Diamonds vs Cubic Zirconia: What’s The Difference?

Lab grown diamonds are a regular feature of modern jewellery, but cubic zirconia is an old name in this biz! As lab grown diamonds become more and more popular, everyone wants to know if cubic zirconias are going to get their big break. 

What is cubic zirconia? What is the difference between cubic zirconia and lab grown diamonds? As your fabulous guides, we will cover all of your questions on cubic zirconia vs lab diamond!

If you're here for some lab grown diamond details, you can find out more through our lab grown diamond guide. Or browse our stunning selection of lab diamond engagement rings.

Is Cubic Zirconia a Diamond?

The short answer is no, cubic zirconia is not a diamond. It’s classed as a ‘diamond simulant’, which means it is made to look like a diamond, but has a completely different makeup! 

The difference between cubic zirconia and diamond is obvious as soon as you see them: both gems have a cubic structure, and can look similar at a glance, but the likeness stops here. Diamond has a higher refractive index (how sparkly it is) of 2.4, while CZ scores 2.1. Diamond is also harder than cubic zirconia, as CZ’s are an 8.5, and diamond is a 10 on the MOHs scale. 

It doesn't take a jeweller to tell the difference between cubic zirconia and diamonds! An easy way to spot a cubic zirconia is the colour they reflect. Diamonds reflect white light, but the shine of a cubic zirconia will reflect rainbow sparkles, similar to moissanite! Our moissanite guide covers everything you need to know if you're curious about this gorgeous little gem!

What Is Cubic Zirconia Made Of?

If it isn't diamond, what is cubic zirconia made of? CZ is a synthetic mineral grown from zirconium dioxide!

As it is not naturally occurring anywhere in nature, unlike moissanite and alexandrite (which are incredibly rare), cubic zirconia is not considered a real gemstone. You can find zirconium dioxide in zircon inclusions, but not as a gemstone by itself. CZ is also completely different from zircon, as it has a different internal structure and Cubic zirconia's score is much higher on the Mohs scale!

The Cubic Zirconia Manufacturing Process

So how is cubic zirconia made? You need zirconium dioxide, but what do you do with it? Like all natural gemstones, manufacturing processes for lab grown gemstones require huge amounts of heat. Cubic zirconia is exactly the same!

A powder made of zirconium dioxide and some stabilising minerals is melted together, and when it begins to cool, crystals begin to grow.

Now you have your crystal, it's time for everything you’d do with a natural gemstone! Heat treating is used to improve the clarity and colour of the stones, and then the gems need to be cut into their shape!

Are Lab Grown Diamonds Cubic Zirconia?

So cubic zirconia is not the same as a diamond, it's not even the same as zircon. But is cubic zirconia the same as lab grown diamonds? 

Still no! Lab grown diamonds are identical to natural diamonds in every physical, chemical, and visual way! So, while cubic zirconia is also a colourless synthetic gemstone, it's definitely not a lab grown diamond. 

Take a look at our lab grown vs natural diamond guide if you’d like to know just how close lab grown and earth grown diamonds are!

Lab Grown Diamond and Cubic Zirconia Side by Side

Cubic Zirconia Price vs Diamonds

The biggest difference between diamond and cubic zirconia may be the quality, but if you're shopping for a ring on a budget, the first thing you’ll notice is the price difference. It might be heart stopping, but due to the simple, mass produced nature of cubic zirconia, something as rare and unique as an earth grown diamond is always going to come at a higher price!

Of course, if you’re looking for budget friendly but with all the quality of an earth grown diamond…. We might know a gemstone who can solve all your problems. A lab grown diamond! Our lab grown vs natural diamond price guide covers everything you need to know.

Are Lab Grown Diamonds The Same Price as Cubic Zirconia?

Unfortunately for diamond lovers, lab created diamonds are not exactly the same as cubic zirconia in price, either. Due to additional costs of manufacturing and the complexity of the process, lab diamonds are more expensive to produce and more expensive to buy!

As a pocket-friendly alternative to earth grown diamonds, lab grown diamonds still get you a massive discount! And while CZs are definitely cheaper than lab grown diamonds, due to the difference in quality and durability, you might end up spending more over time on a cubic zirconia centre stone. Why? Well, you’ll probably have to replace it every few years.

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Do Cubic Zirconia Lose Their Sparkle?

So, why would you need to replace cubic zirconia? Famously, over time cubic zirconia will lose its sparkle. This cloudy, dull appearance is because of the low durability of cubic zirconias. To keep your jewellery looking as stunning as it does on day one, you’d need to replace the stones regularly! 

This problem is so well known that the International Gemstone Society even recommends only ever setting cubic zirconias in silver or steel as the quality is not good enough to waste on precious metals.

Lab grown diamonds, on the other hand, are durable enough to deal with everyday wear. So your lab grown wedding or engagement ring will continue to take your breath away every single day!

Can You Wear Cubic Zirconia Everyday?

While you can wear cubic zirconia every day, we don't recommend it! The more you wear your cubic zirconia jewellery, the faster you will lose that sparkle. Cubic zirconia is a much better choice for rarely worn costume or replica jewellery. 

Cubic zirconia engagement ring replicas are one of the latest trends, and they are the perfect use for this inexpensive synthetic stone! Many people use replica cubic zirconia rings as a stress-free way to wear their diamond engagement rings on holiday. That way it doesn't matter if they get damaged or lost!

Ready to Find the Lab Diamond of Your Dreams?

At Jessica Flinn, we are strong proponents of a more environmentally conscious jewellery industry. This is why we are enthusiastic about working with synthetic diamonds, providing all the brilliance with a reduced carbon footprint.

The added benefits of a smaller price tag allows us to collaborate with you in bringing your dream ring to life, regardless of how elaborate it might be! Book an appointment with one of our team members today and find your perfect ring.

Should I Choose Cubic Zirconia or Lab Grown Diamond for an Engagement Ring?

You should choose a lab grown diamond vs cubic zirconia every time! At Jessica Flinn, we pride ourselves in producing high quality, unique rings. We want your engagement or wedding ring to last a lifetime, not just a year! 

We would never recommend choosing a cubic zirconia for your engagement ring. Because you may get the semi-diamond look with these lab grown gemstones, you don't get any of the benefits of a diamond! We never work with cubic zirconia, but we happily work with lab grown diamonds.

Find Your Dream Lab Diamond With Jessica Flinn

Whether you’re searching for a spontaneous proposal vibe, or you need our bespoke help on your carefully planned vision, we want to help! Shop ready to ship lab diamond engagement rings, or take at our bespoke ring design service if you're looking for something more personalised.

Think you’re ready to take the leap? Book in with our expert team to find your very own lab diamond dream! Want to know more about lab grown diamonds? Our comprehensive lab diamond guide answers everything you need to know!