|Better a diamond with a flaw than a pebble without. - Chinese Proverb|
Cubic Zirconia Diamonds and Moissanite Diamonds
Most commonly known as a replacement for diamonds, cubic zirconia (CZ) has been the primary substitute since the 1970's. To the untrained eye, the synthetic, usually colorless, cubic zirconia looks just like a flawless diamond. Such a natural diamond would be extremely expensive, however, cubic zirconium allows everyone to afford the beautifully look of diamond jewelry.
CZ's are heavier than diamonds. Given two stones of the same size, the cubic zirconia will weigh about 1.6 times more than the diamond because the material they are made of is more dense. Cubic zirconia is less hard than diamonds, scoring an 8.3 on the Mohs' scale (compared to diamond's 10). As a final point and perhaps most interestingly, cubic zirconia is an excellent thermal insulator while, on the other hand, diamond is a strong thermal conductor.
In the late 1990s Moissanite came on the market. It brings up different opinions depending on who you ask. It's different from diamond and it's different from Cubic Zirconia. The composition of Moissanite is silicon carbide creating a near colorless, usually slightly green or grayish stone. The production of Moissanite is a proprietary process and it is available only from C3 Inc, a division of Cree Research.
Moissanite is only available from one source and because of its relatively extensive manufacturing process, it tends to be rather expensive. A high-quality Moissanite stone can run in the region of $525 per carat.
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