Cubic zirconia (CZ) is a manufactured crystal that is often compared to a diamond because of its reflective and malleable qualities. Its hardness and brilliance is similar to a diamond, making for a great imitation. Cubic zirconia was originally developed in Russia as a synthetic gemstone using highly advanced laser programs. Now, cubic zirconia jewelry includes engagement rings and wedding rings, as well as earrings, pendants, necklaces and bracelets. This kind of jewelry is set in silver sterling and gold.


Grades and Quality

What determines the quality of a cubic zirconia is the cut and size of the stone. To be more precise, the 4Cs that are used to measure the value of diamonds are also applied on this gemstone; namely, clarity, cut, color and carat. All of these play a role in determining the price and value of a cubic zirconia.


Elements

Cubic zirconia is made of zirconium oxide (ZrO2), an extremely rare mineral in nature, but one that is easily synthesized as a diamond stimulant.


Colors

Cubic zirconia comes in an impressive assortment of colors. There are the popular hues of a colorless look, or white, and the bubbly pink. There is also the unusual color of purple, which is similar to deep purple amethyst. Other colors are subdued champagne (light brown) and the more vivid tones of emerald green, blue sapphire and orange.


Advantages

Cubic zirconia and diamond have similar qualities and an almost identical appearance that it is hard to tell them apart. However, CZ is more affordable than a diamond. It is actually just a fraction of the cost of diamond jewelry. In the diamond clarity chart, CZ has a high clarity grade of F, which is almost perfect. Other good points of cubic zirconia are its practically flawless surface without external blemishes and internal inclusions, its hardness of about 8.5 on the Mohs scale that gives it much resistance to scratching and makes it harder than most natural gems, and its ability to be made into a colorless gemstone that is equal to a perfect Grade D on the color grading scale. For a colored cubic zirconia on the other hand, it is extremely versatile. Due to its synthetic quality, it can be made into a variety of colors. Lastly, cubic zirconia is 75 percent heavier than diamond.


Disadvantages

One of the disadvantages of cubic zirconia is that it is not a very good investment. As a synthetic gemstone, it does not hold its price. Most of the time, you cannot resell it for a higher price. Another downside is that it has more “fire,” giving off a more synthetic effect. The colorless or white-white color is less believable when put alongside the white-white colored diamonds, as the latter are extremely rare. Although cubic zirconia reflects light like diamonds, it has less sparkle and thus, less brilliance. Furthermore, cubic zirconia is brittle and has less durability to resist breakage from impacts and falls. Unlike diamond jewelry, cubic zirconia does not have the same elite status, and it does not indicate wealth and timeless elegance. If you are looking for rarity, cubic zirconia does not fit the bill. It can be easily made in huge quantities, making it a common kind of jewelry.