Can CZ dull or get cloudy with time? Why does my natural diamond look hazy or milky? These are questions we frequently receive.
As member of the Prestigious Jewellers & Watchmakers Association of New Zealand (JWNZ) and a professional member of the International Gemmological Society (IGS) of the United States – we have an important role to play in educating consumers.
In this blog we hope to address this concern about cubic zirconia.
Cubic zirconia (CZ) is a beautiful alternative to diamond. Because of its low cost, durability, and close visual likeness to diamond, CZ is widely considered as one of the best faux diamonds.
Cubic Zirconia is a cubic form of zirconium dioxide that is created in a laboratory, thus it is not a mineral. The earliest generations of CZ, largely Russian stuff made in the early 70s was not without problems.
Early cubic zirconia was a very porous material which easily absorbed body oils. They would get cloudy over a short period of time. Further, the stones could change color if they got too hot during the cutting process or if the stones were exposed to strong UV light.
Today, modern high quality CZ does not have these issues but some are keen to know can CZ dull and become cloudy with wear?
Read on to find out.
The Inside Scoop on Cubic Zirconia
Cubic zirconia was discovered back in 1937 in Germany and was an affordable alternative to real diamonds. In the 1970s, scientists discovered how to grow CZ in a lab, which paved the way for mass consumption.
Since CZ grows in a similar way to natural crystals, the famous Swarovski® company started to market the jewelry in the 1980s. Soon, people were buying CZ jewelry to give as gifts and as a more affordable option to diamond and other gemstones.
Above. Since its market entry in 1976 CZ quickly dominated the diamond simulant market and it remains the most gemologically and economically important simulant. Photo source: Luxuria® Diamonds
Thanks to its beautifully sparkling appearance, CZ can shine just like a diamond. In fact, many jewellers can struggle to tell the difference between a cubic zirconia piece and a diamond one. High grades of CZ imitate diamond remarkably well.
You can find CZ jewelry in various colors for a versatile accessory to any ensemble. However, it’s important to know how to care for your jewelry since you don’t want to end up with a dull CZ ring, necklace, or earrings.
Can CZ Dull over Time, What are the causes?
Any gemstone can dull due to a variety of different factors, and cubic zirconia is no exception. If you expose your CZ jewelry to things like soap, lotion, hairspray, or makeup, it may start to lose its shine.
Furthermore, you also be aware that since CZ is not as hard as a natural diamond scratches to the stones surface are possible. An accumulation of surface scratches will reduce a cubic zirconia’s brilliant shine over time.
Any chemical that comes into contact with CZ can cause it to look dull and lose its sparkle.
Thankfully, there are some easy ways you can clean your jewelry to help restore it to its original condition.
When you ask “can CZ dull?” remember that it’s almost always a result of residue building up onto the stone. Thankfully, this residue is easy to remove in most cases.
ABOVE PHOTO: What does dull CZ look like? Dull cubic zirconia has poor light management and therefore looks flat and doesn’t sparkle with much (if any) intensity. Sometimes dull cz lacks contrast and is dark like seen in the above photo. Other times, particularly with lower quality or older cz the stone looks milky or cloudy in colour.
When cleaning cubic zirconia jewelry start by using a small, soft brush and some luke warm (not hot) water with mild liquid soap. Gently scrub your CZ jewelry with the brush after dipping the brush into the soap and water mixture.
Once you’re done scrubbing, rinse the jewelry in warm water and then pat it dry using a microfiber or cotton cloth. To keep your cubic zirconia from getting cloudy, clean it every few months to maintain its beautiful shine.
The secret is to clean all areas of the stone, including the bottom. A dirty underside, pavilion and culet, reduces light performance and sparkle.Luxuria® Diamonds
You may have seen some people claim that baking CZ jewelry can remove dullness or cloudiness. This is not recommended since it could cause your stone to become a dark brown color. Worse still, it could even cause the cubic zirconia to shatter and break.
