Cubic Zirconia vs. Diamond: 6 Differences All Jewelry Lovers Should Know

Are you shopping for some new jewelry for yourself or a loved one?


Maybe you're trying to plan out the perfect engagement, so you need the perfect ring to match. Whatever the reason, it's time to get something new and flashy.

But what are you going to choose?


When it comes to gemstones, you have many options. There are colorful ones like rubies, sapphires, garnets, and so many more. There are popular stones like aquamarine and opal.


Exact options like diamonds and cubic zirconia are some of the most popular stones for engagement rings, but what's the difference between the two? There's much controversy about whether one is better than the other, but the truth is, there are pros and cons of cubic zirconia and diamonds depending on the wearer's interests.

We're here to talk about the differences so you can make an informed choice. Read on for more!


1. Durability

When people talk about the hardness of objects, they often compare them to diamonds. Diamonds are considered the hardest naturally-occurring material on earth. On the Mohs scale (an easy scale for measuring the hardness of minerals), it ranks at a 10, the highest option.


This makes diamonds scratch-resistant and break-resistant. They're great options for rings that you'll be wearing full-time (like engagement rings). While it isn't typical for stones, humanmade or otherwise, to chip, engagement rings get much use, and it's easy to accidentally bang them into something while cleaning or going about your day.


Cubic zirconia, however, isn't quite as strong.


To be fair, it's a strong material. It's durable compared to softer stones like opal and quartz, but it ranks at 8.5 on the Mohs scale. This means that it's more likely to scratch or break.


Nothing compares to the durability of a diamond.


2. Where They're Sourced

Diamonds are controversial due to their sourcing practices.


It's common now to find ethically sourced diamonds or lab-grown diamonds. These are safe to purchase without guilt. You can also buy diamonds secondhand at vintage stores, and while these diamonds may have been sourced in an unethical way, you aren't contributing to the industry.


Diamonds often come from mines that exploit workers (both adults and children). These workers are put in unsafe conditions, and they work long hours. It's not too different from slave labor (or the sweatshop conditions of fast fashion).


Diamond mines are also horrible for the environment.


Cubic zirconia is always made in a lab. For this reason, there are no mines or exploited workers involved. Cubic zirconia is sustainable and ethical, and you never have to doubt its source.


3. Brilliance

In terms of jewelry, "brilliance" refers to the flash and refractory ability of a stone. This is measured on a refractive index. Cubic zirconia's refractive index ranges anywhere between 2.15 and 2.18. This is low in comparison to the diamond's refractive index: 2.41.


So what does any of this mean, and why is it important?


Do you ever notice the "flash" effect from a diamond? Good light refraction gives diamonds their signature sparkle and depending on their cut, and they can be identified by this alone. Some people refer to this flash as the "fire" within the diamond.

Cubic zirconia doesn't have this flash. The stones may sparkle in a small way, but overall, they look flatter. They can, however, give a rainbow effect. While this isn't a mark of quality, some people prefer it.


4. Clarity

You may hear the term "clarity" when you're talking about diamonds, but what does this mean?

Natural diamonds are not flawless most of the time. Because they come from nature, they have slight irregularities like any other stones. This is considered a minor issue as each irregularity makes the diamond more unique.


Flawless diamonds are expensive because they're rare. Flawless diamonds aren't genuinely flawless. They can still contain small irregularities, but they won't appear to the naked eye or the average wearer.


On the other hand, the cubic zirconia is always flawless. Because it's made in a lab, it has perfect clarity. There's no reason to include any flaws.


5. Color

When we think of diamonds, we think of clear gems. Clear gems are the most popular option as they go with anything, and they're more "rare," but there are other options.


Diamonds come in different colors. While the pure white diamond is the industry standard (and cubic zirconia cannot compare), some people want brown, pink, or even yellow diamonds to complement their styles. These diamonds are often cheaper than white ones, but they still come at a high cost.


For colorful gems, cubic zirconia is a great affordable choice. Because they're made in a lab, they come in every color of the rainbow for the same low cost.


6. Cost

This is one of the most significant differences between cubic zirconia and diamonds, and it's the most important one for anyone shopping for their next piece of jewelry.


Diamonds are expensive. Even if you're buying them secondhand, you can expect to spend thousands of dollars on rings with natural diamonds of any quality. While lab-grown diamonds are more affordable, they still come at a hefty price for anyone on a budget.


Cubic zirconia is affordable for anyone. It's often the "cheap" option for customized jewelry, but that doesn't make it a wrong choice. Because not everyone can spot the differences between the two, it makes a beautiful gem for any kind of jewelry. Not every budget can support the high price tag of diamonds.

Check out Dreamland Jewelry for some beautiful examples of cubic zirconia jewelry that prove that a lower price doesn't have to mean a lack of beauty.


Cubic Zirconia or Diamonds? You Decide

There are pros and cons to both cubic zirconia and diamonds.


When it comes to a low budget, cubic zirconia is a valid choice that still makes for a beautiful piece of jewelry.

Diamonds may have more flash and a purer "white" color, but the cost is prohibitive for many people, and the ethics are questionable.


Which will you choose for your next piece of jewelry?


For more posts on all of your favorite valuables, check out the rest of our site.

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