What is the difference between Cubic Zirconia, Moissanite, Crystal, Glass, and Rhinestone?
(This is the original article, edited version appears in Bride 9 and Mocha Bride Fall 2009 Magazines)
In these recessionista times, shiny, budget friendly alternatives are being sought out in lieu of traditional diamonds for necklaces, earrings, pendants, bracelets, and even rings, but what exactly is the difference? Diamonds, the standard in clear, brilliant quality, and luxe jewelery is the bar for all other simulations.
Cubic zirconia (CZ), is the cubic crystalline form of zirconium, a metal. Since only the finest and rarest of diamonds are truly colorless, most having a tinge of yellow or brown, cubic zirconia is a good alternative in clarity as in most cases it can be made entirely colorless, equivalent to a perfect "D" on the Diamond Color grading scale.
The synthesized material is hard, optically flawless and usually colorless, but may be made in a variety of different colors to simulate gemstones. Due to its low cost, durability, and close visual likeness to diamonds, synthetic cubic zirconia has remained the most economically important competitor for diamonds since 1976 when commercial production first began.
In 1973, Soviet scientists perfected the technique of creating a CZ gem, which they named the jewel Fianit, but the name was not used outside of the USSR and the Soviets published their findings. Once commercial production began in 1976, annual global production grew to 50 million carats (10 tonnes) by 1980. Contemporary production of cubic zirconia is virtually flawless, whereas most diamonds have some sort of defect. Deco Belle.com carries a wide selection of clear, and simulated gemstone Grade A quality CZ jewelry in our China section.
CZ’s main competition as a synthetic gemstone is the more recently cultivated material, synthetic moissanite (named after its Nobel Prize winning discoverer). When first discovered while examining rock samples from a meteor crater located in Canyon Diablo, Arizona in 1893, moissanite was mistaken for diamonds. Its double facet edges (as opposed to single facet edges of a diamond) and its nearly colorless with a grade range of I-J-K on the Diamond Color Grading scale make it difficult to distinguish from diamonds by the untrained eye. Its impressive properties include comparable index of refraction and better than twice the fire of diamond. It is only slightly less expensive than diamonds due to the difficulty in growing the crystals.
Speaking of crystals, all crystals are glass, but not all glass is crystal. What separates the two? Lead. The significance of lead lies in how the refractive index of the finished product increases, straight out shine! In addition to lead, special cutting and polishing processes are used to give crystal glass even more sparkle.
Crystals are often heavier, more delicate, and more expensive than glass, with the ultimate standard in crystal jewelry being Swarovski Austrian. This brand has more fire and brilliance (by adding 32 percent lead creating a high refraction rate) than any other crystal jewelry on the market. In addition different chemical coatings are added to the crystal surface to enhance color and sparkle. The difference is quite remarkable and affordably priced, much less expensive than jewelry made from precious stones. These lovely crystals can be found in our Paris section at DecoBelle.com
Glass in its most basic form is molten sand that is combined with various additives and cooled with such celerity that crystal structures have no time to form. There is not much brilliance, or fire on the surface of glass jewelry. The best and highest quality glass is handmade Murano glass from the island of Murano, in Venice, Italy. At DecoBelle.com we have a wide selection of handcrafted Murano glass jewelry.
Glass goes even farther with some rhinestones being made of glass. Other rhinestones (so named as originally the rock crystals were gathered from the river Rhine) are synthetically made of crystal or acrylic. The difference between the crystals and rhinestones is not that clear-cut. Rhinestone has a metal or foil backing to reflect light and make the stone glitter. Crystal, on the other hand, requires no backing and is always made of glass and lead that give the stones extra sparkle and brilliance. For dazzling craft projects, rhinestones are fine, but crystals fare better in jewelry presentation and quality.
Labels: cz, gemstone, glass, magazine, millefiori, murano, paris, venice
by: Deco Belle Inc.