The difference between Zirconia and Swarovski crystal is one of the most popular topics of discussion among fans of cheap imitation jewelry. Both stones have earned an undeniable reputation despite being synthesized using similar laboratory methods. Artificially grown gemstones have even been called the "diamonds of the future" because they can reproduce light refraction so well when properly polished and finely cut.
Let's take a general look at the differences between zirconia and Swarovski, what unique properties each type of crystal has, and whether you can tell them apart at home.
Which came first: Zirconia or Swarovski? Manufacturing technology Daniel Swarovski, the founding father of the legendary brand, began actively reforming the world of jewelry in 1889, when his company unveiled the first electrically powered faceting machine at the World's Fair in Paris. However, only rock crystal blanks were cut there, which later became rhinestones.
Zirconia is the brainchild of Soviet scientists who, in 1970, succeeded in synthesizing zirconia into a crystal body with properties similar to diamonds.
A little later, Swarovski began producing its cubic zirconia stones, which were called "cubic zirconia" in Europe because of the crystal's molecular structure. In their composition they differ from the Soviet and Russian stones - the addition of lead slightly changes the spectrum of light refraction, and the stones literally shine with an iridescent glow even in dim light.
Important: to avoid confusion, the manufacturer has divided conventional rhinestones made of glass from the more expensive imitations into sub-brands. The former include, for example, the inlays produced under the Swarovski Crystal brand, which are much cheaper and are used for high-end fashion jewelry. The brand counterpart of zirconia is known as Swarovski Zirconia - they are used exclusively in gold and silver jewelry.
How can I tell the difference between a Swarovski crystal and a zirconia crystal? It's difficult to do an examination at home, but there are a few obvious nuances that distinguish the two man-made minerals:
- Swarovski zirconia, made in the last few decades, are often branded - one of the facets bears the logo, which can be seen with a 12x or higher magnifying glass.
- Zirconia stones have more natural colors, even if they are factory colored. Although most stones are colorless, like a diamond, some are pink or blue.
- The same goes for the cuts - the stones made in Russia are as conservative as possible and stick to the classic shapes.
- Austrian jewelers patented the Pure Brilliance cut technique. This creates a spectrum that plays in the sun, which is not the case with zirconia.
The main difference is that Swarovski Zirconia inlays require certification. The supplier agrees to provide the store with the appropriate documents that confirm the Austrian label is authentic for each piece of jewelry.