Why is Cubic Zirconia Popular

The history of Cubic Zirconia actually starts in 1892 when the yellowish monoclinic mineral baddaleyite – a natural form of zirconium oxide – was discovered. It has a high melting point of 4976 °F (2750 °C) and it was quickly synthesized into “stabilized zirconia” in 1929. This material was widely used as a refractory material in several industries.

It was in 1937, however, when two German mineralogists - M. V. Stackelberg and K. Chudoba – discovered naturally-occurring Cubic Zirconia in the form of microscopic grains in metamict zircon. At the time, the two Germans viewed it as just a simple byproduct and didn’t even bother to name it.

However, in 1970 Russian scientists at the Lebedev Physical Insstitute in Moscow under V. V. Osiko perfected a technique of control growth of single-crystal Cubic Zirconia. They named the gemstone Fianit after the name of the institute (in Russian – FIAN, i.e. Physical Institute of the Academy of Science or ФИАН “Физический Институт Академии Наук”). To this day Cubic Zirconia is called Fianit in Russia and most of Eastern Europe and that’s arguably its correct name since they were the ones to create it.

The breakthrough was published 3 years later, in 1973, commercial production began in 1976, and by 1977 Cubic Zirconia was already mass-produced in the jewelry world by the USA company Ceres Corporation, the Taiwan Crystal Company, ICT, Swarovski, and others.

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What made Cubic Zirconia so popular was the fact that it was so similar to diamonds. Most people can’t tell the difference between a well-cut piece of Cubic Zirconia and a diamond. One of the ways to distinguish the two is with 10x magnification – if you look at the edges of Cubic Zirconia’s facets they won’t be as straight as those of a diamond.

Weighing Cubic Zirconia is another way to distinguish it from diamonds because it’s ~60% heavier than the precious stones. A third option is to measure its heat conductivity – Cubic Zirconia will register as red on the indicators while diamonds are green.

Aside from these minor differences, Cubic Zirconia is stunningly similar to diamonds in its appearance – it’s also a very hard gemstone (8 - 8.5 out of 10) even if it’s not as hard as diamonds, it’s very durable, and most importantly – it has amazing brilliance, sparkle, and fire, nearly matching those of diamonds. All that, together with its much lower price, has made Cubic Zirconia the go-to alternative of diamonds for decades.

One great difference between cubic zirconia and diamond is weight; CZ is about 60% heavier than diamond. A piece of CZ the same size as a one carat diamond weighs about 1.6 carats.CZ is also more brittle than diamond and softer. A cubic zirconia can be scratched by diamond , topaz, ruby or sapphire whereas a diamond can only be scratched by another diamond.

Cubic Zirconia (CZ) continuously populates the jewellery market as one of the most prominent diamond alternatives, due to its high hardness and great fire. CZ is a beautiful synthetic gemstone that is durable and inexpensive and now even comes in any colour of the rainbow, making it even more desirable. Cubic Zirconia is undoubtedly the best diamond substitute in today’s fashionable jewellery.

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