How Is Cubic Zirconia Different From A Real Diamond?

Have you ever wondered how cubic zirconia differs from a real diamond? While they may appear similar at first glance, these two gemstones have distinct characteristics that set them apart. In this article, we will explore the key differences between cubic zirconia and real diamonds, shedding light on their composition, durability, and value. By the end, you’ll have a clearer understanding of what makes these gemstones unique and how to distinguish between them. So, let’s dive into the fascinating world of cubic zirconia and real diamonds!


Chemical composition of cubic zirconia

Cubic zirconia, often referred to as CZ, is a synthetic gemstone that is composed of zirconium dioxide (ZrO2). The chemical formula for cubic zirconia is ZrO2, which means it is made up of one zirconium atom and two oxygen atoms. This composition gives it a high refractive index and a brilliant sparkle, similar to that of a real diamond.

Chemical composition of a real diamond

A real diamond, on the other hand, is a naturally occurring gemstone composed of carbon atoms. The chemical formula for a diamond is simply C, representing carbon. The carbon atoms in a diamond are arranged in a crystal lattice structure, which gives diamond its exceptional hardness and optical properties.

Physical Properties

Crystal structure of cubic zirconia

Cubic zirconia has a crystal structure that is different from that of a real diamond. As the name suggests, cubic zirconia has a cubic crystal structure, meaning that its atoms are arranged in a symmetrical, cube-like pattern. This crystal structure contributes to the brilliance and fire of cubic zirconia.

Crystal structure of a real diamond

A real diamond, on the other hand, has a crystal structure known as diamond cubic. In this structure, each carbon atom is bonded to four neighboring carbon atoms in a tetrahedral arrangement. This crystal structure is highly stable and is responsible for the exceptional hardness of diamonds.


When it comes to hardness, diamonds are famously known as one of the hardest materials on earth. They have a hardness rating of 10 on the Mohs scale, which means they are extremely resistant to scratching. In contrast, cubic zirconia has a hardness rating of 8-8.5 on the Mohs scale, making it significantly softer and more susceptible to scratches.

Specific gravity

Another physical property that sets diamonds apart from cubic zirconia is specific gravity, which measures the density of a mineral. Diamonds have a specific gravity of approximately 3.52, while cubic zirconia has a lower specific gravity of around 5.65-6.0. This difference in density is one way gemologists can distinguish between the two stones.


Color variations in cubic zirconia

Cubic zirconia can be produced in a wide range of colors, mimicking various gemstones such as rubies, emeralds, and sapphires. This versatile gemstone can also be created to resemble a colorless diamond. The color in cubic zirconia is usually achieved through the addition of different metal oxides during synthesis.

Color variations in real diamonds

Real diamonds also come in a variety of colors, but they are most commonly known for their transparent or colorless appearance. However, diamonds can also occur naturally in different colors such as yellow, brown, blue, and even rare pink and red shades. These colored diamonds, known as fancy diamonds, are highly prized for their unique beauty.


Affordability of cubic zirconia

One of the biggest advantages of cubic zirconia is its affordability. Due to its synthetic nature and lower production costs, cubic zirconia is significantly cheaper than real diamonds. This makes it a popular choice for those who want the look and sparkle of a diamond without the high price tag.

Expensiveness of real diamonds

Real diamonds, on the other hand, are known for their high value and price. The rarity and natural formation of diamonds contribute to their expensive nature. Additionally, factors such as carat weight, color, clarity, and cut quality can greatly influence the price of a diamond. While diamonds may be a luxurious investment, they are often seen as a symbol of love and prestige.


Clarity characteristics of cubic zirconia

Cubic zirconia is known for its exceptional clarity. Unlike real diamonds, cubic zirconia is created in a controlled environment, which allows for the elimination of impurities and flaws. As a result, cubic zirconia often has a flawless appearance with few or no visible inclusions.

Clarity characteristics of real diamonds

Real diamonds, although prized for their clarity, may have various clarity characteristics. These can include inclusions, which are internal flaws, and blemishes, which are external flaws. The clarity of a diamond is graded on a scale ranging from Flawless (no visible inclusions or blemishes) to Included (inclusions visible to the naked eye). The presence of these characteristics can affect the overall value and beauty of a diamond.


