Professional Jeweler Archive: Diamond Alternatives

April 2001

Diamonds/New Products

Diamond Alternatives

For customers who want the look but not the expense

Diamonds are a girl’s best friend. But when the girl can’t afford or has other reasons for not buying a diamond, she looks for alternatives. Cubic zirconia and created moissanite are often at the top of her shopping list.

The CZ Story

Cubic zirconia dates to 1937, when two German mineralogists discovered the cubic form of zirconium oxide. Soviet scientists learned how to “grow” this mineral in a laboratory in the 1970s, and Swarovski & Co. began producing it for mass consumption in the 1980s. As it became more widely available, CZ quickly became popular with jewelry designers. New developments have led to a sparkling array of CZ in every color imaginable.

Though cubic zirconia looks like diamond, there are some noticeable differences. “CZ has slightly less brilliance than diamond and a hardness of 8.5 on the Mohs scale [diamond is 10],” says David T. Zepeda, sales manager for Fabulous Z, Dallas, TX. “CZ is 75% heavier and, because it’s grown in a controlled environment, a crystal isn’t used if it’s not perfect.”

The Moissanite Story

Moissanite was discovered in 1893 when Nobel-prize-winning scientist Henri Moissan uncovered minute quantities of a new mineral from a meteorite that crashed thousands of years before. In the late 1980s, Cree Research, Durham, NC, developed a way to produce moissanite crystals in a lab. In 1995, a master diamond cutter discovered that when cut properly, created moissanite crystals could look like diamond. Moissanite’s color is comparable to I-J-K colors of diamond, is 9.5 on the Mohs scale and has a refractive index of 2.648-2.691 (diamond is 2.417), dispersion of 0.104 (diamond is 0.044) and specific gravity of 3.21 (diamond is 3.52).
For clues to help you single out imposters, turn to “Checking for Fakes,” Professional Jeweler, June 2000, p. 36.

– by Lorraine M. O’Donnell, A.J.P.

From the fashion color collection, this sterling silver suite is set with square and round pink cubic zirconia stones.

Stahl Designs, Providence, RI; (888) 655-6736,

Hearts or arrows jewelry suite is crafted in sterling silver with clear and fancy yellow CZs. The earrings have 14k gold posts. The arrow pendant is $115 suggested retail, the arrow earrings are $149, the heart pendant is $125 and heart earrings are $149.

The Colibri Group, Providence, RI; (401) 943-2100, fax (401) 943-4230.

14k gold pendant is set with a princess-cut cubic zirconia solitaire. Suggested retail, $55. Call for prices on the matching earrings and line bracelet.

Krementz, Providence, RI; (401) 943-2100, fax (401) 943-4230.

Kelly Water’s rhodium-finished bracelet and pendant glisten with cubic zirconia accents.

Kelly Waters Inc. Boston, MA; (800) 647-7017, fax (877) 282-4103.

Photo by Warren Jagger

14k gold earrings with created moissanite are available in a variety of shapes and sizes and with four-prong posts or lever backs. Suggested retail, $274-$2,113.

Rio Grande, Albuquerque, NM; (800) 545-6566, fax (800) 965-2329.

14k white and yellow gold jewelry suite features CZ solitaires.

Fabulous Z, Dallas, TX; (800) 275-0641 or (972) 385-0202, fax (972) 385-7388.

Crafted in 14k or 18k gold, this black and white Signity cubic zirconia jewelry is from the White Nights collection.

Elini Gold Jewellery, Antwerp, Belgium; (32-3) 231-8640, fax (32-3) 231-9509,

3.5mm round cubic zirconia line bracelet is crafted in 14k gold. Suggested retail, $1,123.

Stuller, Lafayette, LA; (800) 877-7777, fax (800) 444-4741.

Stella ring is cast in 14k gold and set with a 5mm princess-cut cubic zirconia, 0.18 carat of channel-set diamonds and Australian opal inlay. Suggested retail, $1,660.

Sosa Designs Inc., Wilmington, NC; (888) 233-1444 or (910) 256-2323, fax (910) 256-2243,

Photo by Jerry Anthony Photography

14k white gold ring is bezel-set with a 1.5-ct. center created moissanite and two side created moissanites totaling 0.66 carat. Suggested retail, $1,490.

K&G Creations, division of JewelNet Corp., Boca Raton, FL; (561) 995-0666, fax (561) 995-6775,,

Copyright © 2001 by Bond Communications