Cleaning the Settings of Your CZ Jewelry
You can find cubic zirconia set in a variety of materials. Settings range from gold and 925 sterling silver to platinum and plated alloy. Depending on the material of your jewelry setting, it may start to dull or tarnish over time.
Any cubic zirconia jewelry set in gold, silver, or platinum should be cleaned using a high-quality, professional jewelry cleaner. You can also try a jewelry cleaning cloth to gently buff out dull spots and make your pieces shine.
Anything set in cheaper materials is more prone to dulling, tarnishing, and scratching much faster. Examples of cheap materials include base metals which are thinly plated with silver or gold. While they are cheap, we encourage you to avoid such settings.
For this type of material, simply use soap and water mixture to wash the jewelry, then pat it dry using a soft cloth before you wear it again.
Never apply an abrasive cleaner to plated jewelry since it can cause permanent scratches.
Furthermore, DO NOT use silver liquid cleaner to clean rhodium-plated jewelry. It is too harsh and can dull and/or harm the rhodium plating.
When in doubt, take your CZ jewelry to a local jeweler who can determine the best way to keep it clean.
Can CZ dull? GIA reports that whilst hard, cubic zirconia scratches more easily than a diamond. CZ appears less brilliant when dirty, so it should be kept clean. Photo source: Luxuria® Diamonds
Can CZ Dull with Frequent Cleaning? Tips for Maintaining Your Cubic Zirconia Jewelry
Since cubic zirconia is not as hard as real diamonds, it’s much more susceptible to becoming dull and cloudy over time. While cleaning it will restore its brilliant shine, there are also some things you can do to maintain your jewelry.
Take your CZ ring and other jewelry off before you take a bath or shower, wash your hands, or wash dishes. This will reduce the exposure to soaps and other chemicals that can cause it to look dull.
Store your jewelry in soft pouches or inside its original case when you’re not wearing it. Try to keep pieces away from each other in storage or they could end up scratching each other.
Avoid wearing your CZ jewelry when cleaning the house, washing dishes, working out, or doing anything strenuous. This will help to protect it from things like sweat, exposure to chemicals, or to getting scratched on various surfaces.
Always remove any jewelry before you swim in a pool since the chlorine can tarnish metals and cloud your stone. Clean your CZ jewelry at least once a month if you wear it often. If you only wear it on occasion, simply clean it whenever you notice that the stone is starting to look dull or cloudy.
If your CZ jewelry is dull due to worn facets and deep scratches after decades of wear and tear, you can change the stone to make it look new again. An experienced jeweler can easily handle the job to replace your stone with a new one at a reasonably low cost.
In Conclusion, Does CZ get cloudy?
In summary, and in answer to the question – can CZ dull or does CZ get cloudy with time – it’s possible.
The cause of dulling or loss of shine can be surface scratching of the CZ stone.
Dulling can also occur due to a build-up of residue from chemicals, grease and oils for example, found in soaps, lotions and hairsprays.
The remedies are straightforward.
If the surface is scratched enough to effect clarity and make it look cloudy a simple repolish of the table by a jeweller will fix it. Another alternative is simply to replace the CZ stone which is a simple job for qualified jewelers. If your jeweler says they can’t replace a dull CZ move onto another store. Avoid jewelry chain stores. Many of them won’t undertake work related to cubic zirconia stones and don’t have trained jewelers instore anyway.
Most of the time CZ sparkle can be restored with cleaning. And here is an important tip. Don’t just focus on the stone surface. Diamond simulants including CZ can dull up quickly if their backs get dirty.
As with all jewelry care is important. Any gemstone will look dull or dirty over time if it is not maintained and cleaned. Protect your cubic zirconia pieces from exposure to soap, chlorine, sweat, and chemicals to ensure that it lasts for a long time.
Well maintained CZ does not fade and CZ jewelry that has been properly looked after lasts for decades.
