Alternatives to diamonds extracted from the ground include lab-grown diamonds and cubic zirconia (CZ), both of which may be found in engagement rings. If you’re in the market for diamond engagement rings, you’ve probably seen these options. Both are reasonably priced, durable, sourced in an ethical manner, and favorable to the environment. So, cubic zirconia vs lab diamond: how to distinguish and what is better to choose?
Keep reading to learn more about these sparkling gemstones.
Table of Contents
Breaking it Down: Quick Comparison
To keep a lengthy tale short, here is a summary of the differences between laboratory-created diamonds and cubic zirconia:
- Both of these materials are excellent substitutes for genuine diamonds.
- Because of the luxurious quality that lab diamonds possess, they are well suited for use in engagement rings and other forms of fine jewelry. On the other hand, a ring made of CZ stones is much more affordable and is often used in the realm of casual jewelry.
- CZs are believed to be rather affordable, and to the untrained eye, they seem to be almost indistinguishable from diamonds. Because of this, they are the perfect diamond alternative for everyday usage in informal settings.
- Both come in a variety of colors and quality to choose from.
- Diamonds, man-made diamonds, and cubic zirconia may all be differentiated from one another by a skilled jeweler. Unlike CZ, a diamond that was created in a laboratory will pass the same laboratory tests as a genuine diamond.
- It is a widespread practice to utilize CZ gemstone as a diamond simulant despite the fact that it is technically classified as a synthetic diamond. On the other hand, a diamond that was manufactured in a laboratory is still regarded as a genuine diamond owing to the fact that its chemical makeup is composed entirely of carbon.
Understanding Cubic Zirconia: What Are the Basics?
The crystal structure and chemical make-up of cubic zirconia are entirely distinct from those of lab diamonds, despite the fact that both are synthetic stones made in a laboratory. CZ stone is a type of zirconium dioxide that has crystallized into a cubic shape, while created diamonds are comprised of carbon. It’s not a diamond, but it’s a more budget-friendly alternative to diamonds.
To produce CZ gemstone, zirconium oxide powder is melted at 4,982 degrees Fahrenheit with the addition of stabilizers like as magnesium and calcium. Crystals form and become stable after being removed from an environment of high heat for many hours. After that, the crystals are faceted and polished. The production of cubic zirconia may be carried out in a number of different ways, depending on the laboratory.
Different qualities of cubic zirconia are denoted by their respective grades. Since they are transparent and have no flaws on the inside, the cut and carat weight are the characteristics that need to be evaluated. The following are some of the classifications that are occasionally used to grade CZ: A, AAA, and AAAAA are the grades given.
- Stones with a grade of A are of the worst quality, and they are prone to being chipped, tarnished, and damaged
- Stones with a grade of 3A are in the middle of the quality spectrum, while stones with a grade of 5A are of the greatest quality and seem very similarly to diamonds
- In addition, 5A CZa are promoted as having been hand cut and polished, which is another reason why they are considered to be the highest quality forms of CZ
Because of its slightly higher density than that of diamond, CZ is the more substantial of the two. Even though they have the same amount of carat weight, a CZ gemstone and a lab-grown diamond will not have the same physical size; the diamond will be somewhat larger.
Discovering Lab Diamonds: What Are They and How Are They Made?
Consumers have access to a “genuine” diamond in the form of synthetic diamonds, which are identical to natural diamonds in terms of their chemical make-up, optical characteristics, and physical characteristics. Just like their natural counterparts, lab grown diamonds are composed entirely of carbon.
The process that is used to create natural diamonds and the process that is used to create lab grown diamonds are very similar. The only difference is that the natural diamond formation process takes place deep within the earth’s crust, while the laboratory-created diamond formation process takes place above ground in a controlled environment. The production process for lab-produced diamonds involves recreating the circumstances that are present during the formation of natural diamonds. These conditions include high temperatures and intense pressures, both of which are necessary for the transformation of carbon into a diamond.
The Battle of the Gemstones: Cubic Zirconia VS Lab Diamonds
Comparing lab created diamonds with CZ stones may be used to assess both materials.
All production is Pure Carbon
Contains Zero Carbon
Fossil Fuels Required
Water and Land Use
Are Lab-Created Diamonds Considered Cubic Zirconias?
