Cubic zirconia is a beautiful bright white or colored gemstone that looks like a diamond.
Because of its striking resemblance, cubic zirconia—CZ for short—is often used instead of a diamond in engagement rings.
But if you have a CZ ring or are looking to buy one, you might wonder what the cubic zirconia meaning is. Today, we’ll look at the history, meaning, and significance of this important gem.
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Cubic zirconia history and production
Cubic zirconia is made from a naturally occurring mineral called zirconium oxide. The substance was found in the 1800s, but nobody saw any value in the discovery at the time.
It wasn’t until the 1930s that scientists learned they could melt zirconium oxide powder and create cube-shaped minerals—but once again, the discovery was buried as a footnote in the science books.
Cubic zirconia resurfaced in the 1960s as scientists researched cheaper methods to create brilliant crystals for lasers and other technology.
Scientists realized that the crystal closely resembled a diamond and began researching how to grow beautiful synthetic gems for fashion jewelry.
The most effective method was invented by an unlikely source—the Swarovski company, known for its unique Swarovski crystal. This technique helped CZ explode onto the scene in the 1970s.
Today, scientists create cubic zirconia by heating zirconium oxide to almost 5,000° F (2,700° C), at which point crystals start to form.
Despite the similar-sounding names, cubic zirconia is different from gemstone zircon. And while terms like “cubic zircon” or “cubic zirconium” are common, both are incorrect.
Cubic zirconia is also different from a lab-created diamond manufactured using carbon like a mined diamond.
Cubic zirconia meaning for personality and emotions
While the cubic zirconia gemstone is a relatively new discovery, it has been found naturally formed in lunar and meteoric rocks. This connection with space and its extreme rarity on earth makes it a unique stone to many people.
Cubic zirconia also has important meanings and holds significance in a few belief systems.
Because cubic zirconia is such a clear and bright gem—even more so than a natural diamond—it is often associated with clarity.
Some believe wearing cubic zirconia jewelry can help improve your mental focus and bring insight into issues that are clouding your thoughts. It’s also said to help release your ego.
Perhaps because humans create it in such a scientific way, CZ is also considered a practical stone. Some claim that cubic zirconia can help bring a sense of calm to your life and be used in grounding.
Cubic zirconia birthstone, zodiac, and chakra associations
Because cubic zirconia jewelry is usually meant as a synthetic gemstone to replace diamond, CZ has many of the same associations as this precious gem.
Cubic zirconia can be used as an alternative birthstone for April. While April is traditionally associated with diamonds, some people have chosen to use cubic zirconia instead as a more affordable, ethical, and environmentally-friendly choice.
In the zodiac system, both Aries (March 21st to April 19th) and Taurus (April 20th to May 20th) include diamonds as a possible birthstone. Cubic zirconia is an appropriate alternative stone for those astrological signs.
Cubic zirconia is also directly associated with three chakras and indirectly associated with all of them. The clear and bright light that cubic zirconia reflects has associated the stone with the third eye chakra.
And due to its connection with scientific minds, CZ is also associated with the crown chakra for higher knowledge. And its supposed effect against the ego relates it to the solar plexus chakra.
Because cubic zirconia can be manufactured in almost every color, it can be associated with any other chakra through its color.
Cubic zirconia vs. diamond
CZ is one of the most popular diamond alternatives on the market. In contrast to natural gems that must be mined from the earth, synthetic cubic zirconia can be produced in a lab. This process makes it cheaper and more environmentally friendly than a genuine diamond.
A cubic zirconia stone looks like a diamond to the naked eye, but there are some key differences.
Diamonds are more durable. A diamond is the hardest substance known, scoring a perfect 10 on the Mohs hardness scale. Cubic zirconia comes in at a more modest 8 to 8.5.
Diamonds last longer. Diamonds are over a billion years in the making, and they retain their color forever. Over the years, CZ will grow cloudy and less bright.
Diamonds are worth more. Cubic zirconia is cheap but has almost no resale value. Diamonds hold their value more—you can usually sell a diamond for 50% of what you paid for it.
Cubic zirconia reflects more. The technical term for this is “dispersion” or “fire.” A CZ stone reflects much more light than a diamond. It also reflects rainbow light like a prism, while diamond only reflects white light.
Cubic zirconia weighs more. CZ weighs 1.7 times more than a diamond. This difference makes it challenging to compare the two stones’ carat weight since a one-carat diamond will be much larger than a one-carat cubic zirconia stone.
Cubic zirconia has fewer flaws. Nearly all natural diamonds have tiny dark specks—called inclusions—inside the stone. Cubic zirconia, however, has few or zero inclusions, making a standard CZ stone as clear as a flawless diamond.
What does cubic zirconia mean to you?
Whether you’re looking at CZ jewelry as a backup piece for a real diamond engagement ring or an ethical choice to help our planet, cubic zirconia can have a special significance for you.
While it is manufactured in laboratories instead of mined from the earth, cubic zirconia is one of the most beautiful gemstones, and it’s no wonder it’s a common diamond alternative.