Cubic zirconia (CZ) has long been a popular choice for those seeking an affordable and attractive alternative to natural diamonds. Its brilliant sparkle and affordability have made it a favorite in the world of jewelry. However, many potential buyers and owners wonder: Can cubic zirconia break? In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into the durability of cubic zirconia, examining the factors that can affect its integrity and providing you with a complete understanding of this gemstone’s strengths and weaknesses.
What is Cubic Zirconia?
Before we explore its breakability, let’s clarify what cubic zirconia is. CZ is a synthetic gemstone created in a lab. Its chemical composition is zirconium oxide, which is similar to natural diamonds but lacks the geological processes that give diamonds their exceptional hardness. CZ is known for its dazzling brilliance and can be colorless or come in various colors, making it a popular choice for jewelry.
The Mohs Scale of Hardness
To understand CZ’s susceptibility to breaking, we must first look at its hardness. The Mohs Scale of Hardness is a standard scale used to measure the hardness of minerals and gemstones. Diamonds, which are the hardest natural substance, rank at the top with a score of 10. CZ, on the other hand, ranks at 8 to 8.5 on the Mohs Scale, which is impressive but not as hard as diamonds.
Factors That Can Lead to Cubic Zirconia Breakage
- Scratching: While CZ is relatively hard, it is not entirely scratch-resistant. It can develop surface scratches over time, especially if exposed to abrasive materials or rough handling. These scratches can affect its brilliance and overall appearance.
- Impact: CZ is more brittle than diamonds, which means it is more susceptible to cracking or chipping upon impact. A hard blow or a drop onto a hard surface can potentially cause cubic zirconia to break.
- Heat: Extreme heat can also be a concern. CZ can withstand normal wear and exposure to sunlight, but prolonged exposure to high temperatures, such as in a jewelry-making process, can damage or even crack cubic zirconia.
Preventing Cubic Zirconia Breakage
To keep your cubic zirconia jewelry looking its best and minimize the risk of breakage, consider the following tips:
- Store your CZ jewelry separately from other items to prevent scratches.
- Avoid wearing CZ rings during activities that could expose them to impact, such as sports or heavy labor.
- Protect your CZ jewelry from extreme heat and sudden temperature changes.
- Regularly clean your cubic zirconia pieces to maintain their brilliance.