Does Cubic Zirconia Tarnish ? Does It Look Real ?

Cubic zirconia is the most inexpensive diamond simulant available on the market, and because of this you’ll see it in many jewelry pieces that are fast fashion or costume jewelry. This gemstone is man-made, and it has a sparkle that can easily be confused for a diamond if you’re not a trained professional. Still, the very low price point makes it clear that it’s not a diamond.

So you might be wondering all kinds of things about cubic zirconia, since it’s so cheap. Does it tarnish ? Does it turn your skin green ? Does CZ scratch and does it get cloudy in time ? How real does CZ really look ? All this and more, coming right up.

cubic zirconia tarnish (1)

Does cubic zirconia tarnish ?

Cubic zirconia itself does not tarnish, but the base metal of the setting might tarnish, depending on what it is made of. Cubic zirconia is a man-made gem made of zirconium dioxide, which does not tarnish.

Sometimes the setting metal for your CZ may tarnish green-blue, which is usually due to the metal being a copper alloy. In these cases the green tarnish can seep between the CZ and the prongs, making the CZ appear a different color or like it tarnished. But a quick cleaning will reveal that the gem is fine, it’s just the metal.

If your cubic zirconia is set in silver, which is quite common, the silver may tarnish in time which is completely normal. A quick clean will usually fix that. Or, you could opt to buy silver with a rhodium plating, which will not wear off in earrings or pendants.

Does cubic zirconia turn your skin green ?

No, cubic zirconia itself as a gem does not turn your skin green as it does not contain copper or nickel, which are the usual culprits. This means that if you wear cubic zirconia directly on the skin, such as chokers, it’s not the gemstone that may turn your skin green but the setting metal.

If this is an inexpensive fast fashion choker, the metal in it will usually contains brass, nickel, or copper, and have a chrome coating. That coating can wear off, especially if you sweat or use perfume while wearing the necklace. This is something that happens quite often so don’t be disappointed. There isn’t much you can do if the metal is at fault, aside from not wearing it anymore.

Does cubic zirconia rust ?

No, cubic zirconia does not rust as it contains no iron at all. What might rust is the base metal or the setting metal, if it is a cheap metal such as aluminium. Cubic zirconia itself does not rust but very old, cheap versions of CZ did yellow a bit in time.

Read also: Does Moissanite Last ? Can You Wear It Every Day ?

Is cubic zirconia okay for bridal jewelry ?

Yes, cubic zirconia is great for bridal jewelry because it offers you the possibility of wearing one-time use sparkling gems without spending a fortune on them. We say one-time use because most people don’t re-wear their bridal jewelry. Some don’t re-wear it because they like to have it in a memory box along with other keepsakes and some don’t re-wear it because it’s big, heavy jewelry and not easy to incorporate into everyday life.

For example at our wedding I had a CZ tiara, which I keep as a memento since I have nowhere to re-wear it. I also had a pair of very large chandelier CZ earrings set in silver, because I have a bit of an earring obsession. Those earrings are impossible to re-wear, unless we are attending another big event like a wedding or big party, or going somewhere extremely fancy. My earrings were very similar to these, but a bit larger.

Marquise cut cubic zirconia chandelier earrings, set in genuine silver with rhodium plating. See them on Amazon. 

Does cubic zirconia scratch ?

Yes, cubic zirconia can scratch and accumulate enough of those scratches to become dull, but this takes several years. Cubic zirconia is about as tough as beryl (emerald, morganite, aquamarine), and both score an 8 out of 10 on the Mohs scale of hardness. This means that very large gems worn in rings or bracelets will get dull in time but again, this takes several years.

Cubic zirconia can be re-polished if need be, but it might be cheaper or simpler to just get a new stone or a new ring altogether instead of reworking the one you have (unless there is sentimental value).

In order to keep your CZ gem safe for as long as possible, it might be a good idea to look for a ring with at least 6 prongs if not 8, or better yet a bezel setting. Chipping is a real issue with CZ and a bezel setting will make sure you won’t get as many chips and scratches as you would with a prong.

Does cubic zirconia look real ?

Yes, cubic zirconia can easily look like real gemstones, even diamonds, at least at first glance. Once you look at it with a magnifying glass you notice differences in sparkle between CZ and moissanite and diamonds. But for the purpose of daily wear, or wearing a cheap replacement during travel, CZ is a good, believable option and it comes in any shape, size, color, and cut you want it.

Even daily wear CZ won’t immediately scream ‘I’m not a diamond’, unless someone takes a very close look at your ring, and even then they’d have to be a trained professional to spot it without a loupe. You can’t re-sell CZ as diamond to a jeweler and it won’t pass a diamond tester, just to be clear.

So will anyone know it’s CZ ? No. Not unless you tell them. Is it a good idea to wear cubic zirconia ? We don’t see why not. If you’re happy with it and it feels right, there is no real reason to not wear it.

Does cubic zirconia turn color ?

No, cubic zirconia will not turn color or yellow in time. It may warm up in color if you decide to slow-bake it in the oven, which we seriously advise against but some people still do. There’s no real result aside from a slight color change.

But don’t worry about your cubic zirconia getting weird colors in time. It can get dull if you won’t clean it though, so make sure you use a soft toothbrush and warm soapy water on it every month or so (if you wear it daily). Pat dry and you’re good to go.

Can cubic zirconia get wet ?

Yes, cubic zirconia can get wet as it won’t be damaged by water or change its color due to water. As long as your regularly clean your CZ it should withstand showers, pools, the sea, cooking, and so on. It’s more important to make sure the setting metal is still in place and secure, because that is what’s keeping the CZ in place.

Pros and cons of cubic zirconia jewelry

Cubic zirconia seems like a great jewelry option so far, doesn’t it ? It has its good and bad parts, so let’s take a look at them in a condensed form.

Pros of cubic zirconia jewelry:

  • it is always inexpensive, even compared to moissanite
  • is budget-friendly and great for promise rings
  • can be worn without care, easy to replace if needed
  • does not need insurance
  • can easily build a jewelry collection with it, without breaking the bank

Cons of cubic zirconia jewelry:

  • can look gaudy or over the top in large sizes
  • half the time is set in cheap metal that may tarnish
  • can and will scratch, chip, and get cloudy with prolonged use

So it’s up to you whether you’d like to wear cubic zirconia or not. These gems are beautiful and inexpensive and it really does depend on your lifestyle and social circle whether this is a good idea for you or not.