Does CZ Dull or Get Cloudy With Time?

Does cubic zirconia tarnish, Dull or get cloudy with time?


Can CZ dull or get cloudy with time?  Does cubic zirconia tarnish?  Why does my CZ look hazy or milky and sparkle less?  These are questions we frequently receive from customers.

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.

So, we will use this blog to answer questions and concerns about cubic zirconia. We will also address other questions like how long does cubic zirconia last and recommended maintenance for CZ stone.


What is CZ and Problems with early generation CZ


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.  Early generation CZ would get cloudy over a short period of time.  Further, early CZ stones could even change color if they got too hot during the cutting process.  First generation cz could also change color if exposed to strong UV light.

Today, modern high quality CZ does not have these issues.  Modern CZ, particularly higher grade 5A and 6A cz is not nearly as porous.  Furthermore, CZ won’t change color.   However, some are keen to know does cubic zirconia tarnish and 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.


Can cz dull Luxuria Diamonds
PHOTO:  Since its market entry in 1976 CZ quickly dominated the diamond simulant market.  Today cubic zirconia remains the most gemologically and economically important diamond simulant.  Photo above is a 2 carat diamond simulant engagement ring set using CZ.

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 and what are the causes?

Can CZ dull or does cubic zirconia get cloudy with time?  The answer is Yes!

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 CZ is not as hard as diamond or moissanite or white sapphire.   As a result 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.   Sweat and oils produced by the skin which find their way to the CZ stone via touching and fingerprints also lead to cz losing its shine.

Thankfully, there are some easy ways you can clean your jewelry to help restore it to its original condition.   See a sub-heading below for more guidance on that.

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.

What does dull cubic zirconia look like

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, hazy or cloudy in colour.


Does Cubic Zirconia tarnish?

A question often asked is does cubic zirconia tarnish?    The answer is NO!   Many online articles will say that cubic zirconia tarnishes.   This is incorrect and to understand why one needs to define what tarnish is.  

Tarnish is a thin layer of corrosion that forms over copper, brass, aluminum, magnesium, neodymium and other similar metals as their outermost layer undergo a chemical reaction.  Tarnish is a product of a chemical reaction between a metal and a nonmetal compound, typically oxygen.

Cubic zirconia is not a pure metal, it’s a compound.  Cubic zirconia (abbreviated CZ) is the cubic crystalline form of zirconium dioxide (ZrO2).  Tarnishing is more generally known as oxidation and involves combination of a material with oxygen.  However, chemically, Zirconia is already a compound of zirconium and oxygen with formula ZrO2.  There is no driving force for it to further oxidise, at any temperature.  As such Cubic zirconia itself won’t tarnish or rust.


does cubic zirconia tarnish

PHOTO:  Does cubic zirconia tarnish?  The answer is no, but CZ can dull or loss its shine from surface scratches or residue build up.  Seen above is a hazy cubic zirconia which has lost its sparkle. [Photo credit: Kwangmoozaa / iStock via Getty Images]


Will Cubic Zirconia rust?

Some ask the question does cubic zirconia rust?   The answer, as with tarnishing, is NO!

Rust is an iron oxide, a usually reddish-brown oxide formed by the reaction of iron and oxygen in the catalytic presence of water or air moisture.   Cubic zirconia does not contain iron.

But while cubic zirconia will not rust or tarnish, the jewelry setting which its placed in certainly can.  Metal is the most widely used base material in jewelry.   Not all metals tarnish, however, metals such as silver, copper, brass or nickel will tarnish when elements within the metal oxidize when exposed to air, sweat, or other chemicals (think hand sanitizers, cleaners, etc.). Tarnishing is a form of corrosion, and the off-colour it produces usually consists of the metal’s oxide or sulphide.

A tarnished metal can obviously take a toll on the appearance of cubic zirconia jewelry.   No stone whether precious or CZ will look good if its surrounded or set in a tarnished metal.   The appearance of tarnish, oxidation or rust on jewelry leads some to incorrectly conclude that cubic zirconia rusts.    Again, cubic zirconia does not rust.


Treating cloudy Cubic Zirconia

Most of the time cloudy cubic zirconia or dull CZ occurs due to a build-up of residue from chemicals, grease and oils for example, found in soaps, lotions and hairsprays.   The solution to treating clouding cubic zirconia is careful cleaning.

When cleaning cubic zirconia jewelry start by using a small, soft brush.  A baby toothbrush with fine bristles is best.  Arrange a small tub of luke warm (not hot) water with mild liquid soap.   Then, 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 CZ 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 CZ 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. 

cloudy cubic zirconia how to restore cloudy cz

PHOTO:  Cloudy cubic zirconia, how to retore it?   Treating cloudy zirconia should start with about a teaspoon of dish soap to your bowl filled with luke warm water.   This is followed by a gentle brush with a baby toothbrush with superfine bristles that can get into small crevices. [Photo credit: Kwangmoozaa / Getty Images]


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.

Does cz get cloudy with time Luxuria Diamonds
PHOTO:   Can CZ dull?  Diamond Authority 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


Is Cubic Zirconia for you?

Everyone has their own personal preference when it comes to engagement rings. Cubic zirconia is the best option if you’re on a very strict budget.  Look for stainless steel or sterling silver cubic zirconia engagement rings. These are beautiful, but inexpensive, and both the band and the stone will last a few years.

You can start by visiting our Luxuria® brand store. 


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 2024.

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.

8 replies on “Does CZ Dull or Get Cloudy With Time?

    • Ralph Ede

      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.

    • Ralph Ede

      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.

  • Carla Banks-Williams

    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?

    • Ralph Ede

      Hello Carla,

      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.

  • Ashish Mittal

    Excellent Blog I’m Following Your Website From Few Months. Thanks For Sharing Content It’s Very Helpful And Your Designing Is Also Awesome.


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