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Diamond Simulants

Cubic Zirconia is called a “Simulant.” It is a man made “stand-in” for a natural diamond.  Cubic Zirconia, when compared to a natural diamond, has different chemical and physical properties but its similarities in appearance are unmistakable.

Cubic Zirconia is a crystal form of "zirconium oxide."  It is hard, usually colorless and visually unblemished, and may be synthesized in a variety of different hues.

The characteristics that distinguish Cubic Zirconia from a diamond are:

  • Specific gravity: the density of cubic zirconia is about 1.7 times greater than that of diamond,
  • Hardness: a diamond is 10 on the Mohs Hardness Scale whereas cubic zirconia has a Mohs hardness rating of approximately 8,
  • Cut:cubic zirconia gems can be cut differently from diamonds.  Specifically, the facet edges can be rounded or "smooth".
  • Color: truly colorless diamonds are rare as most have a hint of yellow or brown. By comparison, a cubic zirconia gemstone is often entirely colorless. Cubic Zirconia gemstones can also be synthesized to near colorless, yellow, pink, purple, green, and even polychromatic colors.
  • Refractive index: cubic zirconia has a refractive index of approximately 2.17, compared to a diamond's refractive index of 2.42. This means that the diamond will show a lively appearance over a wider range of viewing angles than will the cubic zirconia gemstone.

Commercial production of Cubic Zirconia (CZ) began in 1976 and due to its low cost, durability, and close visual resemblance to natural diamonds, it is to this day its chief contender.

Moissanite (first discovered by Henri Moissan), is a synthetic gemstone and serves as an alternative to cubic zirconia.  It is a durable and low cost simulant that is composed of the crystal "carbide."  In comparison to cubic zirconia, Moissanite displays, to some, more sparkle.

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