Why Buy Cubic Zirconia Engagement Rings?

Why Buy Cubic Zirconia Engagement Rings?

While Cubic Zirconia aren’t the only choice for a frugal but beautiful engagement ring, they are a solid option that should seriously be considered.

Why buy Cubic Zirconia Engagement Rings? Cubic Zirconia can be wonderful for engagement rings. The stones look very similar to diamonds, but are up to 98% cheaper for comparable stones. They also come in a wide range of shapes and fancy colors. Because the stone is 100% lab-created, they’re more ethically and environmentally responsible too.

An engagement ring is a big deal. It celebrates a really special moment in time, and wonderful things on the horizon too. Cubic Zirconia may be the right option. Here’s why …

1. Surprises are Fun—But Can Go So Wrong!

Surprise proposals often involve a dangerous guessing game, where a groom-to-be picks a ring out for his bride-to-be. Sometimes it’s a very different style than she would have picked for herself. She loves him—but HATES the look of the ring he chose. She doesn’t want more expensive—just different.

This form of ring roulette is played by men all the time. Sometimes it works out, other times (probably more often than not), a woman has to live everyday with an expensive ring that he really hates the look of.

My Brother in Law had this very thing happen. They got married just a couple of months before my wife and I did. He surprised his wife with a ring he had picked and was proud of. She hated it from the start, and still hates it today. It’s just not a style that she really vibes with. One day she’s like to get a replacement.

A quality Cubic Zirconia could give you the best of both worlds. You would have a beautiful, and inexpensive, ring to propose with. If she doesn’t love the look of the ring you chose, you could later take her to pick out a ring that she’ll really love for the long-term after she has accepted your proposal. This approach allows you to ‘have your cake, and eat it too.’ You get to surprise her, and she still gets to participate in picking the ring she’ll wear for decades to come.

2. Marriages with a More Frugal Start Last Longer

This flies in the face of what marketing messages have lead us to believe, but researchers at Emory University conducted a survey that found an adverse correlation between the amount of money spent on an engagement ring and marriage duration.

They found that couples spending more than $20,000 were 350% more likely to divorce than those that fell in the $5,000 to $10,000 range. Couples spending $2,000 to $4,000 on their engagement ring were 130% more likely to end in divorce than those that spent $500 to $2,000.

These researchers also observed the same inverse relationship when it came to the total amount of money spent on the overall wedding. The more couples spent, the higher the rate of divorce. Those spending $1,000 or less on their wedding ceremony and festivities were the least likely to get divorced as years passed. That’s a pretty frugal wedding, but it’s doable.

The study doesn’t mean that every couple the bought a big ring or had a big wedding is destined to divorce, or that every couple that bought an inexpensive ring and had a small wedding will have a relationship that lasts, but there seems to be something important in the study that shouldn’t be overlooked.

Money stress is the leading cause of divorce in the United States. Maybe blowing money on the big ring and the big wedding is a preview of tendencies that continue as the marriage starts. Not only might a new couple coming off a big expensive wedding have wedding debt, but they might go big with other things in their life too (the house, the car, vacations, etc) until financial stress boils over, leading to money fights and eventual divorce.

It could be that those couples who keep things simple, and as inexpensive as possible, carry those tendencies into their marriages and avoid a great deal of financial stress and fighting as a result. Financial stress seems to be a key factor sabotaging many of the marriages that start out on the wrong financial footing.

Why Buy a Cubic Zirconia Engagement Ring_To Avoid Money Stress and Fighting

The Emory study found that women who spent $2,000 to $4,000 for their rings were 200% to 300% more likely to report feeling stressed about mounting wedding debt than brides that spent $500 to 2,000 on their rings. Both men and women that reported spending less than $1,000 on their wedding had 82% to 93% lower odds of being stressed about wedding debt than those who spent $5,000 to $10,000.

Financial stress leads to irritability, long working hours, cutting back and scrimping that can add friction to marriage and lead to arguments. One important reason to purchase a Cubic Zirconia ring instead of a diamond, is that it helps to keep your costs down. It helps you avoid debt and money stress. It gives you a more solid financial foundation.

3. Disproportionate Value

A high quality Cubic Zirconia can cost up to 98% less than a diamond that’s comparable in color, cut, clarity, and carat weight (the 4 C’s of diamond value). The Cubic Zirconia offers disproportionate value because it isn’t 98% less durable or less attractive than diamond.

The Cubic Zirconia will look incredibly similar. It’s high rate of refraction and dispersion mean that it isn’t a dull or lifeless stone by any means. It has lots of sparkle brought by its high rate of refraction and dispersion. If a CZ can bring you 90% of the utility and intangible value that a diamond would provide at 2% of the cost, that’s disproportionate value that makes it hard to justify the extra 98% that the diamond would cost us in order to gain only 10% of additional utility value.

4. It’s Better to Lose a Little Than a Lot When you Buy

The diamond industry tries to make you feel that the big expensive diamond engagement ring can be justified because it’s an “investment.” In reality, buying a diamond ring at retail isn’t an investment in any way, shape, or form. It’s a money loser.

Have you ever heard someone advise you to never buy a new car, because their value plummets as soon as you drive it off the lot? Buying a used car allows you to avoid that instant loss of value. Diamonds work the same way. If you went back to a jeweler you purchased a diamond from earlier in the day and tried to sell it back to him, he probably wouldn’t take it.

He can get inexpensive diamonds with payment terms from his suppliers, why would they want to buy yours for cash. You would need to discount your ring by 30% to 70% in order to off-load to the jeweler or another party most likely.

Knowing that, it makes a lot of sense to keep my costs (the amount at risk) down as low as possible. If I have to resell a $10,000 diamond ring, I’m going to take a financial beating! If I can’t use my $100 Cubic Zirconia though, I won’t lose any sleep even if I can’t resell it at all.

5. They Could Say, “No”

This one is no fun to talk about, but it’s a reality. Occasionally, when someone pops the big question, the answer is back is ‘no.’ Sometimes the other party is just nervous and needs some time. Sometimes signals got crossed and misinterpreted. Regardless of the reason, it’s obviously a painful experience. What makes that heart pain even worse, is the realization that you now have a diamond ring that you sent thousands of dollars on, but can’t return or resell without taking a major loss.

A Cubic Zirconia could be viewed as insurance against the unexpected. If they say, ‘yes,’ they get a beautiful ring that didn’t run you into serious debt. If they say, ‘no,’ you don’t have to deal with a major financial loss at the same time you’re dealing with the shifting relationship.

6. They Might Not Make it to the Altar

This one isn’t much fun to dwell on either, but sometimes one of you calls the wedding off (for a variety of reasons). When that happens, it isn’t much fun to start negotiating who keeps the expensive ring. The other party may feel entitled to it, and you realize that you would have to take them to court to get it back. It’s a hard position to be in when you’re dealing with an expensive ring and a sudden change of plans.

This difficult situation becomes much less complicated if the ring in question is topped by a Cubic Zirconia. Walking away without the ring won’t cause serious financial harm if you need to.

7. Diamonds get lost, stolen, and broken

Have you ever felt sick to your stomach when you lose something that has a lot of sentimental value? The only thing that makes that nauseousness worse, is when that item also has significant financial value.

Rings do get lost. Sometimes your rings doesn’t fit well and slips off your finger unnoticed. Retracing your steps doesn’t help. You can’t find the ring.

Rings get stolen. I went into debt to buy a diamond wedding ring for my wife nearly twenty years ago. I didn’t know that I had other options at the time. Some years later, my wife was cleaning the kitchen the morning before a crew was going to arrive to replace our windows. She took off her ring and set it in the window sill above the sink.

Later in the day, she realized she had forgotten to put it back on and went to get it. The ring was gone. My wife called the window company and explained her concern. The person she spoke with didn’t seem to believe her story and wasn’t particularly kind about it, but he said he’d look into it. He confronted his workers and was able to come up with the ring. It was a close call with a rare happy ending.

Rings also get damaged or broken sometimes. Diamonds are really scratch resistant because they’re extremely hard. That hardness also brings brittleness. Diamonds are far more susceptible to being chipped, cracked, or broken than most of the softer stones. Getting dropped, accidentally closed in a door, or a number of other unfortunate circumstances can break your ring and severely hurt your finances.

Again, if you have a Cubic Zirconia, a lost, damaged, or stolen ring is sad and frustrating, but not financially devastating too.

8. People Can’t Tell Anyway

Cubic Zirconia look very similar to diamonds. Friends, family, and co-workers probably won’t be able to tell a CZ from a diamond, as long as you don’t go way overboard with size. Since Cubic Zirconia as so inexpensive, there’s a temptation for some to get a huge 8 carat ring because they love the way it looks.

