Rare and valuable minerals

What is better to buy cubic zirconia or diamond?

On the shelves of jewelry chains, beautiful jewelry shimmers with diamond sparkles on the facets of precious stones. Or are these not diamonds, but cubic zirconias? How to distinguish a natural stone from an artificial one if you are not a professional jeweler or gemologist? A diamond is a desirable acquisition for most women. Received as a gift, it symbolizes the special disposition of the donor towards the recipient. What if the stones were inherited and you need to determine the real value of the property received? During her lifetime, my grandmother claimed that the set was made of diamonds, but what really happened? Are the contents of the box real – a fabulous fortune? Or is it a brilliant fiction, well stylized as a work of art? To answer the main question – “How to distinguish a diamond from cubic zirconia?” you need to understand the nature of both types of stones. There are also proven ways to evaluate the characteristics of stones without resorting to the services of a gemological laboratory.

What is a diamond

This stone is nothing more than a diamond mined from a kimberlite pipe. It was extracted from the rock, washed and cut. Diamonds can be technical and jewelry. When sorting, stones with the best characteristics are selected – according to size, transparency, shade, shape, and the presence of defects due to scratches and inclusions. There are very few perfectly pure diamonds, transparent as if spring water – which is why such stones are very highly valued. More often, inclusions or impurities of other minerals may be found inside the stone, adjacent to the diamonds inside the volcanic rock. Beautifully cut diamonds with fantasy colors are also highly prized. An ordinary diamond is characterized by light shades of blue or green, from light yellow to brown, and there are even black ones. But reddish, bright blue, emerald green or purple are rare. If a stone, in addition to its unique color, has impressive dimensions and is skillfully cut, it is considered a work of art. The diamond often became an adornment of the royal treasury.

What is cubic zirconia

This stone is of synthetic origin, which saw the light of day thanks to scientists from the Lebedev Physical Institute of the Academy of Sciences, or FIAN for short. It is noteworthy that physicists, during experiments, tried to create a substance for use in laser equipment. Certain optical properties of the material were needed. However, cubic zirconia has become a real sensation for the jewelry industry. A synthetic stone allows you to imitate almost any gemstone, while its price in comparison with a diamond is extremely low. Cubic zirconia has made it possible to fill the market with inexpensive jewelry. It is also used in dentistry, the chemical industry, and in the production of optical devices.

Physico-chemical characteristics of diamond, cubic zirconia

  • The hardness of diamond on the Mohs scale is 10, which is the highest level. You can only scratch a diamond with another diamond, and the stone is very fragile and easy to break. Moreover, the splits occur in strictly defined planes – this property is used during the initial processing of stones.
  • Diamond is flammable; it will not withstand even the sun’s rays passing through a magnifying glass. When heated, carbon dioxide is released. In case of fire, high temperature and lack of oxygen will turn diamonds into graphite.
  • Diamonds, a cubic allotrope of carbon, are resistant to alkalis and acids, they are natural dielectrics, that is, they do not transmit electricity.

Cubic zirconia is a chemical composition of cubic zirconium dioxide. Cubic zirconia has a diamond-like luster, which can even exceed the brightness of natural stones. However, in terms of hardness, cubic zirconias are inferior to diamonds – 7,5 – 8,5 on the Mohs scale. In addition, cubic zirconias have more weight compared to natural and synthetic diamonds.

How to distinguish a diamond from cubic zirconia at home

Now let’s move on to the practical part of the question: how to distinguish a precious stone from an artificial cubic zirconia without special equipment? First of all, such knowledge will help you to really evaluate the jewelry that you have got into your hands if you suspect that they are trying to foist a fake on you under the guise of jewelry with a diamond.


One of the most accessible ways to determine what you are holding in your hands. The peculiarity of the diamond cut is that the stone refracts and reflects the light falling on it as much as possible. Thanks to this, the diamond plays beautifully with reflections on its edges, but it is impossible to see anything through it. Also, you will not be able to see other objects through a cut diamond if you look through it into the light.

