Those of you searching for a diamond ring have no doubt wondered if what you've seen has been real. Diamonds are popular but hard to get (no pun intended); natural diamonds require intense mining efforts, and lab-created diamonds still require time. Because these stones are still highly prized, unscrupulous sellers have repeatedly tried to pass off cheaper materials at diamond prices.
However, some of those diamond-like materials, like cubic zirconia, are pretty in their own right and have their place at the jewelry table. If you're about to go looking for some diamond jewelry, here's what you need to know about diamonds, CZ, and which one to look at.
What Are These Two?
Diamonds are just that -- they are extremely hard gems that are either mined (natural) or created during a special lab process (lab-created) that mimics the underground pressure that transforms materials into diamonds. Diamonds, even very good ones, tend to have small flaws and inclusions; truly flawless diamonds are rare and prohibitively expensive for most people.
Cubic zirconia is a lab-created stone derived from zirconium dioxide. It is a beautiful material that is usually flawless and that often looks a lot more like the stereotypical layperson's idea of a diamond. But it isn't as hard, it scratches more easily, and it must be priced correctly.
What Are Some Fast Ways to Tell Between the Two?
One way is to look at the edges of the facets through a loupe or magnifying glass. Diamonds will often have very sharp-looking edges, while CZ does not. Another way is to look at the reflections when you shine light on the stone. Diamonds tend to sparkle with a lot of darker or grayish reflections, while CZ tends to give off a lot of rainbowy reflections. Of course, the cut and the jeweler who faceted the stones influence these appearances, too, so these aren't black-and-white ways to tell. But they do help.
What Can You Do if You Want a Diamond on a Budget?
One of the best ways to get a real diamond when you can't spend much is to find a reputable diamond buyer who offers secondhand diamond jewelry for sale. These pieces are usually priced at much lower amounts because of their secondhand nature. Look for buyers who have real gemologists on staff (look for certification from places like the Gemological Institute of America) because they will have verified what the stone is before accepting and re-selling the jewelry.
When Is Cubic Zirconia Acceptable?
None of this is to say that cubic zirconia is never acceptable. CZ is pretty and it is inexpensive, which means that if you just want a nice-looking ring and can't spend much, you could easily get one with a CZ stone. But that's the important thing -- you should know that you're buying CZ for an appropriate price. CZ is not acceptable if you think you're buying a diamond and are paying diamond prices.
Take your time while shopping for a diamond, and stop in at several diamond buyers' businesses to see what the current stock is like. When you look at pre-owned jewelry you'll find a lot of customized designs that you won't find anywhere else, and you'll want lots of time to browse.