CZ stone cut in Russia

Russian Cut Cubic Zerconia.

Cubic Zirconia is Not the Same as Diamond.

Are you Considering a CZ vs diamond as your “Gem” of choice for getting married?

Is cubic zirconia on your radar for your engagement ring? You’d save a lot of money…. Do I approve? No! As a passionate wedding jewelry designer I’ll tell you why in technical and emotional terms.

Facts and Answers to Burning Questions

First I’ll talk about CZ’s and how to tell CZ from Diamond and then I’ll answer the questions that have come in the comments.

CZ vs. Diamond, a Poor Substitute

Cubic zirconia—commonly called CZ—is widely used as an inexpensive diamond substitute. To the untrained eye, a brand new CZ looks like a real diamond. This is why many people substitute them for the real thing.

Orange CZ Skull

Hey Cool a Skull Made of CZ. But I’m Not Using it in My Wedding Ring!

Does this mean it’s alright to put one in your wedding ring? For a number of reasons, the answer is NO! A CZ is to diamond what brass is to gold. The two substances may look similar—especially when new and clean—but they’re not!

Unlike diamonds, CZ’s scratch and become dull and lifeless over the long term. They don’t sparkle like real diamonds either once you’ve worn them for a bit.

What is Cubic Zirconia?

Three year old CZ with scratched top

Note the Out of Focus Looking Ring Around the Flat Table of This CZ. That is worn away CZ material. They Don’t Hold up.

Technically, cubic zirconia is zirconium dioxide. It’s a relatively hard synthetic mineral. It’s optically flawless, usually colorless, though it can be made in a variety of colors.

Don’t confuse cubic zirconia with zircon. The latter is a real gemstone. CZ’s are not. CZ’s are grown in a lab. We December babies who have zircon as a birthstone are not happy!

For a thorough explanation of CZ. go to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cubic_zirconia

Four Ways to Tell the Difference Between CZ and Diamond

Close up of diamond with older cut

Notice the Clear Sharp Edges of  the Table, (center flat part of diamond) of This Older Cut, Thirty Year Old Diamond. They do Hold up.

1. The Sharpness of Facet Junctions Test

Many of today’s CZ stones have ‘softer’ facets than diamonds.

Try the Huff Test:

2. The Huff Test

Hold the stone in question next to a diamond and “huff” on them with your hot breath. Both stones will fog up. The diamond will clear up rapidly, while a CZ will take a little longer. This is due to diamond’s greater thermal conductivity.

3. The Ink Test

ink behind cz and diamond

You Can See the Black Ink Behind the CZ

Because of the different make up of diamonds on CZ, one way to tell them apart quickly when they are unset is to try to read through them.

4. The Scratch Test

The Sandpaper Test

I don’t recommend this. When I get a bunch of small diamonds in, I scrape each one on a piece of sandpaper. Once in a while one shows the scratch.

Then I get out my diamond tester. Bing, red zone, that is not a real diamond.

Sometimes on tiny stones a CZ slips in. Well it’s not going to make it into my jewelry. The scratch test is faster for me that using my electronic diamond tester.

The Real Cost of Cubic Zirconia

Sale Sign

I Couldn’t Believe the Ridiculous Prices Online for CZ!

Perusing the internet the other day, I was astounded at the prices jewelers—and the regular public—were quoting for CZ’s. I saw them costing anywhere from forty dollars per carat to hundreds!

One site said that CZ’s cost about one-tenth of what a diamond does! That means that if a one carat diamond went for $6,000, a CZ of the same size would cost $600. Nothing could be farther from the truth! If you paid more than $20 or $30 for one—whatever the size—you probably paid too much.

Diamonds vs. CZ’s, What Are You Saying with Your Gem Choice?

Diamonds are the hardest natural substance on Earth. As I mentioned, they rarely scratch, they don’t cloud up, and degrade over time. Like the famous slogan says, “A diamond is forever.” A cubic zirconia? Not even close.

Black and White Diamond Ring

This Diamond Ring Has Black Diamonds on the Side and Curlicue Edge Details

Diamond rings mean something. They’re a symbol of love, marriage, and eternity.   Diamonds don’t degrade over time and the rings in which they’re set get passed down from generation to generation. CZ rings? Not so much. Diamond rings are valuable. CZ rings? Nope!

CZ’s are cheap. A few grande lattes at Starbucks would cost more. So would a toaster or two tickets to the movies and snacks for you and your significant other.

Diamonds are valuable. They’re important and precious. They always have been and always will be. Diamonds stand for a lasting, sparkling love. CZ’s…not so much.

“Wouldn’t it be cheaper to replace CZ every few years than to get a diamond?”

CZ vs Diamond

What a CZ Worn Daily Looks Like. This Ring Was Worn for Five Years.

Technically, it would be cheaper to buy a new cubic zirconia once a year for many years than it would be to buy a diamond, but there are other costs to consider.