Cubic zirconia allows you to examine the letters of printed text, as well as objects. It is transparency and the absence of specific refraction of light inside the stone that distinguishes it from a natural cut diamond.

Glitter and Shine

If you bring the stones to a source of bright light and, turning, make the light play on the edges, then a cold silvery sparkle will become a sign of a diamond. But cubic zirconia will play with different colors. However, a lot depends on the quality of the stone and the cut. Professionals do not recommend relying on this method, since the likelihood of error is very high. Even when you compare cubic zirconia to a real diamond, comparing the stones to each other, the brilliance and sparkle of the samples can mislead you.

Test breath

Remember the action typical of treasure hunters – breathing on a stone? So, this is not only to “clean” the find on the sleeve. A diamond, as well as an uncut diamond, will give itself away by not fogging up. It will remain clean and transparent. But on cubic zirconia, warm breath causes condensation to form, which will cause the surface of the stone to become cloudy.

Optics to the rescue

To visually assess the quality of the stone, magnifying glasses with 10x magnification are used. Jewelers also have special microscopes to evaluate the quality of gemstones. Make sure there is bright lighting before examining the sample.

Your task is to evaluate the quality of the glow from one face. For a natural diamond, the glow will be a single line, clear, but for cubic zirconia it will be double – the so-called double refraction means that one ray will go straight, and another will deviate to the side.

Looking for defects

If you do not have access to closed diamond auctions, where stones with impeccable clarity are offered for millions of dollars, then it will become a rule for you that “a defect is a sign of authenticity.” For assessment, it is recommended to take an X20 magnifying glass. Natural diamonds and diamonds sold in jewelry chains will have inclusions and cracks. This will be an indication that the stone was adjacent to other minerals within the rock. Yes, during cutting they try to eliminate flaws or make them invisible, but in most cases they are present in samples with a “decent price”. On the contrary, impeccable quality, transparency and absence of flaws at a reasonable price for jewelry are a sure sign of the use of artificial stone.

Sharpness of edges

This method can be practiced by people who have experience with real diamonds – they not only saw them, but had the opportunity to comprehensively study, remember the characteristic features and sensations of the stone.

  • The diamond has characteristic sharp edges that cannot be obtained with artificial cubic zirconia. In the second case, the edges of the faces are always slightly more rounded.
  • Another sign of a diamond’s authenticity is the presence of smoothness flaws. Cubic zirconia will be flawless on planes.

A person who does not have experience interacting with real diamonds will not be able to discern this difference. This skill is possible for practicing jewelers and professional appraisers.


Knowledge about the thermal conductivity of diamond and cubic zirconia will also help identify a natural stone. To experiment, just warm your hands and take the jewelry with the stone in your fist. If it took 3-4 seconds to heat the stone, you have cubic zirconia. A diamond will remain cold comparatively longer due to its thermal conductivity properties – it quickly removes heat.


A diamond has a unique hardness – it can only be scratched by another diamond. The stone can withstand pressure of several tons, but it does not have impact resistance – a fragile diamond will crack if dropped or hit by a heavy object. It is believed that sellers will not allow the stone to be scratched if the product has a cubic zirconia insert. However, there is more effective evidence – expert opinion.

Availability of a certificate of authenticity

Retail jewelry chains can sell unmounted stones only if they have a certificate for each sample. The research is carried out in specialized gemological laboratories, where experts evaluate each sample, comparing it with the standard. The GIA, or Gemological Institute of America, certification is trusted throughout the world. Certification of one carat stone will cost $105. In Russia, the leading expert in the evaluation of precious stones is the Gemological Center of Moscow State University.

How to distinguish using fat

There is another way to check the authenticity of a stone, which is used even at the stage of sorting raw materials after washing the diamond rock. Vegetable fat. A drop is enough for the diamond to effortlessly stick to the glass surface. Cubic zirconia will not hold up during such manipulations – it will fall off. Also, on the surface of the diamond, the oil drop will remain intact, but on the surface of the cubic zirconia it will disintegrate.

