There are a lot of different stones on the scene today. While you are probably familiar with the basic names of many of them, the actual differences between them can a bit more confusing.
Commonly known as CZ, Cubic Zirconia is the most popular man-made diamond substitute. It’s a nice substitute because like diamonds, it is cubic in its crystal formation and omits a fairly similar fire and sparkle when held up to the light. On the Mohs scale of hardness, a genuine diamond is a 10 while cubic zirconia is a 8 to 9. The product on top is made with cubic zirconia.
Crystal isn’t a gemstone or even a crystal it’s a form of glass that’s made at high temperatures by melting silicon oxide powders with lead to form what is known as lead crystal. The crystals are often further enhanced by coating the glass with an Aurora Borealis or AB coating that gives the surface a rainbow like appearance to simulate dispersion from a diamond. The product on top is made with crystal.
When it comes to the difference between crystal and cubic zirconia, it is especially confusing since both stones are rather similar in their appearance. Let’s take a closer look at the difference between crystal and cubic zirconia.
The first difference between the two stones is the materials they consist of, as well as their source of origins. A crystal can be either a natural stone made of quartz or stone made of plastic, glass, or acrylic. High-grade crystal, such as Swarovski, Preciosa, are usually made of silicon dioxide combined with trace amounts of lead. A cubic zirconia is always a man-made stone made mostly of zirconium dioxide with yttrium, magnesium, and calcium.
Aside from the differences in the composition matters, these two stones are different based on their hardness rating. All stones from diamonds to rhinestones are measured on the Mohs Hardness scale with a rating of 1 through 10 with 10 being the hardest. A diamond is rated a 10 making it the hardest stone. A crystal is typically a hardness scale of 6 whereas a cubic zirconia ranges from an 8 to 9.
What about appearances? Many people struggle to tell the difference between crystal and cubic zirconia and for good reason. They are both clear and shiny, so it is easy to get confused. It is so hard to tell them apart because the appearances are pretty much the same. Both stones offer a bright shine, pick up and reflect light well, and feature a transparent colorless hue. So how do you tell the difference? The untrained eye may not be able to in most instances because the only giveaway is a slight coating found on crystals which isn’t present on cubic zirconia. The coating is because of the softer nature of the stone to help protect it. Aside from that, it is nearly impossible for the naked eye to tell the difference.
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