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Cubic Zirconia Vs Diamond - What Should You Choose?

Whether you're an avid jewellery collector or simply someone who enjoys the finer things in life, you’re probably no stranger to the beauty and brilliance of a diamond. The sparkly stones are some of the most sought after in fine jewellery, but are not always to everyone’s taste, preference or budget.
Cubic Zirconia Vs Diamond - What Should You Choose?

Luckily, there are some alternatives to choose from. Cubic zirconia (CZ) is one of the most widely used stones in jewellery, and one which best resembles a diamond. In fact, some of the biggest designer jewellery brands, including Nomination, TI SENTO - Milano, Vivienne Westwood and Thomas Sabo, among others, all showcase the beautiful crystal in some of their finest pieces. So, although an item containing a cubic zirconia stone might not meet the elite standards of a diamond, it is often the perfect choice for dress pieces and trend-driven designs.

But if you’re wondering what the differences are between the two types of stones, or whether to splurge on that luxurious diamond piece or settle for a budget friendly alternative, this guide will help answer your queries, so you can make the right choice.


What is Cubic Zirconia and how is it made?

Cubic zirconia is one of the most affordable alternatives to diamonds, but with similar qualities. Unlike a diamond, Cubic zirconia is manufactured in a laboratory and is produced by combining zirconium oxide powder with magnesium and calcium.


The natural form of zirconium oxide was first found in 1892, although its value was relatively unknown. . As scientists began experimenting in the 1930s, they discovered that zirconium oxide can withstand high temperatures. It wasn’t until 1937 that scientists were able to melt the mineral, and they found that it produced small, beautiful crystals.

Around 1977, Russian scientists discovered a synthetic process to produce these crystals, which soon became the cubic zirconia stones that are so widely used in jewellery today. 90 years after the discovery, cubic zirconia is one of the most popular stones and the closest to being a girl’s best friend.

What is a diamond and where was it first found?

The world’s favourite stone has a long history and goes through a lot before reaching your jewellery box. A diamond is formed under the earth as a result of an extremely high temperature and pressure environment, which eventually forces it to the earth’s surface.

Diamonds were first discovered in India in the 4th century but were quickly distributed around the world because of their value, hardness and reflectivity to light. Since then, diamond discoveries have been made all over the world in places such as Brazil, Russia and Australia. The diamond market really peaked in 1866 when discoveries were made in South Africa. The peak was so high that it caused a slight decrease in value because the now-wide availability of the stone. However, a mining company in South Africa implemented a successful marketing strategy in the 1900s, resulting in a change in perceptions which restored the elite status of nature's greatest treasure.


The difference between Cubic zirconia CZ and diamonds

Both diamonds and CZ stones are similar in beauty, ensuring you always feel like you look your best. However, they do have differences in quality and durability. 



Cubic Zirconia



Laboratory grown 

Earth mined or laboratory grown


8.5 on Mohs hardness scale

10 on Mohs hardness scale


Colourless, or synthetically coloured to any shade

Rarely colourless, fancy diamond colours available but are rare


Flawless in clarity 

Flawless diamonds are rare, so often have inclusions 


Value is based on type of jewellery, CZ is affordable

Diamonds carry value, often considered investments that increase in/hold their value, most expensive gemstone 


Sustainably produced with little environmental or ethical impact, but do not have a quality that will last years 

Earth mined stones can cause environmental or ethical harm but can last a lifetime (or longer), lab grown diamonds are a sustainable alternative 


Jewellery available in a wide variety of colours, styles and brands 

Jewellery is often more timeless and chic due to it being an investment, a variety of colours and qualities are available for different styles



According to the Mohs scales of hardness, diamonds score a staggering 10 and Cubic Zirconia stones follow closely with an 8.5. Although they’re both on the higher end of the spectrum, diamonds take the lead in durability and resilience - this makes them better suited for often worn jewellery pieces such as engagement rings.



When it comes to appearance, diamonds are available in a range of colour grades which run from D (colourless) to Z (yellow-ish colour). Colourless diamonds are considered the best of the best, although fancy coloured diamonds are also desirable. These can be in all shades of yellow, pink, green, black and more.

With CZ, stones are often colourless and mimic the appearance of the best graded diamonds (D). The synthetic stones can also be produced in a variety of colours, including pink, yellow, green, black, blue and more, offering more diverse jewellery options. 



As cubic zirconia is lab-produced, it lacks the natural flaws that diamonds have. In other words, Cubic zirconia is flawless in clarity. 

Just like the colour, diamonds are also graded on clarity, on a scale ranging from flawless to included. The natural formation process of the precious stone means it often features inclusions which can impact its quality. As you can imagine, everyone wants a flawless diamond with no or very few inclusions although, these are the most rare and therefore, most valuable, too. 



The most obvious difference between CZ and diamonds is the price. With cubic zirconia jewellery you can spend anywhere from £7 to £700 depending on the style, designer and metal type. This makes CZ jewellery great for occasional wear or trend-driven pieces.

With diamond jewellery, we all know they are one of the most expensive stones on the market and are often viewed as a huge investment that will remain in your collection for years.



In terms of sustainability, diamonds involve mining so there can be a lot of ethical issues and conflicts involved.ut as Cubic Zirconia is lab-manufactured, those problems are minimal and considered more sustainable. 

However, laboratory grown diamonds have also risen in popularity in recent years, offering jewellery lovers a way to enjoy the brilliance and beauty of a diamond in a way that is more sustainable and budget-friendly.


Which stone is perfect for you?

If you have had your eye on a piece of diamond jewellery but have always been hesitant to spend a huge amount of money, then you should definitely consider cubic zirconia as an alternative. For example, you can get the look without breaking the bank with this Thomas Sabo ring that will light up every room you step into.

diamond ring with a blue stone

A pitfall of CZ jewellery is that it tends to wear out over time, particularly when worn frequently. However, if you are just on the hunt for a stylish piece to give your outfits a modern flare, then a trending style with CZ stones is the perfect choice. You can enjoy a short term style, without splurging on an expensive piece. If your jewellery is carefully stored, cleaned and maintained, it will also keep its quality for longer, no matter the type of stone.

A diamond's long-lasting properties make it the perfect stone for engagement rings or items that are worn frequently. Diamonds are also an ideal choice for someone looking for an investment piece or an heirloom item that can be passed on from generation to generation. Its high recognition and prestigious nature are factors that alternative stones cannot beat. Buying a diamond piece comes with great satisfaction and pride. Spoil yourself with these timeless trendy hoop earrings by Shaun Leanne that exude elegance and luxury.

Cubic Zirconia Earrings

If you’ve made up your mind, explore our special collection of Cubic Zirconia and diamond jewellery to find your new, favourite piece of jewellery. Alternatively, call us or visit our stores to find out more information on the stones.