Cubic zirconia was first discovered in 1937 in Germany, but it became popular in the 1970s when scientists learned how to grow cubic zirconia, much as natural crystals are grown. Swarovski, noted for its crystals, began marketing CZ jewelry in the 80s, and it became immensely popular. Even though all cubic zirconia stones are synthetic, they can be amazing diamond stimulants, and sometimes even the best gemologists can’t distinguish cubic zirconia from diamonds with the naked eye. Cubic zirconia jewelry can also be manufactured to look like colored stones, not just diamonds, giving it extreme versatility.
Even though cubic zirconia can look just like diamonds to the naked eye, they’re not nearly as hard as diamonds, so they need more frequent and careful cleaning. Use a soft brush to clean the jewels themselves, scrubbing gently with warm, mild soapy water to get rid of any dirt accumulation. Rinse your cubic zirconia jewelry well in warm water, since soap scum can build up easily, and then pat it dry with a soft, clean cloth. Don’t ever use tissues to wash or dry jewelry. Plan on cleaning your cubic zirconia jewelry at least every two to three months to keep it looking its best.
Cubic zirconia jewelry can be set in metals ranging from platinum and 18k gold to silverplate or even stainless steel. The higher the quality of metal, the more likely your jewelry is to remain looking beautiful. Cheaper metals, on the other hand, are more likely to tarnish or even become dented or scratched. Use a high-quality jewelry cleaner and tarnish remover to clean sterling silver cubic zirconia jewelry, as well as platinum and 14k or 18k gold. However, if your gold or silver jewelry is plated with rhodium to prevent scratches, clean it with mild soap and water, just as you clean the jewels themselves.
When you’re storing your cubic zirconia jewelry, you need to pay more attention to the metal settings holding the jewels than to the jewels themselves. The CZ is unlikely to become scratched or damaged. Use a jewelry pouch to store your more important pieces, or set aside a section of your jewelry case. Foam settings and soft cloths can make a big difference in keeping pieces from rubbing up against each other.
While you’re wearing your fine cubic zirconia jewelry, keep it away from caustic solutions of all kinds. Take off rings and bracelets when you’re washing your hands or applying lotion, and don’t wear it when you’re cleaning house or doing laundry. Chlorine and the other chemicals in swimming pools can damage sterling silver, so take off your sterling cubic zirconia jewelry before you dive in. Take off your CZ jewelry before exercising as well, since perspiration can dull the jewels.