People often assume that all cubic zirconia stones are the same.
Contrary to this notion, these stones are grouped into several quality levels, depending on clarity, color, cut, and carat.
The available grades range from 5A, 4A, AAA, AA, and A. There is a difference in appearance between each of these classes.
It is also worth noting that the price differs too! In this article, we explore these grades in detail.
Cubic Zirconia Quality Grades
Like precious stones, cubic zirconia is available in different quality levels. There are two versions of cubic zirconia – hand cut and machine cut.
Before we explore the different grades of machine-cut cubic zirconia, it is important to appreciate the high quality of the hand-cut version.
Top jewelers in the market specialize in superior cutting techniques that leave these pieces with a brilliance that equates to that of pure diamonds.
Hand-cut cubic zirconia stones are considered of the highest quality in the market. However, you need to note that the jeweler’s expertise is also a factor here. If you are looking to purchase hand-cut stones, ensure that you purchase from a reputable jeweler.
The synthetic stone has a grading system different from that of precious stones. Only the machine-cut cubic zirconia stones are graded using this criterion.
The grades range from A to 5A, 5A being considered the best quality. Since the machine cut stones undergo mass production, the quality can never match the hand-cut version.
However, the 5A rated machine cut cubic zirconia stones are made with zero inclusions in the crystals. These stones are colorless, brilliant, and fiery.
Cubic zirconia stones are graded based on these four standards: color, carat, clarity, and the cut.
To create a colored cubic zirconia stone, trace elements are added during the manufacturing process. These colors range from yellow, pink, lavender, violet, and champagne. Since cubic zirconia is created to match the diamond, the colorless gemstones are considered higher quality than the colored ones.
The weight or size is also an important factor in grading cubic zirconia stones. Generally, these synthetic stones are heavier than diamonds. On the Mohs scale, 5A cubic zirconia stones weigh 8.5, while diamond weighs 10. The lower grades of the stone weigh much lesser.
The clearer the stone, the higher the grade. Sometimes, the stones may acquire some element of cloudiness due to different treatments during the manufacturing process.
This cloudiness lowers the quality of the stone, making it less valuable. However, most of the cubic stones in the market today are mostly flawless, almost indistinguishable from the diamonds.
The cut determines the final shape that the stone will take. As discussed earlier, the hand-cut stones take the highest quality price home. However, this does not mean that the machine cut is not equally impressive.
There is a variety of cuts to achieve different shapes of the stone. Some of the popular cuts are heart shape and princess cuts. An excellent cut brings out the best features and brilliance in a stone.
It is worth noting that the higher the quality, the higher the price. The table below shows a detailed summary of how the various grades of cubic zirconia stones differ.
|Life||Lasts a lifetime||2 years||6 months||4 months||1 month|
|Radiance||Brilliant, fiery.||Sparkly, fiery||Poor reflection||Dull||Dull|
What is 5A grade Cubic Zirconia?
5A cubic zirconia stones are the best quality in the market. These stones are made to perfection, so they are given a 4C rating.
They are made using the best rough, perfectly polished, and have the best cuts, best color, and excellent clarity. These are the most brilliant and sparkly of all the cubic zirconia stones.
The best quality materials are used to make the 5A grade stones, guaranteeing zero inclusions. These stones are polished just like the top-rated diamonds!
When used to make jewelry, these stones are set in quality mountings. If you are looking for stunning jewelry at an affordable price, 5A quality is your best shot.
What is 4A Grade Cubic Zirconia?
The 4A quality is not produced independently. 4A stones are sorted out from the 5A stones after manufacturing.
These result from handpicking of the blemished 5A stones and are of a little less quality than 5A. However, these stones make high-quality jewelry, a little shy of the high standard set by the 5A stones.
What is AAA Grade Cubic Zirconia?
Although the AAA grade cubic zirconia stones do not have an excellent finishing like the 5A grade stones, they are usually more polished than the A grade stones.
It is possible to notice a few grains or polish traces across the surface of these stones. Compared to the A and AA stones, they elicit more shine and luster.
Mass-market manufacturers use the AAA stones to produce cheap jewelry mainly set on silver or gold-plated mountings. The AAA grade is the most popular due to its affordability and availability.
What is AA Grade Cubic Zirconia?
These stones are made with better rough. Compared to the A grade, the cutting and faceting are better. Although they are low-quality grades, they still shine better than the A grade.
What is the A grade Cubic Zirconia?
The A grade cubic zirconia is the lowest grade in the market. The stones have minimal shine and sparkle.
Poor quality rough is used, and the thickness of most of the stones does not meet the standard height of the diamond cut. Also, these stones do not have great symmetry and appear cloudy.
These stones are a favorite of artists and craftsmen who want to adorn their creations. An artisan can buy a huge volume of these stones for quite an affordable price to achieve a sparkle effect on products.
The A-grade stones are not favorable for jewelry. Instead, they are very popular and useful in the art industry.
Most of the cubic zirconia stones are white stones, graded 5A. These are colorless and perfectly resemble diamonds.
As discussed in this article, there are different grades of cubic zirconia stones, each with different qualities and purposes.
Although cubic zirconia gemstones are not as durable as diamonds, they still make an excellent alternative to their highly-priced counterparts.
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