Zircon and cubic zirconia couldn’t be more different in terms of properties, value and, of course, occurrence. A Cubic Zirconia is synthetic compared to Zircon which is a natural gem. The CZ is used in laboratories to produce jewelry that can be an alternative to a diamond.
Zircon is an important gemstone of many colors, and is a historical gemstone used for thousands of years. It is sometimes looked upon as a cheap Diamond simulant, but in actuality, it can be a valuable gem. Zircon is a popular gemstone that has been used for nearly 2000 years. Today it serves as a modern birthstone for the month of December. When properly cut, colorless zircons can make very convincing diamond imitations and even outshine mediocre diamonds.
Zircon is a zirconium silicate mineral with a chemical composition of ZrSiO4. It is common throughout the world as a minor constituent of igneous, metamorphic, and sedimentary rocks. Zircon occurs in a wide range of colors and has a brightness and fire that rivals those of diamond. Colorless zircon is known for its brilliance and flashes of multicolored light, called fire. These zircon properties are close enough to the properties of diamond to account for centuries of confusion between the two gems.
Cubic Zirconia was found in the 1930s making it relatively new in the world of minerals when compared to the Zircon. It is one of the most popular alternatives to a diamond. For the chemical is zirconium oxide and is often used as a synthetic diamond. The physical properties are similar to those of a diamond, so that it is difficult to distinguish with the naked eye. This lab created gemstone is eye-clean, colorless and measures 8.5 on the Mohs scale of hardness. No wonder they are such a popular diamond alternative in the modern jewelry market.
CZ stones are available in a variety of colors and possess sparkling intensity. A chunk of cubic zirconia is heavier than a diamond of the same size, but not as hard. CZ is rated at 8.5 on the Mohs scale, versus diamond (the hardest substance) at 10 and corundum (sapphire and ruby) at 9. Cubic zirconia can be transformed into the same popular cuts and shapes that are used for diamonds and colored gemstones.
So, while zircon and synthetic cubic zirconia may appear to be the same stone and have similar, oft-confused names, they are vastly different stones. The most important difference to remember is that zircon is a naturally occurring mineral while CZ, even though it has been found in nature before, is a lab-created gemstone.