Difference between Man-made diamonds and Cubic Zirconia
There are more choices than diamonds when it comes to precious gems, we have natural diamonds, synthetic stones, pearls, man made diamonds, and other natural diamonds. The diamond industry was striving with the flow of natural diamonds until the 1950s man made diamonds were introduced.
These lab grown loose diamonds gave good competition to natural mined diamonds, which led to the expansion of the man made diamond market.
But in the 1970s another component called Cubic Zirconia was introduced by the Russians. The cubic zirconia was invented in 1892, but it wasn’t until the 1970s that this component was used in jewelry. CZ is not a man made diamond, rather it only looks like a diamond.
Many consumers are confused between Cubic Zirconia and man made diamonds, let us tell you the difference between the two.
What are man-made diamonds?
The lab-grown diamonds are made in laboratory-facility. They can also be labeled as man-made diamonds or cultivated diamonds. Be it laboratory-grown diamond or diamond that is mined, both are very identical and hard to distinguish, even experts find it hard to differentiate between them.
The chemical and physical composition of these diamonds is similar because not only are they made using the same method but lab-grown diamonds take way less time to be produced.
What is Cubic Zirconia
CZ is a lab created material that is hard, colorless, and doesn’t have any flaws or inclusions in it. Due to the absence of any sort of inclusions, this man made material has immense clarity and brilliance. The term cubic was given in accordance with the crystal structure and the chemical composition of zirconia, which is zirconium oxide (ZrO2).
Cubic zirconia looks like a diamond but doesn’t possess the same chemical properties. It is much cheaper than a natural diamond or a man made diamond. This component can be synthesized in such a way that it will imitate different colors, and look like different colored diamonds.
History of Cubic Zirconia
The natural form of the mineral was discovered at the end of the 19th century (1892). It was after years of experimenting that in 1977 the Russians were able to synthesize this material to look like a diamond. It was made with the help of laser technology and was implemented in jewelry due to its high brilliance and clarity.
It was used in necklaces, engagement rings, earrings, and many other types of jewels owing to its low cost, durability, and similarity to diamonds. Cubic Zirconia was sold in the markets under the name of diamond simulants.
Difference Between Cubic Zirconia and a Man made Diamond
There are many differences between the two; chemical properties, color, method of creation. Here are the differences.
Method of creation
Man made diamonds are created in labs, inside chambers under controlled environments. The two methods opted for the creation of man made diamonds are: CVD diamond & HPHT synthetic diamond making method. It takes about 3 to 6 months for a man made diamond to fully form.
CZ or Cubic Zirconia is formed by melting powered Zirconium and Zirconium oxide together, in labs at 4982ºF. This produces flawless CZ which is inclusion-free and looks like a diamond.
- CZ is 1.7 times denser than man made diamonds
- Diamonds have a RI (refractive index) of 2.42, while CZ has a RI between 2.15-2.18
- CZ is not as hard as a lab-grown diamond. On the Mohs scale of hardness, diamonds measure 10, while CZ measures 8.5.
- CZ does not have the same chemical properties as that diamonds.
- The durability of man made diamonds are more than CZ. CZ can easily be scratched and cut into another shape.
- CZ is created from a mixture of Zirconium and Zirconium oxide. Lab created fancy diamonds are created by covering a tiny diamond seed, with layers of carbon.
- The dispersion value in diamonds-> 0.044, while the dispersion value in CZ->0.058-0.066
Facets and Cuts
CZ isn’t as hard as diamonds. Lab created diamonds, fancy diamonds, white diamonds, and color diamonds all have sharp edges, facets, and overall sharp cuts. CZ being softer has rough edges and facets.
CZ can be made to imitate many colors similar to man made diamonds; such as orange, pink, blue, green, etc. The clarity of CZ is equivalent to D on the diamond grading scale. The formation of a colored diamond simulant or colored CZ is done by adding different oxides in the initial process.
Man made diamonds are turned into color diamonds, by the adding of impurities like boron and nitrogen during the creation process. This results in fancy diamonds like a green fancy diamond, pink fancy diamond, orange fancy diamond, white diamonds, and other colors.
Lab-Grown diamonds are made to be perfect and hide all the blemishes and flaws a mined diamond might consist of. Therefore, lacking all the ‘natural imperfections’ and backing the fact that these diamonds are “just too perfect for a diamond”.
As we all know, imperfection decreases the cost of mined diamonds, which is the same cause of an increase in the authenticity of lab-grown diamonds. As they are considered to be more real. However, when opting for a lab-created diamond a VS1 or VS2 clarity is said to be the most economical choice.
When one goes shopping for cubic zirconia, aim for something that’s visually pure, which means there are no imperfections or inclusions visible to the human eye.
It should also be noted that clarity shouldn’t be the optimal method to tell lab-created diamonds and cubic zirconia apart as both these stones are equally pure and flawless due to their methods of production.
As man made diamonds have the same chemical, optical, and physical properties as natural diamonds. They are only 60%-80% cheaper than natural diamonds. lab created diamonds are considered real diamonds as they are equally hard, sparkle, and have the same clarity.
Cubic zirconia is not a real diamond but only a diamond simulant, due to which it has even lower prices than a lab grown loose diamond. The price of CZ is calculated by its carat weight.
The conflict between the real diamond and the fake ones has spread misinformation regarding both of them. Cubic Zirconia isn’t known for its brilliance or fire but one has to agree on the fact that it is one of the most sustainable and affordable alternatives to diamonds.
Diamond mining can be extremely harmful to the environment, whereas lab-generated diamonds produce significantly fewer emissions. If someone is looking for an investment option, it is better to avoid cubic zirconia in the long run.