A synthetic crystalline substance that is a popular alternative to diamonds, CZ or cubic zirconia is a brilliant and crystal-clear gemstone that is in the spotlight for a variety of reasons.
Since we’ve used the word “alternative” to describe the stone, it is important that we have an honest discussion around what cubic zirconia is and why jewelry that features this beautiful stone is often perceived in contrasting ways.
Shine Bright Like a… CZ?
Perhaps the biggest debate around CZ jewelry is – is it “just an alternative to diamond jewelry” or can it stand its own ground?
To find the right answer to this question, it is important that we first try and understand what cubic zirconia is and what makes it such a hotly discussed topic.
Cubic zirconia, unlike a diamond, is manmade. The production of CZ stones began in the 1970s. The typical manufacturing process involves heating powdered zirconium and zirconium dioxide to 4,982 degrees (F) to create the crystals. While CZ has been around for over five decades, it has been in the news of late because jewelry featuring these stones has become a raging hit among people.
Why is Cubic Zirconia in Demand?
These lab-manufactured gemstones have gained massive popularity in the recent past thanks to a variety of reasons:
- CZ costs much lesser than a diamond (which it resembles)
- It is colorless and flawless, devoid of any blemishes
- CZ stones are available in a range of colors
- They can be used in different types of jewelry pieces
- CZ scores a neat 8.0 to 8.5 on the Mohs hardness scale
While diamonds score a straight 10 in terms of hardness, CZ isn’t too far behind. This makes the gemstone extremely durable and excellent in terms of long-term usage.
All these advantages of CZ also make the stone a boon for jewelry makers, since they can experiment with versatile jewelry designs and makes. From rings and earrings to bracelets and necklaces, there is no jewelry type that has been left untouched by this alluring stone. The sheer beauty and durability of CZ stones make them a fabulous choice for jewelry items.
How to Understand the Quality of CZ?
While there is no standard grading system for cubic zirconia, you can gauge the stone’s quality by looking at the 4 Cs:
If you are on the lookout for high-quality CZ jewelry, make sure you look at these factors and go for stones that are rated 5A (AAAAA) for clarity. That is the closest a CZ stone can get to a real diamond.
You could also look at dispersion – or the fire that a gemstone exhibits – as a quality. Dispersion basically refers to the stone’s sparkle and brilliance, which is derived from how it uses natural light to disperse into the rainbow spectrum. Of course, diamonds have always been valued for their outstanding dispersion quality (with a dispersion rate if 0.044). But hey, guess what? Cubic zirconia features a much higher dispersion level, with a rate of 0.066. And this is what causes the exotic “rainbow effect” when direct light passes through CZ.
What Are the Shortcomings of Cubic Zirconia?
So, if cubic zirconia has ALL the aforesaid benefits and characteristics, why is it sometimes referred to as “fake,” “faux,” or “imitation?”
Well, that is because people always tend to compare CZ with diamonds (due to the fact that the former “looks like” or imitates the latter). And to be honest, that is very unfair to cubic zirconia. After all, it is a completely unique thing – so it is bound to be different from a diamond in some way or the other!
Bear in mind that over a period of time, cubic zirconia can become cloudy unless you duly maintain it. It is also prone to scratches and damages if you use the jewelry on a day-to-day basis, so it is essential that you take care of the stone.
However, the pros of CZ jewelry absolutely outweigh the cons, thus making it a phenomenal and stunning choice for jewelry pieces – especially engagement rings, cocktail rings, tennis bracelets, drop earrings, and necklace pendants.
How to Store, Clean, Maintain, and Restore the Dazzle of Your CZ Jewelry
As is the case with any precious item you own, it is essential that you ensure the proper storage and upkeep of your cubic zirconia jewelry. To start with, make sure you remove your CZ jewelry before you take a shower, swim in a pool, or take a dip in the ocean.
It is also wise to remove such jewelry while doing manual tasks like exercise, gardening, plumbing, or doing household chores that might potentially damage it.
If your CZ jewelry isn’t sold to you in a fabric-lined airtight box, consider buying one. It is always better to store your cubic zirconia jewelry in a jewelry box or airtight container (rather than a plastic or fabric pouch) since it keeps the item safe from natural elements.
To clean your CZ jewelry, just use warm, soapy water and soft brush. Once you gently scrape all the dirt or gunk out, remove it from the water and allow it to dry naturally. You can also use a soft microfiber cloth to wipe your jewelry dry. Repeat this cleaning process every three months. Alternatively, you can take the jewelry to a local jeweler to get it cleaned and polished professionally.
Following these tips will help your CZ stones to retain their shine and luster.
Shop Our Exceptional Selection of Wholesale Cubic Zirconia Jewelry Online
At P&K Jewelry, we offer a wide range of cubic zirconia jewelry (available for wholesale buying). No matter what the occasion, we have an array of chic, bedazzling, and trendy cubic zirconia jewelry sets for every occasion.