Cubic Zirconia Hardness, Scale, Durability, and Care

Cubic zirconia (CZ), popularly known for its resemblance with natural diamond, is very hard and durable. It was initially found in nature, but most of the CZs in circulation nowadays are man-made, colorless, and flawless, making them a favored substitute for diamond.

While diamond is natural, cubic zirconia jewelry is formed by melting zirconium and zirconium oxide together with other minerals, then heating the mixture to almost a temperature of 5000⁰F. Even though most CZs are clear or white, they can be customized in different colors.

Going forward, let’s explore the hardness of cubic zirconia, as well as how to maintain its beauty.

What is the Hardness of Cubic Zirconia?

Cubic zirconia is made from the composition of different materials like zirconium oxide, calcium, and magnesium. The gemstone is produced to have equal sides and angles, resulting in a symmetrical and uniform composition of atoms.

The atoms form a specific pattern called the “zincblende structure.” These atoms are closely packed, maximizing efficiency and maintaining symmetry. This compact design contributes to the overall hardness and durability of cubic zirconia.

With its stability and robust structure, cubic zirconia can be worn as everyday jewelry, as it can withstand the test of time.

Cubic Zirconia Grading Scale & Mohs Hardness

Cubic zirconia is graded based on quality, using these indicators: 5A, 4A, 3A, 2A, and AB (1A). The gemstone is also valued based on Mohs hardness, as the grade level ranks between 8 – 8.5 scale. The higher the hardness, the more durable and long-lasting the gemstone.

CZ GradeAB (1A)AA (2A)AAA (3A)AAAA (4A)AAAAA (5A)
DescriptionCloudy & SoftFair Clarity & StrongMid-Clarity & HardAverage Clarity & HardVery Clear & Hard
  • AB (1A): Usually cloudy and soft, offering the lowest quality. However, it’s commonly used by artisans to create a sparkle effect.
  • 2A: Exudes low quality with average clarity, but stronger and shines brighter than AB (1A).
  • 3A: Creates a balance between quality and affordability. Manufacturers often produce cubic zirconia jewelry to be 3A.
  • 4A: Comprises blemished 5A cubic zirconia sorted after production. Comes with an impressive clarity and average strength.
  • 5A: Highest grade of cubic zirconia. It’s usually clear and hard, serving as the perfect alternative to natural diamonds.

Is Cubic Zirconia as Hard as Diamond?

No gemstone is as hard as diamond. However, while diamonds have a durability Mohs scale of 10, cubic zirconia comes close with an 8.5 rating. The disparity between these two similar yet different stones can be attributed to their chemical composition.

Diamond is formed by arranging carbon atoms in a crystal lattice structure, which makes it exceptionally strong. Cubic zirconia, on the other hand, is composed of zirconium dioxide, making it strong but a little below diamond.

Because of this, diamonds are superior in resisting scratches and blemishes. This is not to write off cubic zirconia, because while it’s more susceptible to scratch and blemish, it can maintain its brilliance if properly maintained.

Other differences that cannot be avoided when comparing these two incredible gemstones are:

  • Beauty and Fire: Diamonds possess a better refractive index, causing them to shine superior and absorb more light reflection. On the other hand, cubic zirconia possesses a lesser refractive index; although it still sparkles.
  • Clarity: Diamonds are natural gemstones, hence tend to have visible flaws or inclusions because of the processes involved in extracting them. Cubic zirconia, on the other hand, is very clear because it’s man-made and carefully designed to shine brighter.
  • Weight: Typically, diamonds and cubic zirconia of the same size don’t have the same weight. Diamonds are generally heavier and harder. So, while you may have a diamond-simulant and an original diamond of the same size, note that the former might be a cubic zirconia.

Does Cubic Zirconia Break Easily?

Only a few gemstones, such as moissanite jewelry can be likened to have strength as cubic zirconia, which gets its impressive hardness and durability from the robust structure of salt components. This makes it able to withstand extreme conditions.

While cubic zirconia doesn’t break easily, each grade has a diverse resistance. 5A cubic zirconia ranks 8.5 on the Mohs scale of hardness, meaning that it has more resistance level than 1A cubic zirconia that’s ranked 8 on the Mohs scale.

What is 6A Cubic Zirconia?

Generally, there are 5 levels of cubic zirconia, but some manufacturers of custom jewelry grade their man-made gemstones 6A because of the extra production processes undergone. These include expert clarity, color, cut, and specific standards followed to satisfy customers’ taste.

What is 7A Cubic Zirconia?

Just like 6A grade level, 7A cubic zirconia is a proprietary grading system used by manufacturers to denote the quality and uniqueness of their products. It involves custom designs that are configured to satisfy customers’ taste.

How to Care for Cubic Zirconia Jewelry

Taking care of your cubic zirconia jewelry is very simple. Knowing the steps involved will help you maintain the luster and brilliance of the jewelry, as well as ensure that it lasts long.

Here are the steps to take in caring for your cubic zirconia jewelry:

  • First off, as much as cubic zirconia looks like diamond, don’t apply the same cleaning methods because diamond is stronger and can withstand more abrasion. Therefore, careful cleaning of your cubic zirconia jewelry with mild agents is advisable.
  • Get a soft brush. A perfect example is a baby’s toothbrush, as it’s softer than other brushes.
  • Deep the toothbrush into a mixture of mild soap and water.
  • Gently scrub your cubic zirconia jewelry until the stains and dirt are completely removed.
  • Rinse your jewelry in clean, warm water. Ensure that no soap or dirt particle remains.
  • Clean it to dry with a soft, clean towel. Don’t rub the jewelry aggressively. A gentle pat all over will do.

Key Takeaway

Understanding the distinct characteristics of cubic zirconia will help you know that while it’s different from natural diamonds, it is incredibly strong. Also, cubic zirconia comes in different grades, Mohs hardness level, and appearance.
Do you wish to know more about the beauty of cubic zirconia or would like to customize it to your preference, contact us for the best services.

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