What's The Difference? Zircon vs. Cubic Zirconia

What's The Difference? Zircon vs. Cubic Zirconia

Zircon and Cubic Zirconia are often confused. This is understandable due to their similar appearance and name but that's where the resemblance ends because these two gemstones are very different chemically, structurally, and optically. Here's how to tell the difference between Zircon and Cubic Zirconia.


At Vibe Collection you'll find the oldest mineral used in jewelry making, Zircon. The confusion between Zircon and Cubic Zirconia has been unfair to Zircon's reputation because it's often considered a cheap or fake diamond stimulant. Synthetic versions exist but they're not very common. 

Zircon is made of zirconium silicate, while cubic zirconia is made up of zirconium oxide. This is where the two gemstones get their similar names despite having completely different ingredients. 

Three Virgins Ring in Zircon

The oldest Zircon crystals were found in Australia and are estimated to be over 4.4 billion years old. Natural Cubic Zirconia was discovered in the 1930s. Scientist  began working on synthesizing Cubic Zirconia (due to it being so rare to find), and perfected the process in 1970s for mass production.

Zircon is also a much softer stone than Cubic Zirconia. It's a 6-7.5 on the Mohs scale. If your Zircon gemstone has a hardness rating below 7, it can be easily scratched. Cubic Zirconia has a hardness rating of 8-8.5 and doesn't easily chip or damage.

Zircon is extremely sensitive to sunlight and other ultraviolet lights. Exposure to these lights can possibly fade or change the color. Cubic Zirconia can get cloudy overtime and requires proper maintenance to last. 


Cubic Zirconia is man-made and manipulated. This gives it a flawless finish and clarity. Zircon is transparent and normally free of impurities making it a good choice for those who prefer a natural stone and clarity.  

Natural gemstones will always be more valuable than man-made ones, making Zircon higher in value than Cubic Zirconia. A carat of Cubic Zirconia ranges anywhere from $15 to $20 while a carat of Zircon can sell anywhere between $75 to $200. Although Cubic Zirconia is easier on the pockets, Zircon will last longer and be more valuable in the long run. 


Colorless Zircon is the most purest form, but you can also find this natural gemstone in pink, blue, yellow and green. Green Zircon is the rarest color and most valuable, while colorless is the least valuable. If viewed at different angles certain zircon stones may show different colors due to the presence of trace elements found within the natural stone.

Mini Princess Round Earrings in Green Zircon

Since Cubic Zirconia is lab created, the producers of this stone can control the final color to a large extent. Cubic Zirconia is often made colorless to resemble a diamond but it's also available in pink, green, black, blue, orange, and red. 

Zircon has a high sparkle, luster, and is highly reflective in the light. Because of the refraction in Zircon, lighting may give the illusion of it having more facets than it actually does. Cubic Zirconia cannot match the brilliance of Zircon, making Zircon a better stone for light performance. Cubic Zirconia also loses its luster after being worn for a while.

So which stone is better? It depends on the buyer. Zircon can be considered better than Cubic Zirconia because it occurs in nature and is powered by it. It offers physical & mental strength, balance, abundance, wealth, and wisdom. It's also a better investment due to it being more valuable now (and in the future). Cubic Zirconia can be considered better because it's cheaper, easier to find, and more durable for everyday wear. 

Which gemstone do you prefer? 

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