Is A Lab Created Diamond A Cubic Zirconia?

While lab grown diamonds have been around since the early 1950s, their presence in diamond jewellery is a relatively new phenomenon. This has led to a few misconceptions about lab grown diamond jewellery, especially their connection to simulant diamond stones such as moissanite and cubic zirconia.

But exactly how much do these stones have in common with lab-grown diamonds? Much like lab grown diamonds, cubic zirconia sparkles, is an affordable alternative to natural diamonds and is man-made with naturally-occurring minerals. But are they the same thing? Is a lab created diamond a cubic zirconia? Read on to find out.


Is A Lab Created Diamond A Cubic Zirconia?

So, is a lab created diamond a cubic zirconia? They may look a lot alike and be produced in a very similar manner but lab created diamonds and cubic zirconia stones are not the same. While lab grown diamonds are considered to be real diamonds, simulant diamonds like cubic zirconia are not. This is because lab grown diamonds share the same physical and chemical properties as their mined counterparts, while cubic zirconia stones have a completely different mineral structure all together.

Lab Created Diamond vs Cubic Zirconia

How They’re Made

Produced from a tiny piece of a mined diamond, referred to as a diamond seed, and carbon, the characteristics of a lab grown diamond are practically identical to a mined diamond. So much so that even a diamond industry expert wouldn’t be able to tell the two stones apart without specialised equipment. You could even place a lab grown diamond under the reader of a diamond tester and the machine would recognise the stone as an authentic diamond. 

On the contrary, cubic zirconia stones are produced from the mineral zirconium dioxide. And while cubic zirconias have been found in nature in the past, the majority of the stones are man-made. Unlike lab-grown diamonds, a professional jeweller and even those who own a lot of diamonds would be able to tell the two stones apart without the use of any special jewellery magnifying equipment. 

Their Hardness

Both diamonds and cubic zirconia have distinguishing features that are blatantly obvious if you look hard enough. One major difference, for example, is their hardness. Diamonds have a reputation for being one of the toughest minerals on earth, so tough that they are pretty much unbreakable and can cut through other hard substances like concrete and glass. 

Although cubic zirconia stones are still relatively strong compared to many other minerals, they are not completely indestructible. Ranking at number eight on the Mohs Scale of Hardness, all the while mined diamonds and lab-grown diamonds both rank in on the tenth spot, cubic zirconia stones can become scratched or even chipped if they suffer a hard blow. 

Physical Appearance

Another key difference between cubic zirconia and diamonds is their physical appearance. Everyone knows that one of the major appeals of diamonds is their sparkle. Known as a diamond’s brilliance, this sparkle is the result of a diamond’s facets (its edges and sides) refracting in the light. While a diamond’s brilliance will resemble a white light, a cubic zirconia’s brilliance tends to almost be a rainbow colour.


4 Ways To Tell A Lab Created Diamond From A Cubic Zirconia

So now you know the answer to “is a lab created diamond a cubic zirconia?” is “no!”, we want to give you some tips on how to tell the two apart (without any specialised equipment).

1. The Fog Test 

If you are testing mounted or pronged jewellery such as diamond rings or diamond earrings, a great way to determine if your stone is a diamond or cubic zirconia is with your breath. Due to the insane amount of heat and pressure required to produce a diamond, diamonds are known to disperse heat. As a result, your warm breath or a hot and steamy shower likely won't cause your diamond to fog up, and if it did, it would likely only be for a second or two.

Cubic zirconia stones on the other hand are quite the opposite and would likely stay fogged for longer than a diamond would. To try the fog test, simply breathe some hot air onto your stone and analyse the results with a magnifying glass or by holding your reading glasses up to the stone. 

2. The Light Test 

As already established, lab-grown diamonds and mined diamonds emit a completely different sparkle to cubic zirconia stones. So, another way you can test whether your favourite diamond bracelet or diamond pendant contains real diamonds is by going outside or into a highly-illuminated room and holding the stone up to the light. If it refracts a neutral light that is more grey or white in a colour, it is most likely a mined or lab-grown diamond. If you hold your stone up to the light and it refracts a great deal of colour, it is most likely a zirconia. You can also try using a UV light. Some diamonds are known to exhibit fluorescence as well as phosphorescence, an afterglow that remains when lab-grown diamonds are exposed to UV lighting. Due to fluorescence and phosphorescence, both lab-grown diamonds and mined diamonds will sometimes turn a blue colour when exposed to UV lighting. On the contrary, cubic zirconia will have a mustard yellow glow under ultraviolet lighting.

3. Examine Its Flaws

Another way to determine whether your stone is a diamond or cubic zirconia is just by looking at it. If you have access to a magnifying glass, what you see on your stone may just be enough to help determine what it is. While diamonds may seem perfect and they very much are in their own way, most diamonds have some imperfections. Known as inclusions, these imperfections are small scuffs and nicks present on the inside of a diamond and they occur during the formation process as a result of the high pressures and high temperatures. Because of how lab-grown diamonds are made, most of them, particularly HPHT diamonds will feature inclusions.

It is extremely rare for diamonds not to feature inclusions and if they don’t, the diamond would be very expensive. Since they are created artificially and with vastly different methods to lab-grown diamonds, cubic zirconia stones don’t often have inclusions which can be very telling if you put a magnifying instrument up to your stone.

4. The Water Test 

Even though this method is arguably more effective for unset stones, water is another great tool you can use to discover if your stone is indeed a real diamond. Diamonds are very dense, so if you were to place a diamond into a cup of water, it would likely sink to the bottom quite quickly. If you were to put a cubic zirconia stone in water, it would still sink to the bottom, however, not as quick as diamonds.

Now that you know that a lab created diamond is not a cubic zirconia, you can discover the answers to more of your burning questions about lab-grown diamonds, including the cost of a lab-grown diamond, are lab-grown diamonds as strong as real diamonds and why lab-grown diamonds are the smart shopping choice. 

Be sure to check out the full Luminesce range online, where you will find an exquisite range of timeless lab grown diamond engagement rings, earrings, pendants, bracelets and more. Sparkle now and pay later with Afterpay.

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