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Cubic zirconia is an affordable alternative to traditional diamond or gemstone engagement rings. The sparkle and shine of a cubic zirconia stone mimic that of a diamond, and to the untrained eye, it looks incredibly similar. These qualities make cubic zirconia a popular choice for couples who are on a budget but love the classic look of a colorless, dazzling diamond.
What Is Cubic Zirconia?
Cubic zirconia is the cubic crystalline form of zirconium dioxide—a synthetic, colorless gemstone. Unlike diamonds, which are naturally occurring gemstones, cubic zirconia is lab-created and made by melting zirconium oxide powder with stabilizers like magnesium and calcium.
"Cubic zirconia allows you to choose high-quality and low-cost materials that have the capabilities of mimicking the appearance of real diamond jewelry at a fraction of a cost,” says Nidhi Dangayach, founder of Verlas. "If you're looking for everlasting brilliance in the stone, a high-quality cubic zirconia can mimic the look of a diamond beautifully and even sparkle like one."
Meet the Expert
Nidhi Dangayach founded the direct-to-consumer jewelry brand Verlas alongside Nityani Riziya in 2019. Before starting Verlas, she worked with one of the top three diamond jewelry manufacturers in the world as a marketer and helped launch two brands in brick-and-mortar stores.
If you’re curious about the differences between cubic zirconia and diamonds, what metals pair best with cubic zirconia, and if this gemstone is the right choice for your engagement ring, we’re here to help. Learn everything you should know about cubic zirconia engagement rings below.
Pros and Cons of Cubic Zirconia Engagement Rings
The most appealing quality of cubic zirconia engagement rings is the price, as well as their striking similarity to the look of a real diamond. However, in Dangayach's opinion, there are a few crucial differences.
"It's important to know that the surface of cubic zirconia is easy to scratch, unlike a diamond that can only be scratched by another diamond!" says Dangayach. "Accrual of surface scratches on cubic zirconia will eventually cause it to lose its sparkle."
Because cubic zirconia looks similar to a diamond, this allows brides to get a bigger stone without the hefty price tag. However, Dangayach cautions going too big if you want to maintain the illusion. "A trained eye can easily tell the difference between the sparkle of a cubic zirconia and a diamond," she says. "There's a difference in how light passes through both stones, reflects from their surface, and disperses: cubic zirconias almost create a rainbow effect. "
What to Look for in Cubic Zirconia Engagement Rings
Here are a few questions and answers you should know before purchasing a cubic zirconia ring.
- Is cubic zirconia good for an engagement ring? If you love the look of a diamond but are on a tight budget, cubic zirconia is a cost-effective option.
- Which is better: moissanite or cubic zirconia? Moissanite is a more durable mineral, but it’s also more expensive and sold at a lower clarity than cubic zirconia. Plus, moissanite is a colored stone, while cubic zirconia is colorless, which allows it to be mistaken for a diamond. If you prefer looks over longevity, go with cubic zirconia.
- What stones, cuts, settings, and materials pair best with cubic zirconia? The benefit of a cubic zirconia engagement ring is the affordability, so pairing it with other lower cost but durable metals like sterling silver or stainless steel can help keep costs down.
- How can I tell if a cubic zirconia ring is high quality? It will be a colorless stone with no hints of color or any imperfections like a diamond might have. It will also be very sparkly, creating rainbow flashes in its light return. It won’t be chipped, scratched, or damaged.
- How much do cubic zirconia rings cost? You can find a great quality, beautiful cubic zirconia engagement ring for under $100.
How to Care for a Cubic Zirconia Engagement Ring
While they might look eerily similar, cubic zirconia is not a diamond. Diamonds are regarded to be the hardest known material in the world, making them incredibly durable and averse to any damage, which leads to a lifelong investment.
Cubic zirconia is rated 8-8.5 on the Mohs hardness scale, while diamonds are rated 10. Because cubic zirconia is a softer stone, it needs to be handled with even more care if you want to prevent scratches to the facets of the stone face.
Avoid any exposure to water, chemicals, and perfumes when it comes to your cubic zirconia jewelry. These liquids could seep into the stone and setting and lead to damage, deterioration, and/or cloudiness.
Scroll through to see all of our favorite cubic zirconia engagement rings.
Mystique of Palm Beach Asscher Cubic Zirconia Classic Solitaire Engagement Ring
For something simple yet stunning, check out this cubic zirconia asscher version of the classic style solitaire ring. Available in 14K white gold, 14K yellow gold, or 14K rose gold, you can customize this traditional ring to fit your own personal style.
Diamonique x Amy Stran Clear Cushion-Cut Ring
This unique and modern engagement ring features a cushion-cut, prong-set, clear cubic zirconia stone at the center and trillion-cut CZ's on either side. The simple band made from platinum-clad sterling silver allows you to have all the wonderful shine and durability of platinum without the price tag.
AINUOSHI Cushion-Cut Halo Solitaire Cubic Zirconia Engagement Ring
If you're looking for a traditional cushion cut halo without the hefty price tag, look no further than this AINUOSHI engagement ring. This sterling silver rhodium-plated engagement ring is a real showstopper, featuring a 6-carat main stone.