Recognizing that an 8 carat diamond would likely be far outside your financial grasp, they’ll often assume your ‘diamond’ is fake. If you keep your stone size reasonable (similar to the size you could afford in diamond), most people will assume your CZ is diamond.

9. To Push Back Against Marketer Brainwashing

Marketers influence our thoughts and opinions on things. That’s what they’re paid to do, and it’s effective because you don’t even realize it happening. If you associate diamonds with engagement rings and marriage, that’s because of cultural shift brought about by marketers. It isn’t something you were born with.

In fact, Diamonds haven’t always been part of the marriage tradition. Prior to the 1940’s other gems like Opals and Sapphires were the norm. It was specific ad campaigns to shift public opinion for their own profit that brought us to our current traditions.

De Beers, the largest diamond producer in the world, then and now, set a goal “to create a situation where almost every person pledging marriage feels compelled to acquire a diamond engagement ring.” De Beers was coached in memos regarding marketing strategy that, “Sentiment is essential to your advertising, as it is to your product…for the emotional connotation of the diamond is the one competitive advantage which no other product can claim or dispute.”

In the years since they launched their marketing efforts, De Beers has been so successful at sinking messages deep into society, that we fear judgement if we don’t buy the right kind of ring…or a big enough ring. That judgement isn’t just from the one we present the ring to. What will her parents think? What will her friends and co-workers say?

If a diamond isn’t presented that’s sufficiently impressive, the conditioned implication, is that he doesn’t love his bride-to-be very much, or that he just isn’t very successful or promising as a prospective husband.

In reality, does going into debt for a ring you can’t afford, and don’t really need, make someone more promising? It actually shows poor judgement, but again, I bought into the same conditioning and went into debt to buy a diamond for my bride when I got married, because that’s what I thought you had to do.

In the years since, I’ve learned about alternatives to diamonds like Cubic Zirconia and Moissanite. They’re beautiful and so much less expensive. I’ve wished that I could go back and do things differently. I could have given my wife a nicer looking Cubic Zirconia without taking on debt. That wouldn’t have changed the way I felt about her at all, or the impact of our vows.

In addition to building demand for their products, the diamond industry has spent huge sums influencing your opinion of diamond alternatives. They want you to see them cheap and inferior, even when they’re very similar or absolutely identical.

Want proof? Look at the history of Synthetic Diamonds. Synthetic Diamonds are man-made and completely Carbon based, just like mined diamonds. They’re chemically, physically, and optically identical to diamonds mined from the earth. That’s bad news for the traditional diamond industry. They’ve spent massive amounts of money and energy smearing man-made diamonds.

In 2018 the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) came out with new guidelines indicating that manufacturers and retailers no longer have to use the term “Synthetic” to describe lab-created diamonds. The word “Synthetic” suggests that something is fake or an imitation, but man-made diamonds are, in fact, diamonds. They even noted that it would be false or misleading advertising for a retailer to use the word synthetic to describe a competitor’s lab-grown diamonds. They suggested use of the word “Cultured,” as a component of accurately representing man-made diamonds going forward.

Losing such significant ground on this issue was certainly devastating to the diamond industry. Shortly following that announcement, De Beers shocked the industry by switching positions on the issue. They announced that they would start manufacturing lab-created diamonds as well.

Similar efforts to influence cultural opinion regarding use of stones like Cubic Zirconia and Moissanite continue today. They’re essentially positioned as acceptable stage jewelry, but nothing more.

10. Because the Money is Better Used Elsewhere

Diamonds used to be viewed as a luxury item for the most affluent. Brides didn’t expect them…or even want them. Demand hadn’t yet been manufactured through cultural manipulation. One of their main goals, was to form associations with, and emotional attachment to, diamonds. Women, at the time, were more practical in their wants and expectations. They’d rather have a new oven or a washing machine than a ring that just sat on their finger.

Why buy a CZ Engagement Ring

A quality one-carat Cubic Zirconia would likely cost between $100 and $300 depending on where you bought it and other factors like the color and cut of the stone. A comparable diamond would probably cost $5,000 to $10,000, again, depending on its cut, color, and clarity. If you bought a Cubic Zirconia, instead of an expensive diamond, how could you put the money you save to better use? Here are a few potential ideas:

  • Upgrade your Honeymoon
  • Offset other wedding costs
  • Put a down payment on a home
  • Pay down Student Loans or other debt
  • Invest it in a Mutual Fund or retirement account
  • Start a college fund for a future child
  • Save for a ‘rainy day’

In the end, you have a beautiful ring on your finger that sparkles and reminds you of your vows, but you also have extra money in the bank, less debt, or maybe a new roof or your head.

11. You May Need a Different Ring Style in the Future

Your needs evolve over time. At some point, you may find that you’d love a new look because band styles change. You may also need a new ring for more practical purposes. I purchased a solitaire for my wife when we got engaged. It proved to be an effective sweater snagger. The protruding diamond would catch on clothing pretty frequently. That was an annoyance, but it became a bigger issue when we had our first child. My wife didn’t want her ring scratching our baby, so she needed to wear a simple band that had a more flat surface for a while.

Mom Wearing a Cubic Zirconia Engagement Ring

The average engagement ring purchased in California is just over $10,000 currently. If you spent that much for your ring, it would be harder to set it aside and purchase a second ring. Because Cubic Zirconia is so affordable, you could purchase two or three in different styles over time and still only spend a small fraction of what a diamond ring would have cost.

12. Because Sentimental Value Can’t be Purchased

One of the major messages that De Beers has promoted, is the idea that your diamonds will have rich sentimental meaning to your children. They also promote the fact that you’re passing something along with real financial value.

Sentimental value has nothing to do with the fact that there’s a diamond on the ring. That has to do with the quality of love and memories that home life left behind. Your children would cherish a ring made of anything, if it symbolized love and commitment, but it isn’t what you buy (how you invest your money) that will achieve that…it’s how you act and where you invest your time.

Diamond rings put  your kids in a tough spot. Either money stays needlessly locked up in a ring that they won’t sell because it means so much to them (which means they can’t realize the monetary value), or they sell your ring and sacrifice the sentimental value because they need the money. Both avenues have a downside.

The alternative, is to buy a beautiful ring that doesn’t cost a lot. When your children inherit that, they’ll be able to fully enjoy the sentimental value of the memories and commitment it represents, without being conflicted over whether they should sell it…it’s just a keepsake.

13. The Cost of Diamonds is Artificially High

Diamonds aren’t as rare as you might think. Supply has been constrained to keep prices high. De Beers has enjoyed a diamond production monopoly for years. At times, they produced 90% of all rough diamonds sold. Stories abound, of various dirty antics and shady practices that helped them to gain and keep their monopoly for so long.

While De Beers produces fewer of the rough diamonds sold today (approximately one-third of the total supply), they control the lion’s share of diamond processing. They’ve convinced other diamond producers to send diamonds through their diamond processing company, which can then continue to regulate the flow of diamonds into the market. It’s essentially, a diamond cartel.

Their aim, is to keep prices high so diamonds remain a luxury item with a feeling of exclusivity, rather than becoming a commodity that’s within everyone’s financial reach. If everyone could afford diamonds, they will no longer be useful as class separators, with rich people buying them to display wealth, and the middle class and poor taking on debt to finance the appearance of wealth.

By purchasing a Cubic Zirconia, you opt out of their game rather than participating.

Related Questions

Is Cubic Zirconia Real?

There are several possible answers for this question. Yes, it’s a real stone, but it’s always lab-created. Cubic Zirconia isn’t found in nature. While it has a strong resemblance to diamond, it isn’t diamond. The two stones are made out of entirely different materials. Cubic Zirconia is made of zirconium dioxide, while diamonds are created from Carbon.

Are Cubic Zirconia Engagement Rings Tacky?

Whether or not Cubic Zirconia is ‘tacky’ is a matter of opinion, not fact. That sense that Cubic Zirconia is substandard and uncool (or tacky) is a conditioned. The diamond industry is afraid of competition from low cost alternatives that looks so similar to their product. Rather than celebrating the technological advances that bring such high quality stones to us so inexpensively, they use marketing influence to cause us to question our self worth if we choose alternatives.

In my opinion, there’s nothing tacky about wearing a beautiful stone, regardless of what it’s called, or where it came from. The fact that it can be purchased and enjoyed at such a low cost makes it more attractive and interesting, not less.

Are Cubic Zirconia a Better Value Than Moissanite?