As can be seen from our list, the most effective ways to distinguish a diamond from cubic zirconia are based on knowledge of the physical properties of the stones. Aesthetic evaluation requires extensive practical experience.

If a ring-path with diamonds is a girl’s best friend, then what place does jewelry with cubic zirconia occupy in a woman’s heart? Gemstones are very similar in appearance, but each has unique properties. Before you make a choice, find out what the difference is between diamonds and cubic zirconia, and which stone is right for you.

What is a diamond – properties and advantages

Diamond is a rare carbon crystal and the hardest material in the world. The King of Gemstones has a 10 on the Mohs scale of mineral hardness and if it can be scratched, it can only be scratched by another diamond. This stone can cut glass and has the unique ability to maintain incredible shine for decades. Due to its unique strength and durability, diamonds have become synonymous with eternity.

Why diamonds?

Color spectrum. The most valuable are colorless crystal clear stones. However, due to exposure to other substances in nature, such as nitrogen or boron, a diamond may change color to blue, yellow, brown or pink. This way you are not limited in your choice.

The longest lasting and hardest crystals in the world. A diamond cannot be broken, scratched or damaged. It is so hard that it is used for cutting and grinding industrial materials. Carbon crystal has an incredibly high melting point, so it survives even fire. Diamonds retain their brilliance and beauty with minimal care.

Unique beauty. All gemstones are beautiful, but a diamond bracelet has a special sparkle that outshines other jewelry. They have the greatest purity, and therefore can shine stunningly. The crystal also has a special cut, which is designed to increase the reflection and refraction of light. This is why diamond jewelry has stunning sparkle and attracts attention.

Versatility. The colorless crystal is a versatile gemstone that can be paired with any metal. This is a timeless classic that every woman dreams of. However, diamonds come in different colors: blue, pink, black and green.

What is cubic zirconia?

Cubic zirconia or cubic zirconia is produced in the laboratory from zirconium oxide. The white crystalline powder melts at a temperature of 2750° with stabilizers such as calcium and magnesium. The resulting crystals are cut, polished and used to decorate jewelry. The word “cubic” in the name of the gemstone refers to the shape of the crystals, similar to diamonds. Adding various components to the formula for growing cubic zirconia produces 7 primary colors: yellow, red, orange, green, pink, purple and brown with a golden sheen, as well as forty additional shades. The palette of these precious stones contains a rare tone – light lavender, which is not found in any color range of natural minerals. The price of cubic zirconia is determined by the “4C” formula: carat, clarity, color and cut quality.

Properties of cubic zirconia:

Hardness. On the Mohs scale, zirconium oxide has 8-8,5 points. In terms of hardness, the properties of this gemstone are quite strong.

Durability. A gold ring with cubic zirconia will last for decades with regular care. The main thing is to wear jewelry with caution and remove it while swimming or doing housework. Cubic zirconium does not like salt water, chlorine and chemicals, and may tarnish upon contact with them. Clean your gemstone with soapy water, a soft-bristled brush, and a microfiber glass cloth. The main thing is not to use abrasives or hard tools that will leave scratches on the crystals.

Color spectrum. Cubic zirconia is created transparent, but with the help of other components you can get yellow, blue, green and even lilac crystals. Thanks to this property, the gemstone is ideal for creating complex and original designs. Also, colored cubic zirconia is often used to imitate various precious stones. Purple copies amethyst, blue – sapphires, red – garnets and rubies, yellow – citrine.

Density. It is a dense crystal with a specific gravity of 5,6 to 6,0 g/cm³, which is 1,6 times denser than a diamond. Cubic zirconia will always be heavier than diamond.

