Cubic zirconia is made from a mineral, zirconium oxide, discovered in 1937. It became popular in the 1980s when Swarovski began manufacturing and promoting it to the public for jewelry use. Today, it is available in colorful stones and imitation diamonds that so closely mimic the real gems that some jewelers can’t tell the difference. If you have cubic zirconia jewelry, here are some tips for taking care of it.
Imitation Diamonds – these stones look so much like real diamonds that some jewelers can’t tell them apart without examining the stone under a microscope. Real diamonds are some of the hardest stones with a rating of 10, and cubic zirconia stones have a hardness rating of 8.5. Both stones wear extremely well without chipping or cracking. Since cubic zirconia stones are man-made, their brilliance and sparkle are not as good as those of real diamonds, but the clarity is perfect. The stones are carefully examined and flawed ones are simply not used.
Colored Stones – these minerals can be made in any color, mimicking rubies, emeralds, sapphires, topaz, aquamarine and many other gemstones. They are available in various shapes and sizes and can be set in any of the metals available. Color is very clear and bright, with a lot of light reflection in the stone.
Cleaning the Stones
Cubic zirconia stones can get dirty faster than real stones since they are not as hard, and they may need to be cleaned more often. It is a good idea to wear your stones with caution and take them off when doing activities such as gardening, laundry, cleaning and bathing. Chemicals and soaps will leave a residue on these stones, causing them to become dull quickly.
Avoid using lotion, hairspray, makeup, powders and cleaning agents while wearing your jewelry. A good way to clean your stones is to use a small soft brush and hot soapy water to remove dirt. Rinse it in warm water and pat dry with a clean cloth. This will restore the cubic zirconia stone to its natural shine and clarity. Cleaning should be done every few weeks to maintain the maximum appeal of the stone.
Cubic Zirconia Settings
Cubic zirconia can be set in 14k and 18k gold, sterling silver, silver plate, and platinum. Jewelry in these settings can be worn frequently without much damage to the setting. Jewelry set in cheaper materials may tarnish and scratch much faster and may not clean well.
Cleaning the Settings
Settings made of quality metals such as 14k and 18k gold, sterling silver, silver plate and platinum can be cleaned with any good jewelry cleaner. Cheaper materials may tarnish and not clean well. Some metals, including gold and silver, may also be plated with a special finish such as Rhodium to help prevent scratching and tarnishing. These plated finishes will scratch, so jewelry should be worn more carefully. Plated finishes should not be cleaned with jewelry cleaners or polished. Use only soap and water and wipe dry.
Photo Credit: © Julianna Olah / Fotolia