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Cubic Zirconia History

Cubic Zirconia History

This natural mineral was first discovered in the 19’th century. However the cubic zirconia as we know it as a gemstone doesn’t begin until many years later, during the 1970’s.

Stainless Steel Hex Nut Ring
Stainless Hex Nut Ring With Cubic Zirconia.

Natural Form of Zirconium Oxide

The natural form of cubic zirconia is zirconium oxide, which in itself is a bit yellowish in appearance. It was first discovered in 1892, but the mineral wasn’t considered to be of any value. It wasn’t until sometime in the early 1930s, that interest in the mineral really begun as scientists conducted experiments. During one of these experiments it was found that the mineral didn’t lose its strength when subjected to high heat, making it a refractory material. This was an important discovery and allowed inventors to use zirconium oxide in various applications, such as abrasives for ceramics, metal, and glass. Such as zirconia sanding belts.

 

Zirconia Sanding Belt
Zirconia Sanding Belt




History of The Cubic Zirconia Gemstone

In 1937, two German mineralogists had made a very important discovery in the history of Cubic Zirconia. They have found that melted zirconium oxide contained tiny crystals. This was not understood as being useful at the time, since those same properties existed in the mineral’s natural state as well. So they ignored their find.  The ones making scientific discoveries have always had the honor of naming the object or process as they choose fit. In this case though, the cubic zirconia retained its scientific name. It continued to considered useless.

Searching for Industrial Materials

During the 1960s, less expensive material was being sought out to be used other industrial applications, and the creation of simulated diamonds had begun. As a result the single crystal cubic zirconia was then rediscovered.

Cubic Zirconia Takes Its Place

In 1977, Russian scientists discovered how to actually grow these zirconia crystals using a synthetic process. It was originally marketed under the trade name of “Djevalite”. They were then marketed as simulated diamonds.

Cubic Zirconia Has Advanced

The appearance of these gems are continuously being improved to resemble real diamonds.  They are now finished with two different types of compounds. One is known as DLC, or diamond-like carbon, and another coating known as amorphous diamond. Both of these coatings are claimed to reinforce the hardness and enhance its luster. While these lab produced gems look very close to the real McCoy, two major things prevent it. It has more fire than a diamond, and it also has a lower refractive index. The coatings seem to help with this, but they will never pass as true diamonds to a trained eye.

Another fun advancement in the cubic zirconia technology is of course the addition of color.

Fun Facts

  • The weight of a Cubic Zirconia Gemstone is about 75 percent more than that of a diamond.
  • You might expect The lab produced faux diamond to be as hard as a real diamond. But In reality, they are much softer and more brittle.
  • Unlike diamonds that have inclusions or imperfections, cubic zirconia is flawless.
  • CZ is much cheaper to purchase and makes a wonderful and fun substitute.

 

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