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Diamond or zirconia?

 To have diamond or zirconia implanted in a wedding or an engagement ring? Is there any difference in quality? And what are the advantages of diamond since it is more expensive than zirconia?

Such questions are frequent by customers. To provide a satisfactory answer first let me explain the features of diamond and zirconia.

What is zirconia?

Cubic zirconia - chemically it is zirconium dioxide ZrO2. It is synthetically (artificially) produced mineral, which is implanted in jewellery for its similarity to diamond. Its hardness is 8.5 on Mohs scale and refractive index from 1.93 to 1.98

What is diamond?

Diamond - chemically it is crystalline carbon C. Unlike zirconia it is a natural mineral that is extracted by mining. Its hardness is 10 on Mohs scale and refractive index of 2.42.
I am not going to present here the classification of diamonds in jewellery. All necessary information can be found on this link


What is then the practical difference between jewellery implanted with diamonds and stones of zirconia?

As mentioned above diamond has a higher refractive index than zirconia. The index determines the propagation of light as it passes through the stone. Practically, this means that diamond glitters more in a jewel than zirconia – it is of more beautiful iridescence and fire than zirconia. When one small stone of diamond of about 0.020 ct (diameter of cca 1.70 mm) is embedded in a wedding ring you would not sign any difference from zirconia stone at the first sight. But if several small diamonds are grouped together, e.g. 5 pieces in a row, the effect is clearly visible.

Diamonds generally glitter much brighter than zirconia. This effect of iridescence grows with the growing number of diamonds in a jewel. When a diamond stone is implanted in an engagement ring, usually one stone of a larger size, it holds true that its glitter, iridescence and fire grows equally with its size. Therefore an appearance of zirconia stones can be hardly compared with diamond stones of a large size.

Above all, diamond surpasses zirconia in its hardness. The figure of about 1.5 by which diamond is harder than zirconia on the Mohs scale is really significant. In practice this means that a zirconia stone worn in a jewel 'scuffs' within some time when it comes in contact with any harder subjects and finally loses its original glitter. Diamond is the hardest mineral on the Earth. When worn in a jewel its surface does not interfere with any surrounding objects since they are softer than diamond. That is why a diamond ring inherited from a grandmother will glitter still as beautifully as ever.

I would mention one more preference for diamond to zirconia and that is its greater strength. Gemstones are not only hard but also relatively fragile. When severely impacted they can break. Diamond is in this respect certainly stronger than zirconia.

When choosing between zirconia and diamond apart from the price, the durability of the jewel also plays its role. Everything we use gets worn out in time and this also goes for any jewellery, for wedding rings and engagement rings in double means.

The advantage of gold is that its surface can be restored after some time of wearing so that it looks as good as new. Once they have lost their glitter it is impossible to adjust small zirconia stones into their original look. Therefore speaking about jewellery which we expect to be life-lasting possession like engagement and wedding rings the choice of diamond is definitely a matter of consideration.