Cubic Zirconia Vs Lab Grown Diamonds

Cubic Zirconia vs Lab Diamonds

Cubic Zirconias and Lab Diamonds are a very popular alternative to natural earth mined diamonds for jewellers and customers around the world.

But there are distinct differences between the two types of man made stones.

In this article we will look at the differences between Cubic Zirconias (CZ) and Lab Diamonds across six (6) categories:

1. What are Cubic Zirconias v's Lab Diamonds made of?

The ingredients that go into making CZ or Lab Diamonds is very different.

Cubic Zirconia (CZ): is a synthetic crystalline substance made from zirconium dioxide. It is optically flawless but lacks the chemical and physical properties of real diamonds.

Lab Diamonds: have the same chemical composition and crystal structure as natural diamonds (pure carbon), making them optically, chemically, and physically identical to mined diamonds.

Twisted Gum Nut Rings with Cubic Zirconias by Rahaima

2. How are they made in a laboratory?

Cubic Zirconia (CZ): is produced through a process called the Verneuil method or flame fusion, where powdered zirconium dioxide is melted and crystallised to form the CZ stones.

Lab Diamonds: are produced using one of two main methods: High Pressure High Temperature (HPHT) or Chemical Vapor Deposition (CVD). HPHT mimics the conditions under which natural diamonds form in the earth's mantle, while CVD involves the deposition of carbon atoms onto a substrate to grow diamond crystals layer by layer.

3. How soft or breakable are Cubic Zirconia v's Lab Diamonds?

Cubic Zirconia (CZ): are softer than diamonds. It has a hardness of about 8.5 on the Mohs scale. Although this is very high on the Mohs scale, it does mean that CZ can scratch and wear over time. 

Lab Diamonds: have a hardness of around 9 to 10 on the Mohs scale, the same durability as natural diamonds. However it is possible to break and scratch a diamond, like you can a CZ.

Note: The Mohs scales is a gem stones hardness scale. On a scale of 1 to 10. Soft stones are close to 1. Harder stones are closer to 10. 


4. Value and Cost: How expensive are they? 

Cubic Zirconia (CZ): are significantly less expensive than both natural and lab-created diamonds. It is often used as a low-cost alternative for jewellery and is popular for its affordability.

Lab Diamonds: are more expensive than CZ but generally more affordable than natural diamonds. They offer a cost-effective option for consumers seeking the beauty and brilliance of diamonds without the high price tag associated with mined stones.

5. Brilliance, Sparkle and Colours - Can you tell it’s fake? 

Cubic Zirconia (CZ): tend to have more colourful sparkle (fire) compared to diamonds.  CZ can be manufactured in various colours, although colourless or clear CZ is the most popular and widely available. Manufacturers can introduce different metal oxides during the production process to achieve a range of colour stones such as yellow, pink, blue, purple, red, orange and black. 

Lab Diamonds: exhibit the same brilliance, sparkle, and fire as natural diamonds due to their identical chemical and physical properties. Lab Diamonds also come in a variety of colours starting with: 

Colourless: Similar to natural diamonds, lab-grown diamonds can be produced in a colourless or near-colourless state. These diamonds are highly valued for their clarity and brilliance.

Yellow and Brown: lab-grown diamonds have the presence of nitrogen impurities in the diamond crystal lattice causing these colours.

Pink: lab-grown diamonds are highly sought after for their rarity and beauty. The pink colour can result from structural anomalies during the crystal growth process.

Blue: lab-grown diamonds are created when boron is introduced during the growth process. These diamonds can range from light to intense blue hues.

Green: lab-grown diamonds can be produced by exposing the diamond to radiation during the growth process. The green coloration is caused by exposure to natural radiation or by the introduction of specific impurities.

Red: lab-grown diamonds are extremely rare and highly valuable. The exact cause of red coloration in diamonds is still debated among scientists, but it is believed to result from lattice defects or structural anomalies.

Purple: lab-grown diamonds can result from a combination of nitrogen and hydrogen impurities in the diamond crystal lattice.

Orange: lab-grown diamonds are also rare and can result from nitrogen impurities combined with lattice defects.

Gray and Black: lab-grown diamonds can occur due to structural defects or impurities within the crystal lattice.

It's important to note that the colour intensity and distribution within lab-grown diamonds can vary, and not all colours are as readily available or common as others. Additionally, some lab-grown diamonds may undergo treatments to enhance or alter their colour.

Check out the CZ's I use in my crescent stone ring video


6. Environmental considerations - what’s the impact on our planet?

Cubic Zirconia (CZ) and Lab Diamonds: 

Both CZ and Lab Diamonds are marketed as a more environmentally friendly alternative to mined diamonds, but they both have some environmental impacts associated with their production. Some Key points regarding the environmental impact are: 

Energy Consumption: The production of CZ and Lab diamonds requires significant energy inputs, particularly in the form of electricity. The high temperatures and pressures required for diamond growth in both HPHT and CVD processes demand substantial energy resources. 

Carbon Emissions: While CZ and Lab Diamonds do not have the same carbon footprint as mined diamonds in terms of extraction and transportation, they still generate carbon emissions through the energy-intensive processes involved in their production. However, these emissions are generally lower than those associated with mining and processing natural diamonds.

Water Usage: The production of Lab Diamonds typically requires water for cooling and other purposes. While the water usage per carat of Diamonds is generally lower than that of mined diamonds, it still contributes to overall water consumption. Efforts to minimise water usage and recycle water are underway in some manufacturing facilities.

Chemical Usage: Some processes used in the production of Lab Diamonds involve the use of chemicals, such as methane in the CVD process. While the amounts of chemicals used are relatively small compared to other industries, proper handling and disposal of these chemicals are necessary to minimise environmental impacts.

Land Use: Unlike mined diamonds, CZ and Lab Diamonds do not require the destruction of ecosystems or habitat displacement associated with mining activities. However, the facilities where lab-grown diamonds are produced still require land for construction and operation.

Based on all of the above information, I would choice a CZ or Lab Diamond any day! 

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