Both Cubic Zirconia and Moissanite are fantastic diamond alternatives. Both are a considered hard stones, both are entirely lab-created, and both are substantially less expensive than diamond. Moissanite is a harder material (9.25 on Mohs Scale of Hardness), meaning that it’s even more scratch resistant than Cubic Zirconia or Sapphire. While still relatively inexpensive, Moissanite is more expensive than CZ.

Since value takes both cost and quality into account, it’s hard to say whether Cubic Zirconia is a better value, but it’s probably a better fit for people that have really serious budget constraints.

Related Posts:

Are CZ Engagement Rings Tacky

Can Cubic Zirconia Scratch? 4 Reasons Not to Obsess Over It

Are Synthetic Diamonds the Same as Cubic Zirconia?

Can Cubic Zirconia Scratch? 4 Reasons Not to Obsess Over It

Can Cubic Zirconia Scratch? 4 Reasons Not to Obsess Over It

No one wants to see a ring, as special as their wedding ring, get all scratched up if they can avoid it, so, of course, it’s a good idea to research whether a particular stone is durable enough to handle everyday wear…but be sure to take the information in context.

Can Cubic Zirconia scratch? Cubic Zirconia can get scratched. It’s considered to be a relatively hard stone, but anything that’s harder than it is, has the potential to scar its surface. Cubic Zirconia falls between 8 and 8.5 on Mohs Scale of Hardness. That’s hard enough to be quite scratch resistant, but not scratch proof.

Scratch resistance is a major talk point of diamond peddlers. It’s valid, but once your stone has a reasonable level of scratch resistance, it probably shouldn’t be your dominant focus. We share 4 reasons for that perspective below, along with some great information on the durability of Cubic Zirconia stones.

1. It’s All About Trade-offs

In a perfect world, you would, of course, want the stone that you choose for your engagement ring or wedding ring to be ideal in all key areas. It would be the most beautiful, the strongest, the hardest, and the least expensive. It’s a special ring that commemorates the most important commitment of your life.

In reality, ring shopping is a process of strategic compromise. It’s about deciding the things that are most important to you, and then getting as much as you can in those areas, without conceding anything too detrimental in other important areas. Here is a quick list of some of those key areas to consider.

  • Cost
  • Cut
  • Color
  • Size (in carats or mm)
  • Hardness (scratch resistance)
  • Toughness (fracture resistance)
  • Amount of cleaning required (some need more frequency to avoid looking dull)
  • Amount of Sparkle (and type of sparkle)

There are a lot of options available, but in reality, no stone is likely to meet all your hopes and wishes perfectly. If you nail the cost, cut, color, size and sparkle, you’ll probably have to make sacrifices in the remaining areas. If you want to nail the cut, color, hardness, amount of cleaning required, and amount of sparkle, you’ll probably have to make concessions on size and cost.

2. Cubic Zirconia is Extremely Durable, Given the Price

Diamond snobs love to talk about how Cubic Zirconia (often referred to as CZ) isn’t as hard as diamond, as if that’s news to the rest of us, or a fatal flaw…it isn’t. In reality, Cubic Zirconia is considered hard stone. I’d love to see a list of the things that you come in contact with in your everyday life that are hard enough to scratch a CZ. It would be pretty short list.

Of course, it’s far more likely that you’ll collect scratches over time on your CZ than on a diamond, but when the Cubic Zirconia costs 98% less than a diamond of the same size, I find myself willing to accept the risk.

The fact is, that diamonds also get scratched. They aren’t scratch proof…just very resistant. Scratching doesn’t only have to do with the hardness of materials. It also has to do with force and pressure. If you lightly drag a diamond along a brick wall it may not scratch, but if you press the diamond firmly into the brick as you drag it along the wall, it’s far more likely to come out scarred.

If I have a ring that’s going to eventually get lost, stolen, broken, or scratched, I’d much rather have that be a Cubic Zirconia than an expensive diamond that’s harder to replace because of its high price tag.

No one walks with their knuckles dragging on the sidewalk. You would likely be careful and protective of your ring, regardless of what it’s made of. In reality, with some basic care and awareness, you’ll avoid a great deal of potential damage.

Not all CZ is equal when it comes to important aspects of quality and durability. If you’d like to see some examples of beautiful CZ rings that buyers have provided glowing reviews for, click here.

3. Replacing Your CZ Stone is Inexpensive.

If your Cubic Zirconia does end up collecting scratches over time, and you have to get it replaced in 15 years, that probably won’t be a big deal, financially. You may spend another $150 –  $200 for a new stone and the replacement service, but then you have new-looking ring again, and you’ve still only spent a small fraction of what a comparable diamond ring would have set you back.

4. No One Got Harmed in Bringing Your CZ to the Market.

The icing on the cake, is sure knowledge, that no one got butchered in the name of bringing my diamond to market. No slave labor was involved. I’m not unknowingly funding terrorist organizations when I buy a lab created stone.

Before we delve into the more information on what CZ is made of, just how hard it is, etc, I wanted to frame the discussion and put it in perspective. Yes, CZ can scratch…it’s possible, but the material is very scratch resistant. No, it isn’t as hard or even remotely as expensive as diamond. When it’s all said and done, that feels like a really fair tradeoff to me.

Where Cubic Zirconia Comes From

Cubic Zirconia is a man-made stone that has been mass produced for Jewelry since the 1970’s. In those early days, stone quality wasn’t great. They didn’t look as similar to diamond and they now do. Those early stones would also cloud up pretty severely over time.

A milky looking stone didn’t work well for women wanting a diamond alternative, so manufacturers had to go to work on finding a way to better stabilize the stone. They eventually found additives that did the trick and helped stones to remain much clearer.

Today, it’s generally only the ultra-cheap stones that get cloudy on their own. Those manufacturers cut corners on materials and process in order to save costs and create profit margin. The result is a stone that may look fairly nice initially, but won’t stand the test of time. Even quality stones can start to look cloudy if they’re damaged or dirty. We’ll talk more about that a little later.

To find inexpensive Cubic Zirconia where corners weren’t cut, check out our most trusted suppliers.

Cubic Zirconia is comprised of very clear crystals that are made from Zirconium Oxide and an stabilizing agent like yttrium or calcium oxide. The resulting stones is highly refractive, meaning that it creates a great deal of sparkle. It also has high dispersion, meaning that much of the sparkle is broken up in the spectrum of light, causing it to be reflected back as colorful flashes that dance across the surface of the ring.

Mohs Scale of Hardness

The Crystals manufactured as Cubic Zirconia are relatively hard, but can be scratched. Understanding just how hard CZ is, and all the things that are capable of scratching it, is much easier and a lot more clear using a common scientific tool, called Mohs Scale of Hardness.

Friedrich Mohs built the scale in the early 1800’s by gathering 10 elements and then arranging them in order of hardness from the softest material to the hardest. He could easily determine where they belonged in the line up based on which elements were capable of scratching other elements. Talc, the softest element, couldn’t scratch any of the other other samples. Diamond, the hardest could scratch all of them.

Friedrich then assigned a number to each of his ten original elements based on their place in that original lineup, which again, was based on their relative hardness.

Any solid material, in theory, could be placed somewhere on Mohs scale based on what it’s capable of scratching…and what’s capable of scratching it. Based on where it falls in that line up, it would be given a number. That number would immediately communicate the relative hardness of a given material. If you’re familiar with Mohs Scale, you would instantly know something important about the relative hardness of any unfamiliar item by simply learning it’s rating on the scale. You immediately know the things that are harder than the item you just learned of, and the materials that are softer.

Cubic Zirconia is rated between 8 and 8.5, depending on the specific stone being evaluated. For simplification, we’ll just use 8.5 from here on out when discussing CZ. One important bit of info that you need to know, is that Mohs Scale doesn’t have consistent spacing between numbers…it isn’t proportional.

This means that there isn’t a consistent and balanced increase in hardness between a 9, a 9.5, and 10 on the scale. For example, A diamond (rated at 10) is 4 times harder than a Sapphire (which is rated at 9) and six times harder than Topaz (which is rated at 8). A Sapphire probably isn’t twice as hard a Cubic Zirconia though. Again, the numbers on the scale aren’t evenly spaced. In reality, the scale simply communicates, which materials are capable of scratching other materials.

Carbon Coatings

It’s exciting to see the rapid pace of innovation with diamond alternatives in recent years. One new development related to Cubic Zirconia, is the introduction of carbon based coatings.

Enamel protects your teeth from cavities. If your natural enamel isn’t thick or strong enough, the dentist can apply a clear coating that works as a super hard protective shell.

Carbon coatings work similarly. They provide a diamond like scratch resistance for your ring, while still helping you save significant money.

