When it comes to the world of gemstones and jewelry, cubic zirconia and lab-created diamonds are two terms that often pop up. Both have their unique attributes and can be visually similar, but they are fundamentally different in origin, composition, and value. In this comprehensive exploration, we will shed light on the differences between cubic zirconia and lab-created diamonds, helping you make informed choices for your jewelry collection.
Cubic Zirconia: A Synthetic Substitute
Cubic zirconia (CZ) is a synthetic gemstone that has been around since the 1970s. It is not a diamond but rather a cubic crystalline form of zirconium dioxide. CZ is created in a laboratory setting using a specific process that involves heating zirconium dioxide and yttrium oxide to extremely high temperatures. The result is a brilliant, clear gemstone that can mimic the appearance of a diamond. CZ is less costly than diamonds, making it an attractive option for those on a budget.
Lab-Created Diamonds: Grown from Carbon
Lab-created diamonds, on the other hand, are genuine diamonds that are cultivated in a controlled laboratory environment. They are also known as synthetic or man-made diamonds. These diamonds are created by replicating the natural conditions under which diamonds form deep within the Earth’s mantle. Carbon is subjected to high pressure and temperature, resulting in the growth of a genuine diamond crystal. Lab-created diamonds have the same physical, chemical, and optical properties as natural diamonds and are virtually indistinguishable from them.
- Composition: The fundamental difference lies in their composition. Cubic zirconia is zirconium dioxide, while lab-created diamonds are pure carbon, just like natural diamonds.
- Hardness: Diamonds are the hardest natural substance on Earth, scoring 10 on the Mohs scale of hardness, while cubic zirconia ranks at about 8-8.5. This means diamonds are more durable and less prone to scratching.
- Value: Lab-created diamonds retain value like natural diamonds, while cubic zirconia has significantly lower intrinsic value. Genuine diamonds are considered investments, while CZ is more of a fashion accessory.
- Brilliance: While cubic zirconia can be quite brilliant, lab-created diamonds exhibit a unique fire and brilliance due to their crystal structure.
- Price: CZ is a budget-friendly option, making it accessible to a wider range of consumers. Lab-created diamonds are more affordable than natural diamonds but still carry a higher price tag than CZ.
In the debate of cubic zirconia vs. lab-created diamonds, both have their merits and serve different purposes. Cubic zirconia offers an affordable way to enjoy the look of a diamond without the high cost, making it an excellent choice for fashion jewelry. Lab-created diamonds, on the other hand, provide an ethical and environmentally friendly alternative to natural diamonds, with all the physical properties of the real thing.