We’ve all heard the phrase “Diamonds are a girl’s best friend”. It’s been almost 70 years since Marilyn Monroe’s iconic performance that popularized the quote and it is still regularly used in movies, music, and books. Associated with glamour and romance, the diamond has been placed to be associated with pleasant concepts - marriage, high social status, wealth, highlife. But at what cost?
(Source: MARILYN MONROE GENTLEMEN PREFER BLONDES (1953) Contributor: AF archive / Alamy Stock Photo)
Many people probably don’t know the bloody story of diamonds and others may be choosing to ignore it, but a change is way overdue. We implore you to learn about the diamond trade and the havoc it wreaks in diamond producing countries. The death, torture, and civil wars that it causes in numerous African countries, such as Zimbabwe, Angola, Central African Republic, and Côte D’Ivoire, cannot be a justified price to pay for shiny new jewelry. “Blood diamonds” is a phrase that exists for a reason and the dark side of this trade should not be ignored.
But wait, this article is about Cubic Zirconia, why are we talking about diamonds? Let us explain. Firstly, let’s define the terminology we need for this context:
Natural diamonds - Natural diamonds are the type we covered in the first two paragraphs. Formed by nature, the process takes between 1 and 3 billion years to complete. They are then mined, processed, and cut into the shapes familiar to you.
Synthetic diamonds - Synthetic diamonds are chemically the same as mined diamonds, except they are lab-made. A helpful analogy often introduced is natural ice formed in nature vs. ice in your freezer. Identical chemical structures, different processes.
(Source: Man-made Diamonds: Questions and Answers Contributor: GIA)
Diamond simulants - Diamond simulants, also called alternatives, are not technically diamonds. Their gemological characteristics are specifically made to be similar and to retain the desired qualities of a real diamond, such as hardness and light dispersion. Diamond simulants could be both artificial and natural. And this is where Cubic Zirconia comes in, as the most popular diamond simulant due to its durability and visual likeness.
Cubic Zirconia vs. Diamond
Cubic Zirconia (CZ) is the cubic crystalline form of zirconium dioxide. It took nearly a century to perfect the technique but after a breakthrough publication in 1973, the commercial production began only 3 years later in 1976. Since then, it’s production and use have only been increasing, making the synthetic cubic zirconia the number one choice for a diamond alternative.
To an untrained naked eye, CZ and diamonds might be indistinguishable, especially when it comes to looks and light dispersion. While CZ is heavier than diamonds, they vary in hardness. The Mohs scale is an ordinal scale that indicates the scratch resistance of minerals through their ability to scratch softer material. On that scale, diamonds are the hardest known material, rated 10 out of 10. CZ come very close though, with a score 8-8.5. Considering the price difference between the two, and the fact that CZ can be transformed into the same cuts and shapes, the appeal of cubic zirconia is quite evident.
There exists different quality grades that most retailers are not transparent about. The grade is usually made known during a wholesale purchase. The system has 5 grades - A (lowest grade) to AAAAA (highest grade). The stones used in our jewelry are exclusively 4A and 4.5A, with 5A stones planned to be available for custom jewelry orders.
All in all, there is time and place for all types of diamonds. We just hope that our clients are informed during purchase and not distracted by marketing techniques that make dubious claims. The choice of stones for our jewelry has many reasons but most importantly of all, we refuse to participate in a trade as controversial and painful as the diamond industry. Also, our goal is to make good quality jewelry affordable to as many people as possible and mined diamonds are not price efficient.
Stay tuned for more articles on how to care for, maintain and store your vPink pieces.