Hardness vs Toughness

As you evaluate rings, it’s valuable to understand the relationship between hardness and toughness. Most stones are strong in one area and weak in the other. Again, die-hard diamond fans will argue that diamonds are super hard and can’t be scratched. Diamonds actually can be scratched, but their extreme hardness also makes them somewhat brittle. They can chip, crack, or break much more easily than stones like Cubic Zirconia.

Cubic Zirconia is probably a better all around stone in the sense that it’s hard and fairly scratch resistant, while also being less prone to breaks and fractures of various kinds because it’s softer than diamond.

Top Maintenance Tips

In order to avoid issues with scratches, it’s a good idea to remove your ring before doing housework,  yard work, or heading to the gym. Those physical activities can put your ring in jeopardy if you’re not extremely careful.

Wash your ring every week or two with warm soapy water and a very soft toothbrush. It’s probably best to just use mild dish soap for that. Rinse and dry thoroughly when done.

You can also use an Ultrasonic cleaner with CZ if you want a ‘set it and forget it’ approach to keeping your rings super clean and sparkly. These machines really do take most of the time and effort out of cleaning your ring. This is the same type of cleaning mechanism that many jewelers use every day. Instead of paying a jeweler to do it for you, you can clean the ring yourself at home if you have your own Ultrasonic cleaner. The cost of home units is now REALLY affordable. Amazon offers This great Ultrasonic Cleaner for home use. They have a really great price on it. These machines are so convenient and do a fantastic job.

Related Questions

Are Cubic Zirconia better than Diamonds?

The answer is different for each bride. It depends on the features and benefits that are most important to the individual, and of course, on their budget. Generally speaking, I feel that Cubic Zirconia are a much better value than diamond.

They cost less than 2% of what a comparable diamond would run, but they give me a very comparable beauty and function. Durability won’t be nearly as strong, but again, I can replace my stone down the road if needed and still save a massive sum.

Is Moissanite more Durable than Cubic Zirconia?

Moissanite is an impressive stone for engagement rings and wedding bands. It’s more expensive than CZ, but far less expensive than mined diamonds, or even lab-created diamonds. In terms of hardness, Moissanite is rated a 9.25, so it’s incredibly scratch resistant.

Moissanite is also fiery and brilliant. It’s a beautiful stone, and worth considering.

Does Cubic Zirconia Float?

Diamonds typically sink in water. Many simulated diamonds will float, or sink more slowly than diamond. Cubic Zirconia is about 1.7 times more dense than diamond, so it’s also a sinking stone.

Related Posts:

Which is Better Moissanite or Cubic Zirconia?

Are CZ Engagement Rings Tacky

Do Cubic Zirconia Look Like Real Diamonds?

Is White Sapphire the Same as Cubic Zirconia?

Is White Sapphire the Same as Cubic Zirconia?

White Sapphire and Cubic Zirconia are both commonly used as diamond alternatives.

Is White Sapphire the same as Cubic Zirconia? White Sapphire and Cubic Zirconia are not the same stone. They have different chemical and optical properties. White Sapphire is a naturally occurring stone that is both mined from the earth and created in laboratories. Cubic Zirconia is not a natural stone. It can only be produced in a lab.

Since these stones each have different properties. The rest of this post will dive into the details of their strengths and weaknesses, so you can determine if either might work well for your ring.

The Origins of White Sapphire

White Sapphire is a Corundum. The Corundum family includes all Sapphires and Rubies.

Pure Corundum is naturally transparent, but trace amounts of various other elements can the various rainbow of colors that the Corundum family has become known for. Technically, red Corundum is known as Ruby, blue Corundum is known as Sapphire, and all other varieties of Corundum are grouped under the umbrella term ‘Fancy Sapphire.’

Corundum boasts more than just a wide range of colors, it’s also one of the hardest materials. In fact, it’s second only to diamond in hardness.

Today, Sapphires are both naturally occurring and man-made in laboratories. Lab created stones are identical to earth mined stones in every way. They’re made of the same things and are visibly indistinguishable, and for jewelers and gemologists.

Sapphires have a long history. Their rarity and beautiful colors have made them prized possessions of the rich and royal throughout time. Today, earth grown Sapphires are mined in places like India, Africa, Thailand, and Myanmar.

During the 1990’s, White Sapphire became a popular alternative to diamond for many brides. As demand grew, the cost of the gem skyrocketed.

In the decades since, technology has continued to evolve. The quality of man-made diamonds, Moissanite, and Cubic Zirconia have all gotten dramatically better. Those advances have produced a range of great alternatives that have helped to drive the cost of White Sapphire back down.

The Origins of Cubic Zirconia

Cubic Zirconia is an entirely man-made stone that’s been used as a diamond alternative since the 1970’s. It’s comprised primarily of Zirconium Oxide and an additive like Calcium Oxide or Yttrium, that forms an optically perfect stone that’s consistently clear in color and free of inclusions and other imperfections.

As I mentioned earlier, advances in technology have allowed the quality of Cubic Zirconia to improve significantly over time. They now look more similar to diamond and last longer than early stones.

Not all Cubic Zirconia are created equal. There’s actually a quality scale ranging from ‘A’ (the lowest grade) to ‘AAAAA’ (the highest) that assigns a grade based on the 4 C’s (Color, Cut, Clarity, and Carat Weight). In theory, the very best stones carry a AAAAA rating, making it easy for novices to buy quality stones without having to know much about the 4 C’s.

In reality, manufacturers and retailers are inconsistent with their grading. Many retailers claim that their stones are AAAAA, even when they aren’t. Sometimes they’re aware of the deception, sometimes they aren’t. The manufacture may have made a claim about the quality of their stones that an uninformed retailer is just passing along. For all those reasons, it’s very much a ‘buyer beware’ environment.

You may hear people using the term Cubic Zircon occasionally when talking about Cubic Zirconia. They aren’t interchangeable names. Zircon is actually an entirely different, naturally occurring, stone. Because it has a similar sound, people sometimes get confused.

Hardness

The hardness of a particular stone is critical, because when it comes to rings, hardness equals durability. The softer a particular stone is, the more susceptible it is to scratching. As the stone on a rings collects more scratches, it’s sparkle diminishes, and it often gets cloudy and dull.

In 1812, a German Geologist by the name of Friedrich Mohs developed a scale that’s used to compare and communicate the relative hardness of various materials. It essentially communicates which minerals are capable of scratching other minerals.

Mohs picked 10 initial minerals and then arranged them in order of hardness and assigned numbers to each based on where they fell in the lineup. The softest material (Talc) was labeled 1, the next softest was 2, and so on, until all ten had a number assigned.

Diamond was given a 10, as the hardest known material. Sapphire was the second hardest naturally occurring gem, with rating on Mohs scale of 9. While the 9 and 10 ratings are neighbors, that doesn’t mean that diamond is only a little harder than Sapphire. In reality, it’s about 4 times as hard. That disproportional disparity happens because Moh’s scale isn’t evenly spaced and distributed. Again, it’s comparative. It simply tells us which minerals are capable of scratching other minerals (for example, an 8 can scratch a 7, but a 7 can’t scratch an 8).

Cubic Zirconia is softer than White Sapphire. It’s rated between an 8 and 8.5, depending on the specific Cubic Zirconia being evaluated. Again, this means that White Sapphire could scratch a CZ, but a CZ couldn’t scratch White Sapphire.

While Cubic Zirconia is considered to be a relatively hard stone, it still can scratch as you go  about your everyday routines, so you have to be mindful of your ring and keep it as safe and protected as possible.

When a White Sapphire or Cubic Zirconia is shaped for a ring, many flat surfaces are cut all around the ring to help refract light back out of the top of the stone as a sparkle. Those surfaces are called facets. A round brilliant cut stone, for example, has approximately 58 facets.

There’s a well defined ridge where two facets come together. Cubic Zirconia will often see those ridges wear over time, making the stone look more worn and rounded. Diamonds are hard enough that the ridges in between facets will never wear down.

In addition to the rounding effect of normal wear and tear over time, Cubic Zirconia can develop kind of a frosted or cloudy look through the years, as they collect scratches, and those scratches then collect dirt and oil.

While hardness is generally a really helpful quality for engagement or wedding ring center stones to have, it does come with a downside. While ultra-hard gems, like diamond, resist scratching incredibly well, their hardness makes them somewhat brittle, leaving them more likely to get chipped or fractured than softer stones.

Color

When various trace elements are present in Corundum, it takes on the various shades of color that have made it famous. When there are trace amounts of Chromium, for example, the stone takes on a red hue and becomes Ruby. When it contains traces of titanium and iron, it becomes Blue Sapphire. When Corundum is free of other trace elements, it’s colorless. Colorless Corundum is referred to as White Sapphire.

