A lot of our threader earring and jewellery range features sparkling Cubic Zirconia stones – but why should you choose Cubic Zirconia (CZ) over real diamonds?
First, what is CZ? It is typically a lab-made gemstone, which is the cubic crystalline form of zirconium dioxide (ZrO2). In nature, it can rarely be found as baddeleyite – but everything you see in the shops will be made in a lab.
Because it is artificially created, Cubic Zirconia is usually inherently colourless and flawless. Clear flawless diamonds by comparison cost a small fortune! In fact, they don’t really exist – because even a ‘white’ diamond may still have a slight yellow, grey, or brown tint visible to the trained eye, hence the D – Z colour scale. This is one major advantage of CZ over diamonds – you can buy a beautiful, bright flawless stone for next to nothing.
Above: Sterling Silver Rhodium Plated CZ ring
CZ is readily available because if we need more of it, we just make more! But diamonds aren’t as rare as you’ve been led to believe either. In fact, they are one of the most common gems! Rubies, sapphires, or emeralds are actually rarer.
We perceive diamonds to be rare because of the way they have been sold to us over the years. In the 30s, the De Beers corporation set up the first large-scale diamond mines in South Africa and began one of the most successful advertising campaigns in history. They managed to convince consumers that engagement rings should always have a diamond. Hollywood happily bought into diamond fever and before long, the stone became a status symbol for the rich and famous. The corporation went on to take control of the rough diamond supply, stockpiling supplies to manipulate prices and rarity. It is alleged that they used tactics such as murder and kidnapping to achieve this.
Even today, many diamonds are ‘blood diamonds’. Despite Leonardo DiCaprio making the term blood diamond a household phrase in 2006 and much being achieved since then, 65% of mined diamonds come from Africa where exploitation of men, women and children within the industry is still a significant issue. The majority of the world’s biggest jewellery and watch makers do not know where their diamonds come from. Find out more here.
Above: CZ is not always colourless! These heart threader earrings feature beautiful rich red CZ
Despite their reputation, diamonds are not the most expensive gem. Rubies, emeralds and sapphires comparatively fetch more, if you compare the highest quality available gems of the same size. Again, it’s just marketing that has made us believe otherwise.
Diamonds aren’t all precious either. They come in many different grades. Some are coloured and include flaws. When you purchase diamond jewellery with lots of little stones, these are likely to be low quality and of little worth. The overall weight may be stated as ‘1 carat’ (for example) but you’re not buying a 1 carat diamond – you’re usually buying a lot of little worthless chips. You might as well choose the same design with CZ so you’re getting the same sparkle without paying an inflated price for the word ‘diamond’. By contrast, CZ is, of course, far more affordable and this makes it possible to buy some quite sizeable ‘solitaire’ style pieces for very little cost.
A downside of Cubic Zirconia is that it isn’t as hard as diamond, so it may scratch or wear down without proper care. By contrast, diamonds will scratch other surfaces! This isn’t really an issue if you look after your CZ jewellery properly.
CZ also reflects a little different to a diamond, having a different refractive index. Hold a Cubic Zirconia upside down and you’ll see mostly orange and blue flashes – while a diamond will instead give off the entire rainbow of colour. Whilst we’re often led to believe that this ‘fire’ is an exclusive property of the diamond, that’s also untrue. Rutile, which can also be synthesised (Titania) has so much of that ‘fire’ that it is no longer favoured as an imitation diamond – it just isn’t passable! Ultimately, to the trained eye, diamonds are more ‘brilliant’ but to most of us, this won’t be obvious and CZ is a perfectly acceptable alternative.
Last but by no means least, there’s another excellent reason to choose CZ over diamonds and that is to reduce the environmental impact of diamond mining, which is devastating. It causes irreversible damage to water resources, air quality, wildlife and soil quality, whilst driving climate change. Find out more in this report by Imperial College London. Diamonds are clearly not the environmentally-friendly choice.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this brief comparison of CZ to diamonds, and I hope you enjoy our range of beautiful threader earrings and jewellery featuring sparkling Cubic Zirconia stones!