Diamond vs. Cubic Zirconia: How to Tell the Difference? – ThePeachBox
Diamond vs. Cubic Zirconia: How to Tell the Difference?

Diamond vs Cubic Zirconia: How To Quickly Spot Their Differences?

Looking at both stones under natural light, diamonds show a strong white light (the "diamond's fire" or "brilliance") whereas cubic zirconia gives off much more colored lights (the "rainbow effect") as cubic zirconia has a lower refractive index and higher dispersion rate than diamonds.

Another difference is that cubic zirconia is heavier than diamonds and of course... way cheaper. Why is that?

READ: The Woman Shaking Up the Diamond Industry

The Story Behind Diamond Rings

Diamond rings, as we know it, began as an ad campaign. It was aimed at young men. The key idea behind the advertising was that there is no romance without diamonds The ad campaign went on to judge a man’s success by the type of diamond he bought.

The ad campaign then turned to popular culture to sell this idea to young women. Its message was that you can tell the extent of a man’s love for you by the size and quality of the diamond.

A Diamond is Forever

A diamond ring became synonymous with commitment. Therefore, women expected to receive one when being proposed to.

This was the result of yet another successful marketing strategy. In the 1940s, the slogan “A Diamond is Forever” was born. It was written:

"Even though diamonds can, in fact, be shattered, chipped, discolored, or incinerated to ash, the concept of eternity perfectly captured the magical qualities that the advertising agency wanted to attribute to diamonds.”

The idea of endless romance and lifelong companionship conquered the hearts of young lovers.

In 1977, the Russians grew synthetic crystals. They marked them as Djevalite, or imitation diamonds. They only became fashionable a few years later.

Swarovski, a renowned jewelry company, sold its own version of simulant diamonds. Swarovski abbreviated the term cubic zirconium to CZ. From there, the product hit it off.

The Origin of Diamonds

There are two types of diamonds: natural and synthetic.

Mined diamond comes from the earth’s crust. The carbon is heated. Then, it is put under pressure. As a result, a natural diamond is formed.

Synthetic diamonds are man-made. They mimic mined diamonds.

Cubic zirconia comes from zirconium oxide. It is a good choice for socially conscious women. Why do they prefer cubic zirconia over diamonds? Cubic zirconia is lab-made. It is more sustainable. It is also more ethical than diamonds that have been extracted in conflict zones.

READ: You Won’t Believe Where Diamonds Come From

How long will cubic zirconia last?

Cubic zirconia ranks between 8.0 and 8.5 on the Mohs mineral hardness scale: diamonds score a 10. So cubic zirconia is more likely to get scratched or chipped. Over time, its appearance also becomes cloudy.

Which stone is more resistant: a diamond or cubic zirconia? To answer this question, let’s talk about the Mohs scale. It measures mineral hardness. From a scale of 1 to 10, it determines how scratch-resistant a mineral is.

Diamonds score a 10 on the Mohs scale. They are the world’s hardest natural material. Diamonds are very durable. They require little maintenance in keeping their shine. That’s why brides-to-be prefer diamonds to cubic zirconia engagement and wedding rings. They are more suitable for jewelry that is worn regularly.

Therefore, more care is required for cubic zirconia than for diamonds. On occasion, have your jeweler clean your cubic zirconia.

READ: Why Smart People Buy Cubic Zirconia Engagement Rings

blue diamond on black background

The Colour of Diamonds vs. Cubic Zirconia

When diamonds and cubic zirconia are side by side, they are hard to tell apart.

Diamonds are classified by color. The grading scale starts at D and ends at Z. The D colored diamonds are clear. Colorless diamonds are the most valuable stones on the market. The Z colored diamonds, on the other hand, are yellow.

Cubic zirconia is lab-made. However, it rivals the beauty of a D colored diamond. Cubic zirconia stones are generally colorless.

What should you know about colored diamonds and cubic zirconia? Different colors exist for both types of stones.

Colored diamonds are highly-priced. Colored cubic zirconia is quite affordable.

round diamond on black background

The Clarity of Diamonds vs. Cubic Zirconia

Clarity is another characteristic that sets diamonds and cubic zirconia apart. However, it only applies to colorless diamonds. There are different grades of clarity. These range from Flawless to Included. A diamond’s clarity determines its value.