Therefore, is a diamond produced in a laboratory the same thing as a CZ gemstone? Diamonds formed in a laboratory and cubic zirconia stones are not the same thing, despite the fact that they are manufactured in very similar ways and have very similar looks to one another. Simulant diamonds, such as cubic zirconia, are not recognized to be genuine diamonds, in contrast to laboratory-grown diamonds, which are believed to be genuine diamonds. This is due to the fact that artisan-created diamonds have the same physical and chemical qualities as their mined counterparts, but cubic zirconia stones have an entirely distinct crystalline structure from one another.
How They Are Created? The qualities of a man-made diamond are very comparable to those of a mined diamond, despite the fact that a synthetic diamond is produced from a minute portion of a mined diamond, also known as a diamond seed, and carbon. To such a degree that a professional in the diamond business who did not have access to specialized equipment would not be able to distinguish between the two stones. Even if you were to set a lab produced diamond in front of the reader of a diamond tester, the device would still identify the stone as a genuine diamond.
On the other hand, cubic zirconia stones are made from the mineral zirconium dioxide. And despite the fact that certain naturally occurring CZ crystals have been unearthed in the past, the vast majority of these stones are manufactured in a laboratory. In contrast to diamonds produced in a laboratory, real diamonds can be distinguished from laboratory-created diamonds by anyone, including amateur jewelers and people who have accumulated a significant amount of diamonds over the course of their lifetime, without the need for any specialized jewelry magnifying equipment.
Hardness. If you look closely enough, you can easily tell the difference between diamonds and CZ thanks to the distinctive qualities that they each possess. One key distinction between them, for instance, is the degree to which they are hard. Diamonds have the reputation of being one of the hardest minerals that can be found on earth. In fact, they are so hard that they are almost impossible to shatter and can slice through other hard material such as concrete and glass.
Even while CZ stones are much more durable than many other types of minerals, this does not mean that they are absolutely unbreakable. Cubic zirconia gemstones are susceptible to being scratched or even chipped if they are subjected to a forceful impact. On the Mohs scale of hardness, CZs are ranked at number 8, whereas mined diamonds and artificial diamonds both score in at number 10.
Carat. Since diamond is denser than CZ, the latter is the more desirable gemstone to use. Even though they both have the same total carat weight, a grown diamond and a CZ stone will not have the same physical size; the CZ will be somewhat smaller than the diamond.
Color. Completely colorless diamonds, also known as grade D diamonds, are very uncommon and fetch astronomical prices regardless of whether they were mined or created in a laboratory. The vast majority of engaged couples, on the other hand, search for diamonds that are rated G through J, which are quite close to being colorless. Even within this range, any yellow hue that the diamond may take on would not be discernible to the untrained and unaided sight of a person looking at it with their own two eyes.
On the other hand, CZs do not exhibit any visible color at all. They won’t have any color in them unless that color was chosen on purpose.
Physical Qualities. The outward manifestation of CZ gemstones and diamonds differs significantly, making this an additional important distinction between the two. Diamonds are renowned for their dazzling brilliance, which is widely acknowledged to be one of the stones’ primary selling points. This shine, also known as the brilliance of a diamond, is caused by the refraction of light by the diamond’s facets, which are the diamond’s edges and sides. The brilliance of a diamond is going to seem like a bright white light, while the brilliance of a cubic zirconia is going to look nearly like the colors of the rainbow.
Price. Because the production of CZ stones and man-made diamonds need different environments in the laboratory, the price range for these two types of stones is also distinct from one another. Crystallized zirconia will have a lower price point compared to lab-grown diamonds.
Availability. As a result of the fact that they are manufactured in laboratories rather than extracted from the soil, CZ and lab diamonds are readily available.
Put to the Test: Which Gemstone Passes the Diamond Test?
Because artisan-created diamonds possess the exact same chemical and physical properties as real diamonds, they are able to pass authenticity tests with flying colors. However, there is a method that may be used to differentiate between natural and diamond simulants; but this method requires the use of specialized equipment that can only be found in a gemological laboratory.
