What's a Cubic Zirconia Stone
by Dale Armstrong

What are CZs, and how are they different from crystals? Where do I find them? How are they different from lab stones?

-Merry in Smithers, B.C

As I believe you are inquiring about the difference between different cut stone definitions, here is my answer
Both lab-grown and lab-created stones are those that have been made by man by using the same composition and structure as a natural, earth-grown stone, that can also be labeled "synthetic." They are most often more vivid in color and rarely have inclusions, as only purified material is used in the process. They are "real" stones, but not from the earth; a stone labeled "simulated" usually means it is of a glass composition.
If a cut stone is just called "crystal" it is usually glass. However natural, clear quartz is termed "Rock Crystal" as the piece has more than likely been faceted from a chunk of quartz crystal (as this material rarely forms clear in bulk/matrix).
A Swarovski bead is made of Full Lead Crystal, meaning that the lead oxide content in the glass mixture is a minimum of 32%. The addition of the lead oxide gives this special glass a nice weight as well as extra refractive qualities, making lead crystal sparkle.
Cubic Zirconia, also called "CZ," is a manmade material that was developed in 1977 to simulate a diamond. Composed of zirconium dioxide, CZs have a hardness of 8, a very high refractive index (giving it the ability to sparkle & shine) and an incredibly high melting point (which is why my PMC friends love this material!). Wire-Sculpture has one of the most amazing selections of loose Cubic Zirconia stones you will find!
For future reference, the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) has easily-understood guidelines that can help you when purchasing stones.

Answer contributed by Dale "Cougar" Armstrong


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