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What is cubic zirconia
Cubic Zirconia or also know as CZ is a cubic crystalline material that is similar to a diamond and can come in many colors. Cubic zirconia has the look and sparkle of a diamond, but it is synthetic which means manmade in the lab. Cubic zirconia is flawless, colorless, and hard similar to a diamond. Cubic zirconia is often used as alternative of diamonds because it's more affordable and very alike. It is difficult to tell the difference between cubic zirconia and diamond apart by naked eye, but only by trained specialist, or special instrument could tell the difference. However, cubic zirconia is neither a diamond nor a real gemstone and also, not to be confused with zircon and zirconium.
History of cubic zirconia
Zirconium oxide was first discovered in 1892, in a yellowish mineral baddeleyite. Zirconium oxide had a very high melting point, which made it very hard for controlled growth of single crystals. Soon, in 1930, a stabilized zirconia was introduced and was used for refractory material because of its resistant to heat.
In 1937, two German mineralogists discovered a naturally occurring cubic zirconia as microscopic grains in a melted zirconium oxide by x-ray. However, at that time, the two mineralogists thought that it wasn't considered an important discovery and didn't give a name to it. So, cubic zirconia retained its scientific name.
Few years later, The Russia was developing a laser technology that used a ruby to emit a laser light, but ruby was and still is very limited. So scientists needed to find an alternative material. A synthetic material could replace ruby and has the same characteristic of ruby, which was cubic zirconia. A cubic zirconia doesn't have the same characteristic as ruby gemologically, but it was able to serve its purpose optically for laser technology. Soon, some of the early research of synthetic began in 1960 from France and was perfected by a Russian scientist in 1973 at Moscow.
As someone thought it would be a great idea use cubic zirconia for jewelry, because of its similarity with diamond. At 1976, Cubic zirconia began to be mass produced but never made an impact on jewelry marketplace until Swarovski & Co. began selling cubic zirconia gem stones in 1980. Also, it is believed that Swarovski abbreviated the cubic zirconia into "CZ ". Recently, many manufacturers started to improve cubic zirconia to increase the resemblance to diamonds. One of recent creation is, applying a finishing coat to the cubic zirconia with a compound called DLC that improves hardness and the brilliance.
Cubic zirconia vs diamond
The main difference between cubic zirconia and diamond is hardness, color, weight, and cost.
When measured with Mohs hardness scale, diamond measures 10 on Mohs scale and known as hardest known material. CZ scores 8.5 when compared with diamond, it isn't that hard but CZ is still harder than most of a natural-gemstones.
When it comes to colors, CZ can be made absolutely colorless because it's synthetic. Diamond may have a hint of yellow because truly colorless diamonds are very rare.
CZ has a higher density than diamond. When measured with same sized CZ and diamond, CZ will be about 1.7 heavier than diamond.
The cost difference is very large. Diamond is very expensive due to its rarity, but CZ is mass produced and has a low cost. When 1 carat diamond cost about $7000, Same 1 carat CZ can be purchased less than $10
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