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There are a couple of types of simulated gemstones that are available. One type of simulated gemstone is a laboratory created gemstone, made to be chemically identical to the naturally occurring gemstone. At right you can view man made ruby gemstones and at left you can see man made sapphire gemstones. Because these gemstones are made to be chemically identical to the naturally occurring gemstone these man made or laboratory created gemstones are slightly more expensive than the Cubic Zirconia discussed below.
The second type of simulated gemstones are made from Cubic Zirconia. Cubic Zirconia, also called CZ, is a man-made clear crystal, or it can be colored in a variety of different colors. CZs are made of the chemical zirconium oxide (ZrO2) and can be cut, faceted and polished like all gemstones. CZs have a very high refractive index which is the property that allows them to reflect a lot of light in a manner similar to a diamond. The refractive index of CZs is close to the refractive index of diamonds and for this reason, both CZs and diamonds have that sparkle that makes these stones so special. The hardness of a CZ is 8.5, which is less than a diamond (hardness of 10) but more than quartz (hardness of 7). Having a hardness of 8.5 is very important because it means that CZs are durable and impervious to scratches from dust or sand (frequently dust and sand are composed of quartz with a hardness of 7). The bottom line on CZ's is that they look so similar to diamonds that most jewelers had to have new tests developed that would allow them to test the difference between the two. Visually, it is practically impossible to view a CZ and determine whether it is a diamond or not. Upon visual inspection, many jewelers will assume that a flawless, perfect stone with absolutely no inclusions or clouding is a CZ because it is hard to make a perfect diamond in nature, but easier to make a flawless CZ in the lab. CZs are suitable for every day wear because the only naturally occurring materials that are harder than a CZ are diamonds, sapphires and rubies. Naturally occurring dust and sand do not include diamonds, rubies or sapphires so dust and sand are not able to scratch a CZ.
A round 8mm CZ is the same size as a 2 carat diamond. Fortunately for us, they don't cost the same. A round 6mm CZ is the same size as a .84 carat diamond, and a round 4mm CZ is the same size as a 1/4 carat diamond.
If even a jeweler can't visually tell the difference between a CZ and a diamond, and the CZ is strong enough so that it won't become scratched or dull, isn't it worthy of consideration? You can view several of the colors of CZ's here. Remember, you get more ice at a better price!
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Last modified: January 19, 2010