Sunday, June 1, 2008

What is Cubic Zirconia?

Cubic Zirconia is well known as a substitute for diamond, due to its high hardness and great fire. But in recent years, it has established itself as a gorgeous gem in its own right. CZ is a beautiful synthetic gemstone that is durable and inexpensive and now even comes in any color of the rainbow, making it even more desirable.

History of Cubic Zirconia

Cubic Zirconia was discovered in its natural state in 1937 by two German mineralogists, von Stackelberg and Chudoba. It was in a highly metamict zircon given to them by B.W. Anderson. The zircon contained tiny crystals that were determined to be the cubic form of zirconium oxide by x-ray diffraction. The two mineralogists thought so little of their discovery that they did not even give it a name; which is why it is still known by its scientific name, cubic zirconia. (Nassau, 1981) It wasn't until the 1970's, however, that Soviet scientists learned how to grow the crystals in the laboratory. ( In 1977, it was first marketed under the trade name "Djevalite." ( But CZ really took off in the 1980's when Swarovski & Co., a world-renowned Australian producer of leaded crystal, began producing cubic zirconia for mass consumption. (

Compared to Diamond

To the untrained eye, cubic zirconia looks identical to a good quality diamond, but CZ has slightly less brilliance or sparkle than a diamond and more fire or flashes of color. The overall effect is so similar that it can even fool a trained gemologist on occasion. One great difference between cubic zirconia and diamond is weight; CZ is about 75% heavier than diamond. A piece of CZ the same size as a one carat diamond weighs about 1.75 carats. CZ is also more brittle than diamond and softer. ( Cubic Zirconia is also flawless, whereas diamond usually contains impurities and inclusions. (