What is difference between cubic zirconia (CZ) vs diamond?

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Cubic Zirconia (CZ) is an inexpensive diamond alternative with many of the same qualities as a diamond. This crystalline material (or CZ) is synthetic, which means it is created in a laboratory. 


Jewelers first started using cubic zirconia as a faux diamond substitute in 1969. Since then, it’s become one of the most popular alternatives to diamonds. Cubic zirconia is a synthetically produced gemstone. That means, instead of being mined from under the earth, it can be produced in clean laboratory conditions. Zirconia can be found naturally, but it is too rare and brittle to be used.

The gemstone is made out of crystalline zirconium dioxide. The laboratory starts with zirconium oxide – a kind of gritty, mineral powder - and heats it to 5000 degrees Fahrenheit. The laboratory mixes in other minerals during the process as well to add color and make the gemstone more resistant.

Hardness Comparison between Cubic Zirconia vs Diamonds

Pearly Lustre Cubic Zirconia Table


Pearly Lustre Cubic Zirconia vs Diamonds appearance

As it cools, the new mix of minerals naturally forms into cubic crystal shapes. This helps give cubic zirconia its clear, bright, diamond-like shine. Unlike similar stones – such as white zircon – cubic zirconia has fire. Fire is what jewelers call the flash of light that you see from diamonds.

Cubic zirconia is hard and smooth, like natural gemstones. It comes in a range of colors, including red, lilac, aqua, amber, and pink. This makes the stone versatile, as it can be used for other gem alternatives in addition to diamonds.


Originally, cubic zirconia was created to provide a more affordable alternative to diamonds. Today, it is still easier to purchase than mined diamonds, yet has continued to rise in price as its gained popularity. Now that cubic zirconia is recognized in its own right, you can expect jeweler’s prices to rise.