You may have heard all about the cubic zirconia being the perfect alternative to diamonds when you need something sparkly and bright but not as expensive and only for a fraction of the cost of the diamonds but do cubic zirconia stones shine the way diamonds do? They are equally stunning, but will they look that great forever?
Are the differences in their clarity levels imperceptible? Can you fool everyone around you that you’re wearing diamonds with a CZ ring?
Let’s talk about the clarity and brightness of cubic zirconia and how they compare with diamonds.
About the cubic zirconia Clarity
Cubic zirconia or CZ is often a great alternative to diamonds for anyone shopping for good-quality jewelry on a budget. But they are not the same as diamonds.
The first thing differentiating them is that while diamonds are mined, CZ are made in the lab from zirconium dioxide and additives like calcium oxide or yttrium.
The result of the lab creation of CZ is high-clarity crystals that are clear and are cut like diamonds. They are also quite hard.
Because of CZ’s high-precision lab creation process, they hardly have imperfections or inclusions the way natural diamonds are. So, you never really expect any inclusions in CZ.
So, how is the clarity level of CZ graded? Are these lab-made stones graded the same as diamonds?
While CZ stones are all expected to be bright and shiny, this isn’t always the case because even in the controlled manufacturing environment, these stones can still come out a tad cloudy or hazy.
And as a result, the clarity of CZ will directly affect the quality and the price of the stones. The highest quality CZ stones are 6A, and 5A graded cubic zirconia stones, which are top-of-the-line CZ stones cut by the top-rated stone cutters and curators, resulting in a remarkable level of clarity that is seen in these stones.
Mid-level, good-quality CZ stones are the AAA cubic zirconia stones, the most common stones used in jewelry making, and the A-grade CZ, which make up the lowest quality of stones used in the cheapest CZ jewelry.
Finally, the cut of the CZ stones will also affect the quality and appearance of the stones. The cut is also the most important quality feature for CZ, just like diamonds, because the cut is what gives the stones personality. The most common cuts for CZ stones include the princess, brilliant, heart, and trilliant cuts.
Note that the high clarity of diamonds is why the CZ are seen as too perfect and easily seen as fakes.
Do cubic zirconia crystals sparkle? Does cubic zirconia shine like a diamond?
One of the most notable differences between CZ and diamonds is the sparkle and the fire of the stones. A look at two of these shiny stones with a similar cut will reveal that the CZ is a lot more sparkly, with more colored light or fire seen in the CZ stone than in the diamonds.
And so experts argue that this is the dead giveaway that allows easy identification and differentiation of the brightest CZ from brilliant diamonds.
Notably, the fire and brilliance of CZ and diamonds are determined by the cut of the stone because the cut determines the amount of light that is reflected through the stone to your eyes. That white reflection is the stone’s brilliance, while the reflection with the colored light is the stone’s fire.
CZ doesn’t have any true fire or brilliance, and they also have a much smaller degree of refraction between 2.15 and 2.18 against the diamonds’ 2.42 index.
This difference in the refractive index comes from how light travels in the stones, and how light travel in CZ is quite different from how it travels in the diamonds. Because of the difference in how light travels through the stones, CZ reflection is lower than the reflection in diamonds.
On the other hand, CZ boasts a higher dispersion rate than diamonds, which gives CZ the rainbow effect, which means that, unlike diamonds, CZ reflects a lot more colored light and this dispersion and the rainbow colors make for easy identification of CZ from diamonds.
So, considering these elements, there is no doubt that despite the beauty and spark in CZ, diamonds are still superior with more brilliance and fire.
Is cubic zirconia shinier than a diamond?
No. Because of the lower refractive index of the CZ compared to diamonds, diamonds are shinier than CZ.
Remember that the low refractive index means that light doesn’t travel through the stones as well as in diamonds, so it shines less.
Which grade of cubic zirconia is more sparkle?
The higher grades of the CZ stones boast the best quality cuts, so despite the lower refractive index, they still offer the best possible sparkle you can expect from zirconia stones.
So, if you are looking for the best quality CZ stones or jewelry that will not break the bank while offering the best sparkle, try out the higher grades of CZ – The Diamond 6A CZ or the 5A cubic zirconia. These two grades give the closest feel to real diamonds.
How do you make a cubic zirconia shine like a diamond?
First, it’s important to remember that you cannot replicate the same shine, fire, or brilliance of a high-quality diamond in CZ. The best you could do is to buy CZ jewelry curated out of the top-graded zirconia stones.
But remember that even these zirconia stones will lose their sparkle after some time because they tend to grow cloudy or hazy when exposed to skin and body care products, water, and the environment.
In such cases, cleaning the jewelry in warm soapy water, albeit with a gentle detergent, will help restore the shine and brightness of the stone.
When buying CZ jewelry, it’s important to bear these in mind. A CZ will never be a diamond, but it is close enough.
CZ stones shine brightly, and to the untrained eye, the stones look just like diamonds. And they cost less, so anyone out to save money would jump at the opportunity of owning such jewelry.
However, you should know that CZ jewelry doesn’t sparkle as brightly and isn’t as fiery as diamonds.
To the professional eye, the low refractive index, lower refractive reflectivity, and the rainbow effect mean that the CZ doesn’t shine as diamonds do.
Stephanie is a jewelry lover when she was a teenager. Her major was fashion design when she was in college. She is a jewelry designer at SOQ Jewelry and other design companies. Now she is also a writer for our website. She writes a lot of designs&brands posts with very actionable tips.