Just as diamonds often have a slight yellowish tint them, White Sapphire can sometimes have a slight hue of some other color when very slight amounts of trace elements are present…but not enough to classify the stone as Blue Sapphire, Ruby, or some other gem. Because of this, it’s possible for White Sapphire to have a slightly blue, yellow, or even pink tint to it.

The more clear and colorless a White Sapphire is, the valuable it becomes. It’s rare to find a completely colorless sapphire, so the gems that contain slight tinting of various shades are very often heat treated to make the stones more clear. The process can also help to improve the stones clarity. Improving color and clarity raises the value of the stone. Manufacturers are supposed to disclose when stones have been treated in some way to improve their value, but that doesn’t mean it always happens.

Improving color through heat treatment has a permanent effect on the stone. The change isn’t just superficial, it continues throughout the gem, so heat treated White Sapphire can be re-cut or polished in the future without negatively impacting the color of the ring in any way.

White Sapphire is a very stable stone, that will not experience color change over time, so you don’t have to worry about your colorless stone taking on a yellow hue, for example, as the years pass.

Sparkle

As with all gems used in rings, especially as diamond alternatives, cut is most important. The cut of your gem will accentuate the features that you love most. When a quality round brilliant cut is applied to a White Sapphire, for example, it can be quite sparkly.

Even at its most sparkly though, it’s hard for White Sapphire to compare with stones like Cubic Zirconia for sparkle. It just doesn’t have the same propensity for the refraction that creates a fiery effect full of colorful sparkle. Some people actually appreciate the more muted sparkle of White Sapphire though. The want a beautiful, but more modest and understated look, which is exactly what White Sapphire delivers in spades.

Cubic Zirconia is full of sparkle, as long as it’s kept clean. It has a higher rating on the refractive index than White Sapphire. The refractive index measures how quickly light moves through a variety of materials. Various types of stones and gems handle the light that enters them differently…even if their cut and clarity are the same. Those that refract light faster appear more brilliant. Refraction has to do with the way captured light is fractured, scattered, and reflected back up through the stone.

Reflective Index Ratings:

  • Diamond = 2.42
  • Cubic Zirconia = 2.15- 2.18
  • White Sapphire = 1.76 – 1.77

Because Cubic Zirconia’s refraction tendencies are closer to a diamond’s, it’s going to look more like a diamond in terms of brilliance. While White Sapphire is lower than Cubic Zirconia in this area, it has a high rating compared to other natural gems. Infact, aside from diamond, there are no other naturally occurring gemstones that have a higher refractive index rating than White Sapphire. There are lab-created stones, like Moissanite, that have higher index ratings though.

If you’re wearing White Sapphire on your ring because you love the stone for what it is (White Sapphire), you’ll be very happy. If you really want something relatively inexpensive that others will mistake for diamond, Cubic Zirconia would be a better option.

Cubic Zirconia have more light dispersion than White Sapphire, and even more than diamonds. Dispersion is the prism effect that takes white light entering the stone, breaks it into a full spectrum of color, that is then reflected back to the eye as a show of dancing color across the ring. These colored sparkles are referred to as ‘fire.’ A stone that has high dispersion is said to be fiery.

Cubic Zirconia is a very fiery stone. So is Moissanite. Both throw off more colored sparkles than diamonds do. They also are much more fiery than White Sapphire. Some people don’t like to have much fiery sparkle in their ring. White Sapphire might be a better option if that’s the case. Others find fiery rings beautiful and can’t get enough. They’ll love simulantslike CZ or Moissanite as a diamond alternative.

Price

A quality AAA rated stone from a reputable dealer will likely cost $300 to $400/carat. That’s a colorless stone with excellent clarity. If retailers are significantly cheaper, you should be very cautious. It’s easy to buy a piece of glass that looks like it must be the real thing to an untrained eye.

For that reason, I’d definitely suggest that you avoid buying stones like these on auction type sites. You just never know what you’re going to get. It’s easy to get stuck with something that you can’t use or resell.

If the White Sapphire you find is significantly more than the range quoted above, it could be that you’re looking at a stone that hasn’t been heat treated. The listing should specifically mention that.

Remember, that most colorless stones have been heat treated to remove the negligible amount of tint they may have had from tiny trace amounts of elements like titanium or chromium. You’ll have to decide if you’re willing to pay a lot of extra money for a more rare colorless stone that hasn’t been heat treated.

While non-heat treated stones are far more rare, I personally wouldn’t pay any extra for them, because no one else knows or cares.

Cubic Zirconia can run a wide price range depending on a number of factors, but they’re still one of the least expensive diamond alternatives available. A 6.5 mm stone (the approximate equivalent of a 1 carat stone) typically starts between $100 and $150.

It’s possible to find 1 carat Cubic Zirconia stones for as little as $10, but you typically get what you pay for. You wouldn’t want to live in a cheap house where the builder cut lots of corners to save costs so they can sell the home to you as cheap as possible. If they skimped on nails and lumber, you home may not last nearly as long. The same is true for your ring.

In order to compete so aggressively on price, while still making a profit, manufacturers often cut corners with their materials. While their product may start out looking similar to a more expensive stone that was made with better materials, the difference in quality will start to be evident pretty quickly.

Ultra cheap stones often get very cloudy, which looks bad and makes them appear dull and lifeless. They may also scratch more easily, which again can lead to clouding and dullness.

At the other extreme, you may find 6.5mm Cubic Zirconia selling for up to $600 or so. Some of the more expensive CZ has a carbon coating to help protect the surface of the ring from scratching and outside contaminants.

Maintenance

Your wedding ring is going to need occasional cleaning to look its best, regardless of what it’s made of. Some materials need more frequent and careful care than others though.

Diamond will continue to sparkle even if it’s fairly dirty. Cleaning will make it sparkle even more. White Sapphire is a much needier stone. It tends to be impacted by dirt and oil from everyday life much more quickly.

You don’t have to dig in the garden or change the oil in your car for your ring to get dirty and begin to loose its shine. Even office workers that shuffle paperwork all day, will be surprised at how quickly the dirt in their environment combines with the natural oils from their skin to conceal the sparkle of their stone.

Soap scum, oil from lotions, hard water spots, chemicals and oils from hair products, and more can impact you stone. Since White Sapphire has a much lower refractive light rating than Cubic Zirconia, it’s impacted fastest by all of these elements, making the stone look tired and dull if not cleaned regularly. The same can happen with a Cubic Zirconia, but it might take a little longer before the stone has an impact that’s substantial.

Fortunately, there’s an easy solution. Remove your rings before showering or washing your hands. Also take them off before applying lotion, hand sanitizer, or hair care products as well. In fact, you should leave your rings off for 10 minutes following the use of any of those products as well.

In addition to exercising caution in those areas, you should clean your ring regularly. You may find that you need to clean your ring every week or two, in order for it to continue looking its best.

Cleaning your ring can be done by soaking the ring in warm water for 10 minutes and then scrubbing it gently  with a soft baby toothbrush and mild dish soap. Rinse well after washing, and then dry it thoroughly by dabbing it with a soft towel and then blow drying the ring on a cool air setting.

Be sure to scrub well around all areas of the setting where dirt and oils can get trapped between the ring and your stone. When gunk is overlooked and left there, it can really affect the way light is captured, refracted, and reflected.

Another good option for most rings, is to buy an Ultrasonic jewelry cleaner like jewelers use. They’re very affordable, and it will save you a trip to your jeweler and a major expense over time to own your own. You can buy a home unit for less than $40. At that prices, it’s worth owning to make ring maintenance easier over the long-term.

In Summary

Cubic Zirconia and White Sapphire clearly aren’t the same stone. They each have strengths and weaknesses. White Sapphire is mined from the earth, and has a rich history. It’s also a little more expensive, doesn’t sparkle as much, and requires regular cleaning.

Cubic Zirconia is entirely lab made. It’s softer than Sapphire, so it’s more susceptible to scratching, but less likely to chip. It has more sparkle and a lower price tag.

Either option can be a great frugal ring for your engagement or wedding, as long as you weigh the pros and cons thoughtfully and then shop carefully.

Related Questions

Is Lab Created White Sapphire Better or Cheaper?

Just like man-made diamonds are chemically and optically identical to mined diamonds, lab-created Sapphire is chemically, and visibly, an exact match for mined Sapphire. Man-made Sapphire is neither better or worse than the earth mined gem. Lab-made Sapphire is sometimes a little less expensive, but not always. It often sells right alongside mined Sapphire for the same price as well. Even when it costs less, the savings aren’t significant. A Man made stone might save you $10 per carat or so.

What’s the Meaning Behind White Sapphire?