Visit our website to shop our latest selection of jewelry, and contact us today with any questions so we can help you find the jewelry of your dreams.
Want to learn more?
Sales of sterling silver engagement rings with cubic zirconia stones (sometimes referred to as temporary or placeholder rings) have skyrocketed in recent years as more prospective grooms seek to eliminate the risk of buying the wrong natural diamond engagement ring. Read more CZ engagement rings
Here are five reasons why silver and CZ engagement rings are on trend for 2020.
Want to know what the best fake diamonds are? Read our article on determinants you should consider to decide what makes a good fake diamond.
We also welcome any comments you have on the topic of can CZ Dull or Get Cloudy with Time? Please leave a reply in the comments section below.
7 replies on “Does CZ Dull or Get Cloudy With Time?“
This article is amazing and the topic of this is quite informative…
Hello Fiona. We are happy to read you found the article informative. The topic of can CZ dull seems to be of widespread interest. Of course, any gemstone can dull due to a variety of different factors, and cubic zirconia is no exception. Thankfully in the case of CZ, dulling is often due to residue building up onto the stone which cleaning can solve.
What if your stone is milky without scratches and even after cleaning?
The overall quality of cubic zirconia has improved greatly of the past couple of decades. It is rarer today to see milky or cloudy CZ but we still see some cloudy CZ which visually can be quite dead looking, lacking sparkle. Much of time this is caused by surface scratching or a residue build-up of from chemicals, grease and oils for example which are commonly found in soaps, lotions and hairsprays.
If your CZ stone is still dull after cleaning and doesn’t have obvious surface scratches you may have an old CZ (before technology improved) or a low grade CZ. CZ is graded on a scale of A to AAAAA with 1A being the lowest quality and 6A being the highest. Read more about quality CZ here
We recommend customers look for 5A or 6A cubic zirconia. The recommended solution in your case – assuming you wish to keep the ring – is to have a jeweller replace the CZ stone.
I found your article when I was looking up information on cubic zirconia and acetone. Like cubic zirconia stone came out of my four-pronged setting engagement ring. I could not find a jeweler who would replace it into it’s original ring setting, citing that the heat would shatter the cubic zirconia. (Which I don’t understand because something got it set into that ring initially didn’t it?) Anyway, I tried to put the stone back In myself using crazy glue. That part worked except now it’s cloudy and I want to take it back out. The only thing I know to dissolve crazy glue is acetone. So my question is… Will acetone hurt my cubic zirconia? My ring is 10 karat gold and I can’t afford to replace it. I wouldn’t mind replacing the stone, but if it’s impossible to put a cubic zirconia back in without melting it, then that’s a lost cause anyway! So how DOES one replace a cubic zirconia stone, practically?
Thanks for stopping by to read our article on whether cubic zirconia can dull or get cloudy with time.
Unfortunately the advice you received from the jewellers you approached was poor. It could be the store(s) in question had a policy of not wanting to undertake work related to or replacing CZ stones. Further, you may have visited jewelry chain stores that don’t have actual qualified jewellers instore and/or have a policy of only repairing product they have sold.
Assuming the prongs that held the cubic zirconia in place are not damaged and remain fit for purpose, replacing a CZ is a quick and easy task for a trained jeweler. The key is to select a replacement CZ that fits the seat left by the previous one. The setter will need to check and possibly adjust the bearing placement before the replacement stone is seated and the prongs are bent with specialized pliers to ensure a snug fit and security for the central CZ stone.
Even if the prongs need re-tipping it can be done in such a way that the torch is not directing heating the CZ, keeping the heat on the outside of the prongs. This is very important not just for CZ but also for semi-precious gemstone replacements such as blue topaz, citrine, amethyst etc.
Never use glue! Only cheap fashion jewelry is glued. The glue will reduce the light performance of the CZ, potentially making the CZ look dull. In fact, as our above article points out any chemical that comes into contact with CZ can cause it to look dull and lose its sparkle.
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