If your intention is to replace your CZ every time the shine fades, then you need to remember to factor in the cost of labor to un-set the old and re-set a new CZ.

White gold ring with bent back prongs

How Many Times Can You Bend Back Those Prongs

While we’re at it, just like twisting a paperclip back and forth will break it, your ring prongs will not put up with your yearly back and forth un-setting and re-setting action without needing replacement. The labor and replacement, with prong work, may over time still be cheaper than having a diamond, but at what cost to your ring? Quite a bit if you stay married very long. Which I sincerely hope you do.

“CZ is so close to diamond on the Mohs Scale of gemstone hardness, so Diamond is only slightly better, right?”

Mohs Scale of Gemstone Hardness

The Moh’s scale of hardness is not a numerical scale. A number is assigned to the next hardest gemstone in this scale.

This would be a gemstone that can scratch the previous gemstone. That doesn’t mean that the next level of hardness is for example 10% harder than the previous gemstone. It could be 100% harder or it could be 13% harder.

For example, the difference between a sapphire, which is 9, (corundum on the scale) and a diamond, which is 10 is considerable. A sapphire will chip and scratch way before a diamond will and yet they are one numeric level of hardness away from each other on the scale.

A diamond is much harder than sapphire.  So a CZ, which is at 8.5 is not close in hardness at all to a diamond.  There is a very large gulf between the 8.5 on the Mohs scale of hardness of CZ and the 10 of diamond.

Diamonds, CZ’s, and You and Getting Married

Colorful CZ ring

CZ’s in Many Colors for Your Right Hand.

You would never buy a brass or aluminum wedding ring, right? You’d get one made out of gold or platinum. Gold and platinum are valuable. Brass and aluminum are not. Brass is for plumbing fixtures and aluminum is for cheap pots and pans. Likewise, diamonds are for weddings. CZ’s are for cocktail parties.

Last Word on Cubic Zirconia

There’s nothing wrong with CZ’s in costume and less expensive jewelry—especially the kind your teenage daughter wears to school everyday (more than likely, on more body parts than you would care to think about).

When it comes to matrimony, however, stick with the real thing. Choose a diamond.

Passionate Wedding Jewelry Designer,
Calla Gold

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About Calla Gold

Calla Gold is a Personal Jeweler and Author who takes pride in working with clients one-on-one to integrate their personal sense of style and taste into custom designed jewelry and repaired jewelry pieces.   Unlike typical Santa Barbara jewelry businesses, Calla Gold has no brick-and-mortar location. Calla Gold comes to you, bringing you the jewelry collection you want to see and collaborating with you to create unique custom jewelry. Calla also works with at-a-distance clients.

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Tracey M.
Tracey M.
7 years ago

I think that orange cz skull is so cool too, but I’m with you, diamonds for wedding rings, not cz!

Jennie Jacobs
7 years ago

I love the passion in your voice Calla! I love the idea of alternative stones for wedding/engagement rings, but the truth is, you want a ring that will last a lifetime, that you can wear through daily life without the worry of stone’s safety.

Linda Havlik
7 years ago

Calla,

Your comparison between Diamonds and Cubic Zirconia clearly defined the BIG differences. I knew diamonds were better, but in a vague way. Now I have the facts about diamonds vs cz and it’s good to know.

I look forward to the day when I can upgrade my diamond with you!

Oh…and YOU are a STAR Emcee! Great job this weekend as emcee for the Santa Barbara Business Expo!!

Linda H.

CZ Girl
7 years ago

Great Blog! This post was Informative and Well Written! We do sell CZ and this was our introduction to Calla Gold Jewelry.
CZ Girl

Joe
7 years ago

This is a great post… I’m glad you shared it as I was actually looking into CZ for my own wedding ring… after realising the difference I think diamond is the only way to go!

Katherine
Katherine
6 years ago

It is amazing how much money people waste on CZ rings. There are women who pay almost as much as a diamond. Some people think its the smarter choice in terms of money but its not because a diamond lasts forever.

RITE
RITE
6 years ago

Unfortunately, Cubic Zirconia IS a crystal similar to Diamond (diamond Cubic). I consider most of your points emotional. The scratches, degradation of luster are to be proven. Simply we want to appreciate Diamond because it is naturally occurring.

Em
Em
Reply to  Calla Gold
4 years ago

If a ring is an emotional purchase representing love, do you find there is a direct correlation between how much a ring costs and how much a couple loves each other? Or how long the marriage will last?

Jenefier Adams
Jenefier Adams
Reply to  Calla Gold
2 years ago

FYI: they make plastic or silicone wedding bands now.

Jack
Jack
6 years ago

Wouldn’t it be *substantially* cheaper to replace a CZ every few years than get a diamond? Diamonds aren’t rare — the high price is just the result of corporate monopoly and the emotional attachment is due to a very successful 20th century ad campaign from the men at Madison Avenue.