Sapphires have long been a symbol of power and strength. The crowns, goblets, and thrones of many kings have been ornamented with them as a display of strength and prominence.

White Sapphire, specifically, is believed to help bring wisdom. It is also thought to provide clarity and objectivity to its wearer. The stone is believed to bring new perspectives on things that help foster creativity and eliminate negative thought.

All of that historic meaning behind White Sapphire, could make it an especially appropriate addition to a wedding or engagement ring, if the physical qualities of the stone meet your needs.

Is White Sapphire a Good Choice for Wedding Rings

White Sapphire can be an excellent choice, but it ultimately depends on what you’re after. If you want an almost identical diamond look alike, White Sapphire isn’t for you. If you can wear and appreciate White Sapphire on it’s own merits, you’ll probably love it. It’s a semi-precious gem that’s relatively hard, clear, and inexpensive.

Related Posts:

What Does Created White Sapphire Mean?

Lab Created Diamond vs Moissanite | Look, Durability, & Cost

Why Buy Cubic Zirconia Engagement Rings?

 

How Can You Tell if Morganite is Real or Fake?

How Can You Tell if Morganite is Real or Fake?

Wasting time and money buying Morganite that turns out to be fake, is frustrating! You feel violated. The fake gem is likely made of glass, so you can’t us it in your engagement ring. This information should help you to shop for your gem more confidently, and avoid getting ripped off.

How can you tell if Morganite is real? There are warning signs that a particular Morganite stone might be fake, but the only way to know for sure, is to have it tested by a laboratory. Certification from respected labs can also help. If a price seems too good to be true, it typically is. Many ultra inexpensive sellers send colored glass.

The more you know about Morganite, the easier it will be to spot a fake Morganite stone. Unfortunately, there are a lot of fakes out there, so you’ll need this information!

What is Morganite?

Morganite is part of the Beryl family, like Emeralds and Aquamarine. It’s a beautiful gem that has coloring that’s often a fusion between peach and pink. The shade looks fantastic with most skin tones, and is especially striking when set in Rose Gold.

Brides that want color and uniqueness for their ring tend to love Morganite. While it’s not the lowest maintenance gem available, it’s rich with natural charm, elegance, and beauty. It also helps that it isn’t terribly expensive, in fact, it’s significantly cheaper than a pink diamond.

Morganite was discovered along the coast of Madagascar in the early 1900’s. It was proposed by a gemologist that had the wealthy banking tycoon JP Morgan as a friend and client, that the stone be renamed after him, which is why it’s called Morganite today.

Prior to the renaming, the gem was known as Pink Beryl or Rose Beryl. Impurities in the stone can often give Morganite a more yellow or orange appearance, so stones are often heated as a means of burning the impurities out of the stone, which increases the beautiful pink coloring that Morganite is famous for.

Morganite is a semi-precious gem. All Morganite is currently mined from the earth, not manufactured in a laboratory. It’s primarily mined in Madagascar and Brazil, but is also harvested from China, Africa, Russia, and a couple of places in the US. It’s actually considered to be a fairly rare gem.

In order for a gem to stand up to the wear and tear that it receives in jewelry, it needs to be at least a 7 on Mohs Scale of Hardness. Mohs Scale, is a 10 point scale that shows the relative hardness of various minerals. The way the scale is structured, the higher the number, the harder the material. Morganite is rated at 7.5 to 8, depending on the specific stone being evaluated. That’s harder than some gems used in engagement rings, and much softer than others.

How Do you Perform a Sniff Test?

A “sniff test,” is a quick evaluation of the simple facts of a transaction to see if something smells “fishy” or strange. It boils down to using your intuition or following your gut. It’s based on the premise, that if something seems too good to be true, then it probably is.

This absolutely true of gems! Being the frugal ring buyer that you are, you might scour the internet looking for the lowest possible price on a nice looking 1 carat, round cut, Morganite stone for your ring.

Your searching takes you to eBay, where you’re able to buy the gem for just $79, instead of the $300 price tag that most other jewelers have for a similar item. It’s probably not much of a stretch to say that 99.9% of all cheap Morganite sold on such sites is colored glass.

Aside from the frustration of wasting time on the item, you also wasted money. If a tight budget was the driver that caused you to go with Morganite instead of a pink diamond or some other gem, then you may have lost $79 that you really couldn’t afford to be without.

You obviously can’t use a stone made out of glass. While it might look just like Morganite for a few days, it isn’t, so it won’t have the same optical qualities or durability.

Based on all of that, it’s a good idea to ask yourself if the piece of Morganite that you’re evaluating is just too cheap to be believable. Is it being sold by a company that has a strong history and reputation? While you can’t let your guard down because of the history and reputation of a company, you’re certainly a lot safer overall buying from those types of sellers.

Not all small sellers are intentionally trying to take advantage of you when they sell you fake Morganite. At least in many cases, they’ve purchased from an international supplier, often from China or India, that has sold loose stones or finished rings that were labeled as Morganite. They bought them believing that they are, and are reselling them with full belief that they contain genuine Morganite.

How Can You Get a Professional Opinion?

If you take a piece of Morganite to a local jeweler, they should be able to quickly tell you if it’s an actual stone, or a piece of glass. They won’t need any fancy electronic equipment to test the stone, a simple Loupe is enough. The Loupe, is the eye piece that jewelers use for magnification. Chances are, that they won’t even charge you just to take a quick look to tell you if it’s glass or stone.

You could even talk to hobbyists that you find in local meetup groups if you’d like. Some of them know a lot and could almost certainly magnify your sample to at least tell you whether it’s an actual stone.

Sending the material that you believe to be Morganite to a laboratory for testing, would probably give you the greatest degree of certainty, but it also costs something for the testing. While rates vary, the test and report is likely to cost approximately $70.

What should Quality Morganite Cost?

A quality piece of Morganite that has nice coloring will typically cost about $300 per carat. Of course some will be a little higher and some will be a little lower, depending on where you buy it and number of other factors.

If you find Morganite that’s substantially more expensive than that, you may want to evaluate whether it’s the right place to purchase your gem. If you find prices substantially lower, you may want to proceed with extreme caution, in case the Morganite they’re selling isn’t real.

If you find a nice looking 1 carat Morganite gem that’s $259, should that raise a red flag. No, not in and of itself. I would strongly consider my confidence in the organization selling the stone though. In contrast, if you found a nice looking 1 carat Morganite ‘gem’ that was $30…run!

How to Can I Protect Myself from Being Scammed?

I mentioned reputation earlier, but that’s a really important component. If the local jeweler or online retailer has been open a long time and has a good reputation, that will help decrease the likelihood of an issue. Read product reviews, if they’re available for the stone or ring that you’re considering if they’re available. Pay special attention to the negative ones.

While product reviews are helpful, don’t take a lack of negative reviews as proof that a particular piece of Morganite is legitimate. Glass pieces could potentially end up fooling a lot of people for a long time.

In addition to specific product reviews, it’s a good idea to also search google and Facebook for reviews left by customers regarding the organization. It’s helpful to read positive reviews, but it’s even more important to read all of the negative reviews. Check the Better Business Bureau (BBB) website for complaints that have been filed against the organization that you’re thinking of buying from as well.

After reading through product reviews and any reviews or complaints regarding the organization, you should have a better feel for the quality of the product and the retailer.

A return policy is a really important protection that you should inquire about. If you had a 30-day return policy on a Morganite ring that you purchased, for example, that would provide a little time to stop by another jeweler to get confirmation that your ring isn’t Morganite colored glass.

Store policies that prohibit returns aren’t unusual or suspicious, but they do limit your flexibility and prohibit you from getting confirmation before you make a commitment to a ring you may not yet know enough about.

A Certification on the stone from a reputable laboratory would add a lot of assurance. Certificates from laboratories that aren’t well known shouldn’t be fully trusted. They could be made up for all you know, or they might essentially certify anything they get paid to provide a certificate for.

One of the biggest challenges with unknown laboratories, is that their grading language can be confusing (sometimes intentionally confusing). They can use terminology for their grades that make a stone appear to be of higher quality than it actually is.

I mentioned problems with both intentional and unintentional misrepresentation of jewelry and stones purchased through sites like eBay earlier. Many other sites that offer a platform to connect buyers and sellers have the same issues. They’re dangerous places to do business because it’s so hard to really know who you’re dealing with and what kind of product they’re offering.

Even when past buyers have glowing things to say about the product, there’s know way of knowing if the reviews are real, if they got the same product you’re buying, if the seller or the seller’s supplier made a change that is going to leave you with something very different than you thought you were buying.

My best advice, is to be frugal, but not foolish when it comes to buying your engagement or wedding ring. Too cheap can sometime be as big a problem as too expensive, because it makes you vulnerable to cheats and scammers.