How about cubic zirconia? Like the diamond, it is also colorless. However, it stands out because of its clarity. It is flawless. Diamonds have imperfections. This is normal. Yes, even for those that are graded as flawless. These imperfections are called inclusions. The presence of inclusions determines a diamond’s authenticity.

The Dispersion factor

Diamonds are dazzling. What makes them shine and sparkle? The answer is diamond dispersion. It is the way light enters into a diamond. In turn, it reflects light in a rainbow of colors. Jewelers refer to this flash of light and color as a diamond’s fire. A diamond’s dispersion rate is 0.044.

For extra bling, opt for cubic zirconia. Its rainbow effect is much more pronounced. This is because of its higher dispersion rate. The difference in dispersion level between diamonds and cubic zirconia is more obvious in larger carat sizes. For a similar fire as a diamond, buy smaller cubic zirconia.

Does Cubic Zirconia Shine Like a Diamond?

Diamonds have a refractive index of 2.42. That of cubic zirconia is lower. It ranges between 2.15 and 2.18. Diamonds have a greater capacity of holding light than cubic zirconia. 

The Refractive index is the way light reflects off a gemstone. It doesn’t rank a mineral’s sparkle. Rather, it indicates the depth of its brilliance.

The Density of Diamonds vs. Cubic Zirconia

Density determines the heaviness of a gemstone. Jewelers weigh diamonds through a point system called carats. Diamonds have a lower density than cubic zirconia.

What happens if you place a diamond and cubic zirconia of the same size next to each other? Size isn’t relevant. Due to its density, the diamond is lighter than cubic zirconia.

What is a Cubic Zirconia Diamond Worth?

Cubic zirconia simulants are way cheaper than mined diamonds.

A flawless 1 carat round colorles diamond graded D costs around $12,000  whereas a 1 carat cubic zirconia is only worth $20.

As the carat size increases the cost difference between cubic zirconia and diamond grows even larger.

Check this diamond price calculator here.


Are Cubic Zirconia Diamonds Worth Anything?

The price difference between diamonds and cubic zirconia is great! Does that mean cubic zirconia is worthless? It has very little monetary value.

Diamonds are very valuable. Owning one is a symbol of social status. It also exudes class and prestige. Today, it is an investment. Tomorrow, it can be an heirloom. The value behind a gemstone’s sentimentality is priceless.

Interestingly, cubic zirconia a great choice for travel. Are you on a shopping spree in New York City? Perhaps you are enjoying a fruit salad by an infinity pool. Either way, you’ll have peace of mind. Why? You are wearing a replica of your ring in cubic zirconia. Show it off! It is just as beautiful. Better still, in case of loss or theft, it won’t cost anywhere as much to repair or replace. Your diamond ring is safe at home.

READ: Jewellery’s Value Lies in its Emotional or Sentimental Worth

diamond on ring debeers advertisement

Marketing in Today’s Diamond Industry

Today, 75% of American women are wearing a diamond engagement ring. Men spend an average of $4,000 on a ring. It continues to symbolize commitment and love.

What are ad campaigns in the diamond industry like now? According to Forbes magazine, they are keeping up with the times. In the 21st century, women support feminism and gender equality. Women are economically independent. Additionally, a growing number of individuals buy jewelry. And this, for all kinds of occasions. The new slogan now targets single, young women. And it goes like this: “Women don’t need men - they can buy diamonds for themselves.”

Is Cubic Zirconia Better Than Diamonds?

Diamonds and cubic zirconia look similar.  However, they are very different. There are eight major characteristics that set them apart. These are the origins, durability, color, clarity, dispersion, refractive index, density, and value. Jewelers weigh in all of these factors to determine a diamond’s worth.

If you are looking for an investment that will last a lifetime, choose the diamond. For a ring that will make your friends jealous, buy a diamond. The woman who adorns herself with diamonds lives in luxury and style.

The practical woman values the convenience of cubic zirconia. They are stunning, but for a fraction of the price. If you value sustainability, go for cubic zirconia.

Ultimately, it is the sentimentality that we attribute our gemstone that determines its value. Only you can decide what diamonds mean to you.