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Lab Diamonds vs Cubic Zirconia: Everything You Need to Know

by Clean Origin
Last updated on September 16, 2023
Diamond Sizes Chart

With so many diamond alternatives in today’s market, keeping up with all of them and fully understanding their differences can be challenging. To the untrained eye, comparing lab diamonds vs cubic zirconia (the most well-known diamond stand-in) can be extremely difficult. However, initial appearances aside, several differences set these stones apart. Suppose you’re shopping for diamond jewelry but want something other than a mined diamond topping it off. In that case, being able to distinguish between lab grown diamonds and cubic zirconia can be extremely helpful, both in terms of preparing a budget and setting expectations.

What Is Cubic Zirconia?

cubic zirconia stone

Cubic zirconia is the cubic crystalline form of zirconium dioxide. Zirconium alone is a component of many products, such as dental implants, but the crystalline version produces the diamond simulant many of us know as ‘CZ.’

Cubic zirconia stones do not qualify as synthetic diamonds due to their chemical compositions and physical properties, which are distinct from those of lab grown and natural diamonds.

What Are Lab Grown Diamonds?

three diamond rings laying on tan silk

Lab created diamonds are grown in a lab using cutting-edge technology that replicates the growing process of natural diamonds.

Are Lab Grown Diamonds Real Diamonds?


Yes, lab grown diamonds are real. A lab created diamond is just as real as a natural diamond. Lab grown diamonds share the same chemical composition as mined diamonds without the adverse effects of traditional diamond mining. The difference between the two lies within their origin – one comes from the ground, while the other is made in a lab.

Choosing Between a Lab Diamond or Cubic Zirconia Ring

Couple holding hands while woman wears a pear shaped diamond ring

Although they look similar to mined or lab grown diamonds, there are many glaring differences between diamonds and CZs.


To start, CZs have entirely different chemical compositions. When comparing a diamond and a CZ side by side, you’ll notice one significant difference: the CZ will give off the appearance of a “rainbow effect.” This is often a dead giveaway that it is not a true mined or lab diamond.


CZs are also much softer than diamonds. With the most durability of all minerals, diamonds place a perfect 10 on the Mohs Hardness Scale. CZs come in at an 8.5, making them prone to scratching and becoming foggy over time.


It is also important to discuss lab grown diamonds vs cubic zirconia stones in terms of price. Lab grown diamonds can be anywhere from 20-40% less expensive than mined diamonds simply because of their shorter supply chain. CZs carry very little market value and can usually be anywhere from $30-$200, depending on the size.

CZs are a great alternative to more expensive stones when you’re tight on budget or looking for a placeholder for a lab or mined diamond. If you want to pledge your love and commitment but your financials are a bit tighter than expected, there is nothing wrong with purchasing a cubic zirconia ring for your significant other. There is no shame in presenting the one you love with a gorgeous gemstone, even if it’s not a real diamond.

The time will come down the road when you will be able to upgrade the ring. And when that time comes, a lab grown diamond will be the perfect choice to ensure an affordable, ethically sourced diamond that will provide your partner with joy and peace of mind for years to come.

Benefits of Choosing Lab Grown Diamonds

model wearing diamond earrings, necklace, and rings

As mentioned above, lab grown diamonds can be significantly less expensive than mined diamonds. This allows more couples to find the ring of their dreams at a price they never dreamt possible. It also gives you a lot more wiggle room in your budget to get a better diamond. For example, with the 20-40% savings, you could improve your desired diamond’s cut, color, or clarity.

When you consider all of the steps that must take place to move a diamond from deep within the Earth to your loved one’s finger, it’s pretty startling. From the giant gaping holes in the Earth left by the physical mining to the emissions and energy wasted from the equipment, it’s enough to make you stop and reconsider.

Lab diamonds are significantly less harmful to the environment than mined diamonds. According to a study by Frost & Sullivan, lab grown diamonds require 215.4% less energy than mined diamonds. Their emissions are also a mere 4.8% of what mined diamonds produce.

Finally, lab grown diamonds are the only way to ensure a 100% ethically-sourced diamond. Although many companies claim their mined diamonds are “conflict-free,” it’s almost impossible to know if this is true. Tracking a singular stone from excavation through the cutting, grading, and distribution processes is extremely difficult. Some companies have even been called out for their misleading promises in this regard.

Discover the Perfect Engagement Ring at Clean Origin

Clean Origin store

Shop our collection of engagement rings and jewelry with confidence. At Clean Origin, our team of diamond jewelry experts is ready to help you! Schedule a virtual consultation with one of our team members or visit a showroom in a city near you today!