Related Questions:

Is Morganite a Gem That You Can Wear Everyday?

Morganite can be worn everyday if you’re careful with it and your diligent about cleaning it. Some brides enjoy having multiple rings and changing them based on their mood and outfits. Rotating your rings means they see less wear and tear, but also require less frequent cleaning.

Will Morganite Pass for Pink Diamond?

Yes, many people might mistake a Morganite gem for a pink diamond. Jewelers and gemologists could tell them apart, but Morganite is beautiful, and massively cheaper than the diamond.

Which Other Gems are Colorful and Durable?

Stones like Ruby, Emerald, Sapphire, and Topaz come in a variety of gorgeous colors and are worth looking into for a distinctive engagement ring or wedding ring. You may even want to look into colored Moissanite. All of those potential candidates are, at least, as hard as Morganite. Hardness equals scratch resistance, which helps your ring looker longer.

Related Posts:

How is Morganite Graded for Gem Quality?

Which is Better Moissanite or Morganite?

What Color is Moissanite? All the Natural and Fancy Options

Synthetic Diamond Rings: Now Better Than Mined Diamonds!

Synthetic Diamond Rings: Now Better Than Mined Diamonds!

The days of debt for Diamonds are coming to a close … and hallelujah! That’s how I started my marriage nearly twenty years ago. Technology makes it possible for you to have real diamond made in laboratory for far less than you might think.

So, are synthetic diamonds actually better than real diamonds? Synthetic Diamonds literally are real diamonds in every sense. Like diamonds mined from the earth, they’re made entirely of Carbon. They look absolutely identical, so even professionals can’t visibly tell them apart, but man made diamonds are even harder than traditional diamonds, and WAY cheaper!

There’s a lot that you need to know about man made diamonds, in order to feel completely certain that they’re the right choice for you. Let’s dive right in to the details.

How Synthetic Diamonds are Made

There are a number of different methods that can be used, but the two most common for jewelry applications are the HPHT (high-pressure high-temperature) method, and the CVD (chemical vapor deposition) method. HPHT remains the most  popular, and traditional, method used.

The HPHT method involves placing a carbon “seed” in a chamber, and then applying intense heat and pressure to mimic the same process that the earth takes approximately 3 million years to complete in just weeks!

The CVD process involves the placement of a seed crystal into a vacuum chamber. A Carbon rich gas, like Methane, is then pumped into the chamber where high temperatures or microwaves break the gas down so that the Carbon atoms can then land and build up kind of like piling snow. It’s an accumulation process.

Of the two common methods for producing man made diamonds, CVD is the most cost effective. HPHT requires a lot of electricity and incredibly expensive equipment to create the extreme heat and pressure required.

CVD utilizes moderate temperatures and low pressure, so utilities, equipment, and maintenance are less expensive, which is why CVD Diamonds also typically are a bit less than HPHT Diamonds.

Created Diamonds are Visibly Identical to Mined Diamonds

Have you ever known twins that looks so identical that you couldn’t tell them apart? How about twins that are so identical that their own family couldn’t tell them apart without conducting some fancy electronic test each time? It’s hard to imagine, but that’s exactly how similar today’s man-made diamonds are to mined diamonds. Even a trained professional can’t distinguish them based on visible appearance…even under magnification.

Lab grown diamonds are physically, chemically, and optically identical to diamonds mined from the earth. No one looking down at the ring on your finger, including a jeweler or gemologist, would be able to tell if it’s a mined diamond or a lab diamond regardless of how closely they looked, lighting angle, or even using a loupe for magnification. They look absolutely indistinguishable once they’ve both been cut and polished.  

The Only Way to Distinguish a Man Made Diamond

Since even a trained eye can’t distinguish today’s lab-created diamonds from mined diamonds, an electronic device called a DiamondView tester was developed. It uses UV light to pick up on minute impurities in lab created diamonds, like nickel or nitrogen (among others).

Also, as diamonds crystallize, they form a grain (very similar to the grain in wood). Lab made diamonds tend to have a different grain pattern than natural diamonds. This is something that’s completely impossible to see, even under magnification, but it’s discoverable through testing with DiamondView equipment.

Lab-Grown Diamonds Never Get Cloudy or Change Color

As we earth-grown diamonds, lab-grown diamonds come in a variety of shades. Some are clear, while others have some degree of coloring (often a shade of yellow or brown). Color for lab diamonds is graded using same system that’s in place for mined diamonds.

Cultured diamonds will never cloud or experience change of color or appearance. As with below-ground diamonds, you should carefully clean your above-ground diamond regularly in order to keep dirt and oils form temporarily muting its shine. If cared for, these rings will retain their beauty indefinitely, and can be handed down to future generations.

Lab-Created Diamonds are Much Cheaper

As technological advances have made man-made diamonds much better, they’ve also gotten way cheaper. In 2016, for example, a major price shift began to take place. The price of lab created diamonds dropped by about 30%. Prices have continued to decrease as new efficiencies are realized and competitive forces play out.

The best way to accurately illustrate the potential cost difference between various laboratory-diamonds and mined diamonds of similar quality, is to provide some current comparisons. I found well established and reputable retailers offering various types of round cut, 1 carat stones. Color and all other details were kept as consistent as possible too. The prices shown below reflect the loose diamond alone (no band included).

  • Mined Diamond = $8,912
  • HPHT Diamond = $2,772
  • CVD Diamond = $2,200

The HPHT diamond is 69% less expensive than a comparable mined diamond. The CVD Diamond is 75% cheaper than the mined diamond. Those are significant savings! It’s also interesting to note, that the CVD diamond is 21% cheaper than the HPHT diamond.

Keep in mind that none of these diamonds can be distinguished from each other with the naked eye. They’re chemically and visually identical in every way. A trained professional with specialized equipment would have to examine them in a lab to determine if each stone was a mined diamond, or a lab-created diamond.

In light of that, It’s no wonder that over the past few years, there’s been a major shift in demand for lab created diamonds. It’s a trend that isn’t likely to reverse anytime soon.

MVI Marketing conducted a study in 2018, which found that roughly 70 percent of Millennials would consider purchasing a lab-created diamond for their engagement ring. The results from this most recent survey, represented a 13% jump over findings from just a year earlier. The volume of Google searches for lab-grown diamonds  has also nearly tripled over the past ten years.

Some predict that the adoption trend will continue to accelerate over the next two years, and the lab-created diamond market could grow to be roughly 10 times as large as it currently is by the end of 2020. 

Common Names for Lab-Created Diamonds

These gems are known by a variety of names. Many still know them and refer to them as synthetic diamonds or simulated diamonds. They’re also referred to as a…

  • Laboratory Diamond
  • Lab Diamond
  • Cultured Diamond
  • Manufactured Diamond
  • Created Diamond
  • Cultivated Diamond
  • Above-ground Diamond
  • Man-made Diamond.

The stones can also be called HPHT diamonds or CVD diamonds based on the manufacturing method used to create the stone.

Above-Ground Diamonds Are Even Harder Than Mined Diamonds

Today’s cultured diamonds are every bit as strong and durable as those that are mined from the earth. In terms of hardness, lab produced diamonds are generally even harder than their earth-produced counterparts.

Diamonds are incredibly hard. In fact, they’re the hardest naturally occurring mineral on earth. That hardness makes them incredibly scratch resistant. Scratch resistance means that even with occasional bumps and scrapes, they can continue to look new and unscathed for generations. Today’s cultured diamonds are even harder than traditional mined stones. Since lab-grown diamonds can now surpass mined diamonds in this characteristic, they’re even less likely to be damaged through scratching than a much more expensive natural diamond.

Lab Diamonds are Getting Bigger and Better

As you would expect, you can find the full range of sizes available in lab-grown diamonds. If you’re looking for a small man-made diamond engagement ring, you can get it. If you’re looking for something much bigger (multiple carats), those also exist.

In early 2015, there was a 10.02 carat colorless diamond that was manufactured through HPHT. Near the start of 2018, a 6 carat lab grown diamond was created using CVD. It was both round, and colorless. In late 2021, IGI Graded a 14.6 carat Lab-Grown Diamond (a new record) that was also created through the CVD method. Both HPHT and CVD are continually advancing and celebrating new achievements. 

Marketers Made Me Do It

Would you feel embarrassed for others to know that you’re wearing a man-made diamond? If there’s any part of you that feels you might, then the massive amounts of money spent by the diamond industry on both subtle and overt marketing to shape public opinion have worked as planned.

They’ve spent untold millions of dollars convincing us that diamonds are a hallmark of real love. If you don’t propose with an impressive diamond, you’re either a worthless bum, or you don’t love her as much as the guy that hands her a 1 carat rock (“ahhh…true love”). It’s actually silly.

