Difference between Zircon and Cubic Zirconia
We know it is difficult to differentiate zircon from synthetic cubic zirconia(CZ). While zircon and cubic zirconia have the same attributes in appearance and names, that’s where the similarities end. Zircon and CZ are often mistakenly known as the same gemstone, however, the tow do not have the same chemistry or crystal structure.
Zircon is one of the oldest naturally occurring gemstones in the world. It is older than diamond. One small crystal found in Jack Hills of Australia was known to be 4.375 billion years old. This ancient gemstone was used by ancient people. There are also several places mentioned in the history where zircon is mentioned, the most notable being in Exodus, described as one of the gems in the breastplate of Aaron. Zircon is 6.5-7.5 Mohs in the hardness, has diamond like luster and tremendous fire have made zircon a popular diamond simulant. It is also known as December birthstone. Some zircons are also known as cat’s eye as they give effect of cat’s eye. Zircon’s several attributes have made it a gem to cherish.
Cubic Zirconia (CZ) is one of the best-known, man-made diamond stimulants. This is a synthetic gemstone and has the same physical and optical properties as natural occurring cubic zirconia discovered in the 1930s as inclusions in a natural zircon crystal. There is a process to synthesize CZ that became available in the 1970s and soon it became an extremely popular and affordable diamond stimulant. CZ is free from any inclusions but sometimes it has small gas bubbles or zirconium oxide, remnants of its growth in the laboratory. It has luster like that of a diamond and comes in a variety of color and shapes.
Therefore while zircon and synthetic cubic zircon may appear to be the same stone and have the same confused name, they are vastly different stone. The most important difference to remember is that zircon is a naturally occurring mineral while CZ, even though found in nature before, is a lab created gemstone and is therefore not considered a mineral. Both of these gemstones are beautiful and affordable.