Optical properties of cubic zirconia

Cubic zirconia is renowned for its exceptional brilliance and fire. Its high refractive index allows light to enter and bounce around multiple times within the stone, resulting in a dazzling display of sparkle. This is one of the key reasons why cubic zirconia is often used as a diamond simulant.

Optical properties of real diamonds

Real diamonds, with their unique crystal structure, exhibit extraordinary optical properties. They have a high refractive index and excellent light dispersion, which gives them a natural brilliance and fire. When light enters a diamond, it undergoes total internal reflection, creating a captivating sparkle that is highly coveted.


Resistance to scratching

Diamonds are renowned for their exceptional hardness, scoring a 10 on the Mohs scale. This makes them highly resistant to scratching and abrasion. On the other hand, cubic zirconia, with a hardness rating of 8-8.5, is not as durable and can be more prone to scratches and wear over time. It is important to handle cubic zirconia with care to avoid damaging its surface.

Resistance to damage

While diamonds are extremely hard, they are not entirely indestructible. They can chip or fracture if subjected to a hard blow or sharp impact. Cubic zirconia, being softer, is also susceptible to damage under similar circumstances. Both stones should be protected from knocks or extreme pressure to maintain their integrity.

Resistance to heat

Another aspect of durability is resistance to heat. Diamonds have excellent thermal conductivity, meaning they can withstand high temperatures without sustaining damage. Cubic zirconia, however, has a lower thermal conductivity and may be more vulnerable to thermal shocks. Extreme heat can cause cubic zirconia to crack or even melt, so it is essential to avoid exposing it to excessive heat.


Synthetic production of cubic zirconia

Cubic zirconia is a lab-created gemstone. It was first synthesized in the 1970s as a diamond simulant and has since gained popularity for its affordability and visual similarity to diamonds. The synthetic process involves heating zirconium oxide in the presence of stabilizing elements to create the desired crystal structure.

Natural formation of real diamonds

Real diamonds are formed deep within the Earth’s mantle, where intense heat and pressure transform carbon atoms over millions of years into diamond crystals. These crystals are then brought to the surface through volcanic activity or erosion. The natural formation of diamonds is a geological process that requires specific conditions and timescales, contributing to their rarity and value.

Industrial Uses

Applications of cubic zirconia in industries

Due to its affordability and visual similarity to diamonds, cubic zirconia has found various industrial applications. It is commonly used as an alternative to diamonds in jewelry, particularly in costume and fashion jewelry. Cubic zirconia is also utilized in laser technology, semiconductors, and even as a refractory material.

Applications of real diamonds in industries

Real diamonds have been prized for their exceptional physical and optical properties for centuries. They are widely used in the jewelry industry for high-end pieces, where their rarity, durability, and brilliance are highly valued. Diamonds also have a range of industrial uses, including cutting and grinding tools, heat sinks for electronics, and as a component in specialized scientific equipment.

Symbolic Value

Emotional and symbolic significance of cubic zirconia

Cubic zirconia may not carry the same level of emotional and symbolic significance as real diamonds, but it does have its own appeal. As an affordable alternative to diamonds, cubic zirconia can be a beautiful and accessible option for expressing love and celebrating special occasions. It allows individuals to enjoy the aesthetic qualities of a diamond-like gemstone without the financial burden.

Emotional and symbolic significance of real diamonds

Real diamonds hold a deep emotional and symbolic significance. They are often associated with love, commitment, and eternal devotion, making them a popular choice for engagement and wedding rings. The rarity and enduring beauty of diamonds make them a treasured heirloom and a timeless symbol of wealth, status, and enduring love.

In conclusion, cubic zirconia and real diamonds have distinct differences in their composition, physical properties, cost, clarity, brilliance, durability, origin, industrial uses, and symbolic value. While cubic zirconia offers an affordable alternative and can mimic the appearance of a real diamond, it cannot match the rarity, durability, and emotional impact of a genuine diamond. Whether you choose cubic zirconia or a real diamond, each has its own unique beauty and can hold special meaning to the wearer.