If diamonds had anything to do with the quality of a relationship, then Hollywood would be the poster child for marital bliss. They’re anything but. Diamonds don’t improve your relationship or say ANYTHING about the quality of your love.

If that’s true, then why do we spend $6,000 on average in the US buying a diamond engagement ring when there are beautiful alternatives that cost much less? Often, it’s because of social expectation that has been built through relentless marketing efforts.

Synthetic Diamonds Under Siege

The diamond industry has relentlessly attacked man made diamonds through legal actions, well funded marketing efforts, and even trying to limit their distribution options to protect their profits. They have wanted you to believe that lab created diamonds really aren’t diamonds at all. They called man made diamonds “Synthetic” in an effort to shape opinion.

In fairness, the man-made diamonds haven’t always been what they are today. The distinctions between lab-grown diamonds and mined diamonds used to be much greater. Recent technological advances have completely erased that differentiation based on appearance and quality. Today’s lab-grown diamonds are absolutely identical both visibly and chemically.

If You Can’t Beat Them, Join Them

The term “Synthetic Diamond” implies that the stones grown in labs aren’t actually diamonds…just fakes. The reality is something quite different. Despite the best efforts of lobbyists, that was made painfully clear in early 2018 when the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) updated their position on lab-created diamonds.

They essentially confirmed that man-made diamonds literally are diamonds, that are no different than those pulled out of the ground. They clarified that it would be deceptive advertising for someone to use the term “synthetic” to imply that a competitor’s diamonds weren’t real because they were lab created.

They stated that the term ‘synthetic’ isn’t applicable or appropriate for lab made diamonds since “the term is often interpreted as being ‘artificial’ when in fact man-made diamonds are not artificial.”

In the wake of the FTC announcement, “above ground” or “cultured” became acceptable terms to use (among others), as more accurate replacements for “synthetic.” Many people still call above-ground diamonds synthetic diamonds out of ignorance or habit. With time, the commonly used terms will likely naturally gravitate away from that inaccurate descriptor.

In 2018, De Beers did the unthinkable…they threw in the towel and changed their position regarding the sale of manufactured diamonds. CNN ran the headline, “De Beers admits defeat over man-made diamonds.” De Beers apparently decided on an, “If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em,” strategy, because they soon announced plans to start manufacturing the very man-made diamonds that they had been fighting against previously.

The rest of the mined diamond industry was, and still is, shocked and outraged. It was the equivalent of a striking factory worker betraying his picketing co-workers by crossing the picket line to work as a “scab”. They were supposed to be a united front. That move was egg on the face of the entire natural-diamond industry.

Lab Made Diamonds are Real Gems

The 2018 FTC release on above-ground diamonds showed that facts and terminology matter. The department of the Federal government that’s in charge of correcting false and misleading advertising practices, said that lab-grown diamonds are considered gems. That’s a fact that many had disputed.

They also clarified that man-made diamonds weren’t fake diamonds (as the diamond industry wanted you to believe). In fact, they are as real as those pulled from the earth. They’re actual gems.

Lab-Grown Diamonds are More Socially Responsible

Diamonds set on a ring are beautiful, but the hidden journey that brings the gem to market is sometimes very ugly. Vigilante groups that want to buy weapons, fund wars, challenge governments, and commit genocide have often loved the diamond industry.

They can take over a mine and force slave labor at the barrel of a gun. Those who aren’t successful in finding a reasonable amount of gems, or that refuse to work, are hurt, maimed, or killed. When these diamonds are purchased, the money raised, further arms the militants and funds attacks other tribes, groups, and governments. The extreme violence directly linked to these practices is well documented and widely known. It was because of these common practices that the term “Blood Diamond” came to be. Blood Diamonds are also frequently referred to as a “Conflict Diamond.”

Hollywood produced a film called Blood Diamond in 2006, that shined a light on the atrocities that have been made in the name of diamonds. When we purchase a shiny new diamond ring at our local jewelry store, we have absolutely no idea if the gem we’re purchasing as a symbol of our love is a Blood Diamond.

The United Nations has warned that measures put in place over the past decade or so to keep Blood Diamonds out of our supply chain have been largely ineffective. Determined organizations continually find new avenues around well-intentioned sanctions and legal red tape.

Lab-grown diamonds, and other diamond alternatives, are the solution to the issue Blood Diamonds. It’s one way that you can be absolutely certain that your joyful moment wasn’t brought to you through the pain and suffering of others in a far distant land.

Man-Made Diamonds Can Retain the Right Kind of Value

Neil Beaty, a veteran jewelry appraiser  said “Diamonds as an investment almost always fail. People don’t think of diamonds as a consumer purchase…they are.” 

Diamonds are a lot like new cars. Their value plummets the moment you buy them. You can’t turn around and resell the diamond you just bought at retail for retail prices. If you were able to get 70% of your money back at that point, you’d be lucky.

But won’t diamonds appreciate over time? Hard to say. The fact that De Beers, the company that owns most diamond mines just got into the business of lab-grown diamonds says something about the their expectation of future trends. As people continue to embrace man-made diamonds, demand for mined diamonds may really fall off. A diamond ring really should be viewed a sunk cost, not an investment.

If you’re shopping for an engagement or wedding ring, the last thing you want to consider is resale value? It’s a bad sign if that’s a focus, isn’t it? You certainly hope that you won’t need, or want, to resell your ring. A diamond engagement ring isn’t supposed to be part of your investment plan. There are far better vehicles for future growth than an expensive rock that’s publicly worn on your finger. It’s really not safe or smart when you think about it.

According to a recent study, the average engagement ring purchased in the state of California is over $10,000. If you’re considering similar rings, it means that roughly $10,000 could be taken out of circulation and parked on a hand…potentially for decades. From a financial perspective how smart is that?

The value that you want your ring to have is sentimental value. It’s the value of love and fond memories. When that ring is handed down to your children, they would never want to sell it, regardless of monetary value. That’s what makes a beautiful ring priceless.

If you buy into the big expensive diamonds = love lie, then once the jeweler slides your credit card for the hefty charge and you present the ring, you’re done. How long will marriages last if the expression of love doesn’t go well beyond the diamond? Buying a big diamond engagement ring or wedding ring is actually, very often, a selfish action.

Why selfish? Because consciously or subconsciously, they worry what others might think of them if the ring isn’t big enough and it’s driving their decisions. Buying the big ring makes them feel safe from judgement, perhaps envied, and more likely to get praise. In that context, it’s a self-serving gift.

Again, if bigger diamonds equated to depth of love, true commitment, or strength of relationship, then a greater percentage of the celebrities in Hollywood would be major marital role models. Marketers have sold us a bill of goods!

The resale value of your rings shouldn’t even be considered. If it is, I would beg to not to get married just yet. Take more time. You need certainty that the relationship is going to endure.

Hopefully when you marry well, and work hard at your marriage, you’ll have the kind of happy, loving, home life that causes your ring to be a treasured (almost sacred) keepsake that your loved ones would never think to part with at any price. The fact that a lab-grown diamond can remain beautiful for untold generations, just like a mined diamond, only ads to the charm of the keepsake. It means that the sentimental value attached to that symbol of your love can endure indefinitely.

Related Questions

Will GIA issue Certificates for HPHT and CVD Diamonds?

The Gemological Institute of America (GIA) will grade, and issue certificates for, HPHT diamonds. At this time, they they aren’t grading or offering certificates on any CVD diamonds.

What are the Best Lab Created Diamonds?

Diamonds created through the HPHT method are most common. It’s the process that’s used to produce the largest diamonds right now. It’s also a method that’s used most often for adding color to man made or mined diamonds. The CVD method requires far less energy, so they’re less expensive to produce and purchase. Both types of lab-grown diamonds have the same chemical composition, durability, and optical qualities as mined diamonds.

I light of all that, there isn’t one method that has a strong and obvious lead over the other. Since CVD diamonds are least expensive, they might be the best opportunity in lab grown diamonds, but you’ll find a much stronger selection of available generated diamonds when you by an HPHT.

Are Colored Diamonds Man Made?

Colored diamonds are lab created much of the time, but not always. Many mined diamonds have a yellow or brown tint. Lab grown come out in a range of colors too. When a mined diamond needs to go from yellow-ish to blue, for example, an HPHT process is often used to make that transition.

Related Posts:

The Cost of Lab Grown Diamonds vs Natural Diamonds

The ‘Cons’ of Lab Grown Diamonds: The 7 BIG Lies We’re Told

6 Ways You Can Tell a Lab Grown Diamond From a Natural One