We are switching to CZ stone. Due to the vastly differing levels of heat conductivity between a diamond and a CZ, a CZ will never pass the same tests as a genuine diamond.
How to Tell a Lab Created Diamond from a Cubic Zirconia: 4 Ways You Need to Know
Now that you are aware that the answer to the question “Is a cultured diamond a cubic zirconia?” is “no,” we want to share some advice with you on how to distinguish between the two (without specialized apparatus).
Test for Fog
A fantastic technique to tell whether your stone is a diamond or a CZ is to test it with your breath while you are evaluating mounted or pronged jewelry, such as diamond rings or diamond earrings. Diamonds have the ability to dissipate heat because of the extreme heat and pressure needed to create one. Therefore, it’s unlikely that your heated breath or a hot, steamy shower would cause your diamond to fog up, and even if they did, it would probably only do so briefly.
The converse is true with CZ stones, which would probably continue to be fogged for a longer period of time than a diamond. Use a magnifying glass or your reading glasses to examine the findings after inhaling some hot air onto the stone to perform the fog test.
It has been found that CZ stones do not have the same amount of brilliance as mined diamonds or diamonds that have been created in a laboratory. Walking outdoors or going into a place that has a lot of light and putting the stone up to the light is another technique to determine whether or not the diamonds in your favorite diamond bracelet or diamond pendant are genuine diamonds. If it refracts a neutral light that is more grey or white in color, it is most likely a mined or lab-grown diamond. If you hold your stone up to the light and notice that it refracts a considerable lot of color, then the stone in question is most likely zirconia.
Another option available to you is to make use of a UV lamp.
Taking a glance at the stone is yet another method for figuring out if it is made of diamond or CZ. If you have access to a magnifying glass, the features that you can make out on the stone can be sufficient to assist you figure out what it is. Even while diamonds have a reputation for being flawless, and in some ways they really are, the vast majority of diamonds contain flaws of some kind. Inclusions are minute scuffs and nicks that are found on the inside of a diamond. These defects, which are known as flaws, are there because of the production process, which is characterized by intense pressures and high temperatures. Because of the process through which laboratory-created diamonds are produced, the vast majority of them, especially HPHT diamonds, will include inclusions.
It is quite unusual for diamonds to be entirely devoid of inclusions, and if such a thing were to occur, the resulting stone would command an extraordinarily high price. When compared to lab-grown diamonds, CZ stones almost never have inclusions because they are created artificially using processes that are vastly different from those used to create synthetic diamonds. This means that the presence of inclusions can be used as a reliable indicator of the authenticity of a stone when viewed through a magnifying instrument.
Water is yet another excellent instrument that may be used in the process of determining whether or not the stone in question is, in fact, a genuine diamond. Even though this approach is said to be more successful for stones that have not yet been set, you can still use water. Because diamonds have such a high specific gravity, if you were to drop one into a cup of water, it would most certainly sink to the bottom of the cup in a very short amount of time. If you were to drop a stone made of CZ stone into water, it would still sink to the bottom; however, it would not do so as quickly as diamonds.
The Final Verdict: Which is Superior – Cubic Zirconia or Lab Diamonds?
A grown diamonds diamond is the better option to go with if you are searching for a precious gemstone that can be used in both everyday fine jewelry and an engagement ring. If it were cut correctly, a lab-grown diamond would have far more brilliance, fire, and sparkle, in addition to being tougher and more long-lasting.
CZ gemstone, on the other hand, is a less expensive alternative to diamonds that comes in a rainbow of hues and can be purchased at a lower cost. This makes it a potentially more attractive purchase.
There are several popular substitutes for diamonds, including lab diamond and CZ gemstones. The following table presents a comparison of the benefits and drawbacks associated with each option, with the goal of assisting you in selecting the solution that best meets your needs. In a controlled environment in a laboratory, diamond crystals are produced in an artificial way from carbon to produce lab-made diamonds. On the other hand, CZ is a man-made gemstone that is produced in a laboratory and is designed to resemble a diamond. However, CZ outperforms diamonds created in a laboratory in terms of durability while costing far less. Because man-made diamonds are tougher than CZ and possess the same physical and chemical features as natural diamonds, it is difficult to differentiate them from mined diamonds.