Benefits of jewelry with cubic zirconia

Colors for every taste. Choose jewelry featuring colorless cubic zirconia or explore an incredible variety of colored gemstones. For example, in the online store of the Capital Jewelry Factory ™ you can buy jewelry with blue, pink, purple, green and red cubic zirconia. This is the easiest way to diversify your jewelry collection.

Royal appearance. Jewelry with cubic zirconia is as flawless as F-grade diamonds, which can be determined by the gemstone purity chart. Cubic zirconia is always flawless because it is created in a laboratory, unlike natural crystals.

Exquisite radiance. Cubic zirconia shines with all the colors of the rainbow and has a much more colorful shine than a real diamond.

How to distinguish a diamond from cubic zirconia: 6 secrets from jewelers

Breathe on the stone

The easiest way to distinguish a diamond from cubic zirconia is to breathe on the stone. Diamond never sweats because it is a good conductor of heat and dissipates it quickly. Breathe several times on two stones at the same time. You will see how quickly condensation accumulates on the cubic zirconia.

Check the stone in the light

The best way to differentiate diamond brooches or earrings from cubic zirconia jewelry is to look at the stone in natural light. Diamond emits more of a white glow, while cubic zirconia shines with all the colors of the rainbow due to excessive light scattering.

Warm the stone in your hands

Everything is simple here – diamonds do not heat up in your hands, but always remain cool.

Newspaper test

Try to read the newspaper through the gem. Through cubic zirconia you will be able to see letters and even read words. The diamond is not translucent, so you will not see the text.

White paper test

Draw two black dots on a white piece of paper. Now look at them through the stones. If you can distinguish a black dot, you have cubic zirconia in front of you. It is impossible to see the round black display through a real diamond.

Observe the reflection of light from the stone. The diamond’s highlights have shades of gray. If you see colored highlights, it’s cubic zirconia.

Difference between diamonds and cubic zirconia

Carbon crystal is incredibly durable. Its hardness on the Mohs scale is 10 points, while cubic zirconia has only 8,5 points. A diamond can scratch cubic zirconia, but not vice versa, because it is the hardest mineral in existence. However, earrings with black diamonds should not be stored in the same box as diamond rings or bracelets, as they may get scratched against each other. Each decoration should be stored separately in a bag or box.

Another difference between diamonds and cubic zirconia is the surface of the stones. Scratches and abrasions may appear on cubic zirconia, but never on a diamond.

Cubic zirconia is always heavier than diamond. For the same stone size, cubic zirconia weighs 1,7 times more. But, of course, this is not enough for you to feel this weight on your hand.

Dispersion and refractive index

Dispersion is the passage of light through a stone and its dispersion over the entire area. Refraction shows how brightly gemstones shine. Cubic zirconia has greater dispersion, and therefore emits much more radiance. However, it has low refraction, so it is not as bright as a diamond. This difference is especially noticeable with larger stones. This is why small-sized cubic zirconias are more diamond-like than large-diameter stones.

Appearance and color

You can buy studs with 1-carat diamonds, bracelets and pendants in different colors: from black to blue and green. But the main feature of a diamond is its ability to shine brightly in the light. Gray and white colors sparkle inside the stone. In the jewelry world, this property of a diamond is called “brilliance.” Jewelry with cubic zirconia sparkles in different colors. Cubic zirconia comes in 40 shades, so you can buy jewelry in any design and color.

What is better to buy: jewelry with diamonds or cubic zirconia

These are two different stones, although from afar they seem very similar. A diamond is naturally occurring or can be made in a laboratory, while cubic zirconia is created entirely by human hands. The King of Gemstones displays stunning brilliance and fire. Therefore, if you are planning to buy a special piece of jewelry that will last a lifetime, choose rings, bracelets, necklaces and earrings with diamonds in the online store of Capital Jewelry Factory™. If you are interested in jewelry for every day at reasonable prices, pay attention to exquisite jewelry with cubic zirconia. We have made sure that in our showrooms and online catalog you will find the perfect jewelry: be it a diamond ring for your beloved woman or a noble bracelet for a respectable man.

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