Simulated Diamond is such an confusing term. A simulated diamond is also called Cubic Zirconia (CZ). Many who have not heard of this term Simulated Diamond may take it for a natural diamond.
Cubic Zirconia is not a natural diamond. Just by looking, Cubic Zirconia looks similar to a high grade flawless diamond with its brilliance and crystal clarity. With a naked eye it is hard to tell a difference but cubic zirconia is a synthesized crystalline material that is colourless, hard, and flawless.
The Origin of Cubic Zirconia
Cubic zirconia was first discovered in 1892 but at that time it does not attracts much attention as it is now as the natural form of cubic zirconia is zirconium oxide, which is yellow in appearance.
A few decades later, sometime in the early 1930s some scientist grew interest in the minerals which includes melting the ore.
It was discovered that the mineral didn't lose its strength when subjected to extremely high heat, but in contrast it can be made into a high quality "refractory material."
Later in 1937, two German mineralogists made an important discover that brings Cubic zirconia's its name. The two scientists found that melted zirconium oxide contained cube-shaped crystals. And thus Cubic Zirconia have a cubic in front of the name, it is to indicate the structure of the minerals.
But it is not until 1960s, scientists wanted to search for a less expensive material compared to diamonds to be used with lasers and other industrial applications, researchers began to pursue the creation of simulated diamonds. It was during this time that the single crystal cubic zirconia was rediscovered.
How is cubic zirconia made?
Cubic zirconia crystals are made by melting powdered zirconium and zirconium dioxide together and heating them up to 4,976ºF or 2750ºC. under extreme heat Cubic zirconia crystals are made.
Cubic Zirconia Storms the Jewelry industry
In 1977, Russian scientists discovered how to actually grow these crystals using a synthetic process. As the technique become more refined, the creation of simulated diamond attracts interest by many Jewelry Giants which includes popular names such as Swarovski or Pandora.
Because of its diamond-like qualities, low cost, and overall durability. Cubic zirconia is a mineral that is used as a diamond simulant and is the go-to alternative for natural diamonds which are priced 50 times or more than a simulated diamond.
The appearance of Cubic Zirconia (CZ) resemblance to diamonds is so high, that even professionals will have hard time identifying one from the other.
Advancement of technology allows coating of amorphous diamond on CZ which reinforce the hardness of the CZ and also enhance its luster. These coatings close the gaps between simulated diamonds (Cubic Zirconia) and natural diamonds.
It dulls the fire and improving the refractive index, and will many occasions give a false positive diamond reading when placed under a Raman spectroscope that's used to authenticate diamonds.
Cubic Zirconia has a rich and fascinating history, which leaves a footprint in both industrial use and modern Jewelry industry.
It is the go-to precious stone of choice if you are looking for an affordable diamond alternative.
Check out our next article in the Jewelry 101 series to find out more about the difference between a simulated diamond (Cubic Zirconia) and a natural diamond.
Wondering if you're ready to make the switch from diamonds to this miracle stone yet?
You can read more about difference between Cubic Zirconia vs Diamonds in our Jewelry 101 articles here.