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The beauty and brilliance of diamonds has been admired throughout history. However, in past centuries their use was reserved strictly for royalty. Today, thanks to remarkable diamond substitutes like Cubic Zirconia, almost anyone can afford to dapper up their accessory collection with dazzling, eye-catching jewelry.

Because Cubic Zirconia is the finest synthetic stone, it is virtually impossible to tell the difference between a diamond and a well-cut Cubic Zirconia without the assistance of magnification. Since it does not contain any of the impurities or flaws normally found in diamonds, Cubic Zirconia usually present more sparkle and clarity than a diamond. While they are not quite as hard as diamonds, they are still much harder than most other gemstones.

Cubic Zirconia, or CZ, are beautiful stones, but the most notable thing about them is their moderate price. This presents a solution for those on a tighter budget, but creates a problem for the industry when people try to pass off a synthetic diamond as a real one. Even experienced jewelers have been known to be fooled by imitations; a mistake that can prove to be extremely costly in terms of both dollars and reputation. A few years back, ABC’s 20/20 News team took a high intensity CZ, as well as a perfect $50,000,000 mined diamond to the New York Diamond District. After an expert meticulously scrutinized the two stones, he announced confidently that BOTH stones were counterfeit!

Because it so difficult to tell the difference, neither the storeowner, nor the customer, should automatically assume that any diamond is genuine, and neither party should take offense at the other's attempts to verify the stone's identity. It is a mutual system of protection. It must also be noted however, that while the key manufacturers of cubic zirconia typically support the full disclosure of their stones' laboratory origin, there are still many jewelers and gem dealers that are not as forthcoming with this information as they should be. For this reason, Federal Trade Commission rules and the policies of jewelry industry organizations are actively demanding full disclosure of the origin and treatments of all gem stones.

So how do you tell the difference between a fake and the real thing? Well, the first thing you need is an instrument that can magnify the stone 10 times. By examining the direction in which the facets point and the clarity of the lines they form, you should be able to see that the CZ’s facets don't point properly, and at the point where the facets intersect with each other, they do not form a perfect sharp line. This junction will also be slightly more rounded than that of the diamond, with numerous abrasions along the intersection.

While these and other methods of distinguishing between diamonds and CZ’s are technologically feasible, they are, like the many tiny flaws in diamonds, not based on “naked eye” vision. Therefore, paying the exorbitant difference between a real diamond and a CZ is essentially without any real logical basis. With the only major difference between diamonds and cubic zirconia being the price, the only thing left to consider on the part of the consumer, is sentiment. After all, Cubic Zirconia are not only as good as diamonds, but in many ways they are better because they do not have the flaws in both structure and grading systems that diamonds tend to have. If the difference can't be seen to the naked eye, the decision to spend more on a “real” diamond can only be based on the consumer’s desire for a natural rather than a manufactured element. However if those types of concerns are not an issue, I say go for the CZ! Nobody will be able to tell if your luminous accessories are fake or the real thing. After all, how many people do you see walking around dinner parties peering at jewelry through a high powered-lens?