Diamonds may have more sparkle, but optically are much more flawed.

Nika
Nika
Reply to  Calla Gold
4 years ago

This sounds like you have a solid investment in diamonds. Oh, what’s that? Right, you’re a jeweler. So if people start buying CZ’s instead of diamonds, you lose thousands. This article is extremely bias, and petty. CZ’s have a lot of possibles and pros. You sound like a car sales man telling the guy who wants to ride a bicycle to work that he’ll regret it! (It, being keeping in shape and not polluting the environment.) You’re stamping out the possibly that a CZ can be a great starter ring if placed in the right setting, and it’s increably cost… Read more »

Joseph
Joseph
Reply to  Calla Gold
3 years ago

It’s the thought that counts

J
J
Reply to  Calla Gold
2 years ago

The flaw in your analogy for raggedy cut jeans and flip flops is that they look entirely different lol. I understand where ur coming from but your argueing a invalid point. Diamonds are consumerism at its finest, and unless theyre conflict-free, theyre not for a good cause whatsoever. Try would you where an almost identical suit to a business meeting, that will simply degrade quicker over time? Well thats up to the buyer to decide. I wear a cz bracelet, and simply for the fact it was given to me from my granny its worth more than a diamond anyday… Read more »

Commenter
Commenter
Reply to  Calla Gold
2 years ago

White i agree with your point in the article of getting diamonds over CZ being a good decision, i felt like giving my opinion on your analogy above i think it is very flawed. Getting CZ instead of diamonds is like getting a cheap pair of dress shoes from Walmart, sure they look similar for the first bit but the quality does show over time. CZ looks very similar but it is not, its a lower quality, its different. Also i think saying getting CZ is disrespectful is a bit overboard. If you are trying to trick your bride into… Read more »

Jack
Jack
6 years ago

Thank you for the response. Your blog post at top described CZ: “It’s optically flawless, usually colorless” Every diamond you see has imperfections in it. To some people, that gives them meaning. While a diamond is obviously very hard and resistant to wear, the idea of putting a chunk of carbon in the center of a ring because it’s artificially expensive and shiny seems to be purely an emotional one, and one that was only fabricated in the past century. CZ do not look bad, by your own words, and are the better value. Why give so much money to… Read more »

Ramon
Ramon
Reply to  Calla Gold
4 years ago

Lab grown diamonds are real diamonds, not being naturally made doesn’t change that diamond is a diamond regardless of where it came from. Your emotions about diamonds aren’t even your own, they were installed into you by marketing, it’s just s cheap rock that pretty and very durable. You’re defending a marketing ploy to get people to pay big money for rocks dug out the ground. None of your arguments make a lick of sense to a thinking person who sees the scam for what it is, there’s big money in selling rocks to stupid people.

Paul
Paul
6 years ago

Wow what anger at how others chose to spend their money.
One argument you omit is that there is no such thing as a “blood CZ”.

Rings are symbolic gesture and as such their symbolism and the sincerity behind their giving is far more significant than anything else.

Lastly diamonds are valuable purely because we say so. “Diamonds may be a girls best friend” but frankly that is the kind of girl that the world could do without.

Viliami
Viliami
Reply to  Calla Gold
4 years ago

“Diamonds are not just valuable because we say so, but because they are so well liked.”

That is incorrect, they are only valuable because of successful marketing, they aren’t rare, or of high value like gold, the jewelry stores all have a huge markup on them and that’s where diamonds get their artificial “value” from. The sparkle isn’t worth nearly as much as you think.

Nicholas A Loyd
Nicholas A Loyd
Reply to  Calla Gold
2 years ago

Dear Calla, You are right that if a product doesn’t deliver that people fall away, however, did you ever think about the nostalgic part of it? Where we remember growing up hearing about how if you loved a woman all you would do is get her a diamond, if you loved a woman you would get her a really expensive ring, if you love the girl you would put a diamond ring on it, if you want to marry someone you don’t get the cubic zirconia you get the diamond. Even from Jewelers I hear the comment, if you don’t… Read more »

John Savidge
John Savidge
Reply to  Calla Gold
2 years ago

Diamonds are expensive because DeBeers manipulates the supply. I will not do business with a monopoly no matter how indirectly. Anyone who has sold a diamond becomes instantly aware of the obscene markup on their original purchase.

Michael Babinski
Michael Babinski
Reply to  John Savidge
2 years ago

Ha! Always someone who wants to claim Diamonds are common and worthless. Defensive much? So is a painting, a sculpture… you can’t eat them. How does the fact that DeBeers had an advertising campaign invalidate their product? Plenty of things are advertised.

The reality in today’s world is that DeBeers lost control of the market long ago and diamond prices are set by demand versus the rigors of finding and mining them.

Avoid diamonds if you wish, but don’t try to justify it by claiming that they’re worthless.