZ. CZ is easier to scratch unlike man-made diamonds.
Whereas man-made real diamonds are created from diamond seeds and use temperatures and pressures for its creation, CZ is created from zirconium and zirconium oxide to produce a new material that looks like diamonds.
The density of CZ is 1.7 times denser than a diamond’s density.
Diamond has a refractive index of 2.42 whereas CZ has an index of 2.15-2.18.
There’s a vast difference in the dispersion of diamonds and CZ: Diamond 0.044 and cubic zirconia 0.058-0.066.
CZ crystals are made in labs through a process that melts powdered zirconium and zirconium oxide together. This mixture is heated up to 4982ºF to obtain flawless CZ.
Man-made diamonds are created in labs by using two processes: High Pressure High Temperature (HPHT) and Chemical Vapor Deposition (CVD). In these processes, selected diamond seeds are placed on a metal disk inside a growing chamber. The seeds go through various processes over 10 to 12 weeks. A combination of gases, pressure and temperature create an environment that allows carbon atoms to break down and rain upon the seeds. Atom-by-atom, the seeds transform into rough diamonds.
Cubic zirconia is clear and flawless and equivalent to “D” on diamond’s grading scale. It also comes in other colors, such as green, orange and pink to imitate man-made real diamonds. The colors are created by using different oxides in the diamond creation process. Most man-made diamonds have a brown or yellow tinge to them, and only the rarest are colorless.
CZ is much softer compared to real man-made diamonds. When cut and polished CZ has much rounded edges and facets compared to man made real diamonds. The real diamonds grown in labs have facets with sharp edges.
Real man-made diamonds are more expensive than CZ. That is because CZ is a synthetic crystal, whereas man-made diamonds are real diamonds. CZ too, can be of exceptionally high quality, which will increase its price. The price of CZ is determined by its carat weight.
Consumers who want to buy quality jewelry must go for man-made diamonds and avoid buying jewelry that is made of CZ. The market, sellers and advertisements might try to convince you to purchase CZ, but now that you know it is not even a diamond, why would you want to spend money on buying something artificial and fake.
Market surveys have indicated that the market of man-made real diamonds is estimated to garners USD 27.6 Billion by 2023 from USD 16.2 Billion in 2016. In comparison, the market for CZ has been uncertain and diminishing. However, with the number of variants, it is for the conscious consumer to decide what they want to possess and in return support.
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