Birthstone: Cubic Zirconia can be used as an alternative to diamond, April's birthstone.
What is Cubic Zirconia?
Undoubtedly the best diamond alternative and value available today, Cubic Zirconia has been established as an affordable diamond substitute as well as an important fashion staple in itself. It is a synthetic gemstone made from Zirconia sand and zirconium metal. The cubic zirconia story began in 1937, when the cubic form of zirconium oxide was discovered by two German mineralogists. It wasn’t until the 1970’s, however, when Soviet scientists learned how to “grow” this mineral in a laboratory where it was developed as an alternative to diamond for industrial processes before gradually becoming popular with jewellers.
Cubic zirconia is made by adding tiny pieces of zirconium metal to zirconia sand, applying an electrical current which melts the zirconia sand and then cooling the molten liquid very slowly, otherwise known as ‘growing’ the crystal. The crystal can then be cut and shaped into stones for jewellery.
Cubic Zirconia Vs. Diamond
- Cubic zirconia has slightly less brilliance (sparkle) than diamond, but has more ‘fire (flashes of rainbow colours).
- There are very few substances on earth harder than cubic zirconia. With a hardness rating of 8.5, CZ comes close to matching diamond’s perfect 10. Yes, CZ will scratch glass, just like a diamond.
- Because cubic zirconia is grown in a lab in a controlled environment, if the crystal is not perfect in clarity it is simply not used.
How to care for cubic zirconia
Cubic zirconia will continue to sparkle for years as long as you keep it clean. The best way to clean cubic zirconia is to brush the stone with a soft brush, for example a soft bristled toothbrush, with mild soap and warm water. Rinse the stone with clean water and wipe dry with a soft cloth. Do not soak any glue set stones as this can compromise the setting. For glue set stones, wipe the stone clean with a damp cloth and dry thoroughly before storing.