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Cubic zirconia vs white sapphire is a common comparison when looking for a diamond alternative.
While these diamond simulants can both be found in nature, they are very rare.
Thus, when shopping for a ring, practically all CZ and white sapphire orned pieces you see are created in the lab.
For those who want the quick answer:
- Cubic zirconia is a hard colorless gemstone which may get cloudy with time. It has a higher refraction index than white sapphire with a dispersion even higher diamond’s.
- Sapphire is a rare, precious gemstone which is harder than CZ. It will keep its brilliant look unlike CZ.
What is cubic zirconia?
Cubic zirconia is made of zirconium oxide crystals.
This colorless crystalline material is a popular diamond simulant.
Although found in nature, it is a rare gemstone.
Thankfully, we are able to produce CZ stones in the lab.
Today, practically for all jewelry with CZ; man-made stones are used.
This brings one important benefit: clearly defined and managed processes.
As its production is controlled, we can add different elements to change its color as desired.
So, we are able to produce CZ stones of all colors at different shapSes and sizes.
Please note that CZ is different than zircon, which is another colorless alternative stone to white diamond.
What is white sapphire?
Sapphire belongs to the precious stones group with diamond, emerald and ruby.
And yes, all sapphires are not blue: there are also white ones.
There are even black sapphires.
White sapphires are nearly inclusion-free minerals, which are rarely found.
Fortunately, it is possible to take sapphires with different tints and treat them with heat to remove noticeable colors.
Moreover, scientists have achieved to produce these colorless sapphires in the lab.
Before finding place on a jewelry, almost all sapphires on the market, have passed through the lab in a way or another.
White sapphire is less dense
White sapphire’s density is nearly 30% less than CZ’s density.
So, a same volume of cubic zirconia will weight about 50% more than the white sapphire stone.
This may have little significance for small jewelry pieces.
However, when the stones’ size and amount increases, it may add up.
White sapphire is harder than cubic zirconia
WS has a hardness rating of 9 to cubic zirconia’s 8.5 on the Mohs Scale.
This means white sapphire is less likely to get scratched and is more durable.
Nevertheless, you should avoid carrying your jewelry in rough environments like outdoor or during house work.
The last but not the least, a best practice to store and organize jewelry is to keep them in separate soft pouches or zip bags.
By this way, you can avoid scratches and also contact with air and humidity.
Cubic zirconia is more brilliant
These are both transparent stones.
White sapphire has a refractive index of 1.77.
Cubic Zirconia’s index is higher at about 2.15.
In this respect, CZ will exhibit more brilliance and sparkle than WS stones.
The Verdict: Cubic Zirconia or White Sapphire?
Diamonds may be forever, but their prices may seem heading for sky high.
Happily, there are diamond simulants or fake diamonds if you will that can save the day.
Cubic zirconia and white sapphire are popular alternatives in this regard.
Other notable alternatives are white topaz, swarovski, moissanite and white zircon.
While diamonds top the Mohs scale of mineral hardness with a 10 rating, CZ and white sapphire are definitely two of the hardest materials we have.
They have 8-8.5 and 9 ratings respectively.
For the same carat size, cubic zirconia is about 50% heavier than WS.
Their optical properties are comparable to diamonds.
Cubic zirconia has a dispersion even higher than natural diamonds.
There is two points where white sapphire takes the clear lead: it is a precious gemstone, and it does not get cloudy.
There are only 4 precious gems: diamonds, emeralds, rubies and sapphires.
Cubic zirconia is not in this league.
And it may get cloudy over time, which might give a dull look.
Of course, this comes with a lower price tag than white sapphire according to carat, cut, color and clarity.