Discount Applied!

Diamond vs. Cubic Zirconia: What’s the Difference?

Table of Contents

  • What is Cubic Zirconia?
  • Diamonds vs. Cubic Zirconia: A Quick and Easy Primer
  • Find Your Perfect Stone With Diamond Nexus™ 

Lab diamonds and gemstone diamond alternatives have gained popularity. Cubic zirconia stones, in particular, can be used as an alternative and often mistaken for a diamond. To the uninitiated eye, diamonds and cubic zirconia may look nearly identical. But in reality, they couldn’t be more different. One is created over thousands of years nearly one hundred miles beneath the surface of the earth. The other is handcrafted in a lab. 

But their formation isn’t the only difference that sets the two apart. Weight, clarity, price and other factors make the diamond vs. cubic zirconia match-up an interesting one to contemplate—especially if you’re in the market for an engagement ring or an eye-catching piece of jewelry.

Before you bedazzle yourself from head to toe, let’s take a closer look at what cubic zirconia is, how it stacks up against diamonds, and how you can choose between these two gorgeous stones.

What is Cubic Zirconia?

Before diving into cubic zirconia vs diamond, what is cubic zirconia exactly? Cubic zirconia is an inexpensive mined diamond alternative that looks almost entirely like the real thing—but can be procured at a fraction of the price. It contains a crystal cubic structure, is colorless and refracts light and different colors, just like diamonds.

Cubic zirconia is a synthetic stone, which means it’s manufactured in labs. First mass-produced in the 1970s, it’s been a popular entry-level option for people looking for the sparkly diamond aesthetic without the hefty price tag. 

When it comes to the actual differences between this stone and its more opulent cousin, there are a number of distinctions you ought to consider if you’re trying to work out which stone to purchase. Let’s look at some of the key contrasts below.

Diamonds vs. Cubic Zirconia: A Quick and Easy Primer

If what you’re trying to achieve is the general look and feel of a diamond, cubic zirconia is a wonderful place to start. Lab grown diamond, diamond simulant, moissanite, and cubic zirconia stones are just a few options when looking for a mined diamond alternative. But what sets cubic zirconia apart from diamond? When it comes to diamonds vs cubic zirconia at a granular level, they really are quite different. 

Here are some of the most important factors that set them apart:

  • Weight – When comparing stones of equivalent size, cubic zirconia stone is actually quite a bit heavier than a diamond. This is because the former is almost twice as dense as the latter. If you’re going for a pair of earrings or a ring, chances are, your lobes and fingers will likely notice the added mass.
  • Clarity – Nearly all diamonds contain imperfections known as inclusions and blemishes that may or may not be identifiable to the naked eye. These result from centuries of pressure during formation, and for some, they’re what make a diamond a diamond. In contrast, lab-made cubic zirconia usually doesn’t contain any “flaws.” 
  • Durability – Sitting at a 10 on the Mohs Hardness Scale, diamonds are powerfully scratch-resistant and won’t chip or crack, even under duress. Cubic zirconia comes in between 8 and 8.5 on the Mohs Scale. In other words, its softer composition makes it less impervious to wear and tear over time.
  • Longevity – There’s actual truth to the phrase “diamonds are forever.” Cubic zirconia stone is known to yellow over time or even turn cloudy. Similar to diamonds, this stone has its own grading system that takes into account cut, clarity, carat and color. Higher grade pieces may last longer, but don’t expect to be able to resell this jewelry at the same price you bought it.
  • Price – If you’re on the fence about which stone to choose, this may be the factor that pushes you to the side of the manmade alternative option. While diamonds can range upwards of $5000 per carat, a carat of cubic zirconia can be netted for as low as $30. If you want to impress without breaking the bank, this wildly affordable stone may be your best bet.

While there are other differences, these are some of the most important considerations for those trying to choose between cubic zirconia vs diamond.  If you’re looking for more like alternatives, you can also compare white sapphire vs cubic zirconia or other simulated diamond and gemstone alternatives to find the right one for you.

Remember, the exact stone you end up with is an extremely personal decision. Whether you’re attracted to a more affordable price tag or prefer to invest in stone that’ll last for decades to come, opt for whatever fits your personal priorities and tastes. 

Find Your Perfect Stone With Diamond Nexus™ 

At Diamond Nexus we believe everyone deserves to find a unique piece (or pieces) of jewelry that’s right for them. That’s why we offer a broad selection of rings, necklaces, earrings and more at prices that leave you with more room in your budget. 

We also believe you should be able to buy jewelry with peace of mind, knowing that it’s up to a high standard. In our Milwaukee, Wisconsin workshop, all of our pieces go through a rigorous inspection process. They also all go out the door with our Everything’s Covered Plan for a full year of repairs, cleaning, polishing and inspections—including shipping both ways.

For those looking for the aesthetic and feel of a diamond without bearing the weight of ethical concerns or steep prices, look to our Diamond Nexus™ Alternative for a guaranteed gorgeous stone that’ll last for generations. Visit our shop today to see what’s in stock or chat with a knowledgeable representative to get started.


National Park Service. Mohs Hardness Scale. 

The Spruce. All About Cubic Zirconia. 

Gem Society. Cubic Zirconia Vs. Diamonds. 

Contact Us

Two affordable Diamond Nexus engagement rings

Win a $2,500
Shopping Spree!

Enter our monthly contest for a chance to win a Diamond Nexus shopping spree.

Enter to Win

A $2,500 Diamond Nexus Shopping spree.

By submitting this form with a phone number, you agree to receive recurring automated promotional and personalized marketing text messages (e.g. cart reminders) from Diamond Nexus at the cell number used when signing up. Consent is not a condition of any purchase. Reply HELP for help and STOP to cancel. Msg frequency varies. Msg & data rates may apply. View Terms, Privacy & Giveaway Terms
Chat With Us