Types of Crystals – Cubic Zirconia vs Swarovski vs Czech Crystal

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What Is Crystal?

Customers come to Angela Wozniak Jewellery searching for crystal jewellery, but what is unclear is if they are searching for rock crystals or man-made crystals.  The dictionary defines crystals as naturally occurring (organic) but there are so many different types of man-made crystals which are also referred to as ‘crystal’. This is where the confusion starts. Let’s just say that the word is broadly used for both. What matters is understanding the differences and ensuring your expectations are met when buying crystal jewellery online.

What is ‘Rock’ Crystal?

Rock crystals form naturally (organic) deep in the earth’s crust. Rock crystals have to be mined before being cut and polished. They are classified into two groups – ‘precious’ and ‘semi-precious’.

‘Precious’ rock crystals are usually called ‘gemstones’ and include –  diamonds, sapphires, rubies and emeralds. They are mainly used in fine jewellery designs and command high prices due to their extraordinary colour, rarity, fire and sparkle.

‘Semi-precious’ rock crystals are more abundant and do not have fire or sparkle. Semi-precious crystals are of less commercial value than precious crystals. Some examples are clear quartz, amethyst, rose quartz, garnet and aquamarine.

An interesting fact: Amethyst used to be on the precious list until it was reclassified as semi-precious in the nineteenth century after large deposits were found in Brazil and Uruguay.

What is ‘Man-made’ Crystal?

Man-made crystals are called ‘rhinestone crystals’ or ‘diamantés’. Rhinestone crystals are man-made,  created in laboratories. Although they are not natural, they are still referred as ‘crystals,  which is technically incorrect.

Here is a breakdown of the three most popular man-made crystals used in jewellery designs. It’s good to understand what these man made crystals actually are so that when you read my product descriptions on Angela Wozniak Jewellery you know what you are buying and you know what quality you can expect when those earrings or that necklace arrives at your doorstep.

Cubic Zirconia

What is Cubic Zirconia?

Commonly known as CZ, Cubic Zirconia is the most popular man-made diamond substitute. It’s a nice substitute because like diamonds, it is cubic in its crystal formation and omits a fairly similar fire and sparkle when held up to the light. On the Mohs scale of hardness, a genuine diamond is a 10 while cubic zirconia is a 8.5-9.

How is Cubic Zirconia made?

CZ crystals are made by melting powdered zirconium and zirconium dioxide together and heating them up to 4,982ºF. When the heating has been completed, the main crystal is cut into the same shape and design as a diamond. It can also be made in different colours to simulate the different colors of a diamond.

How much does Cubic Zirconia cost?

To the naked untrained eye, a Cubic Zirconia looks just like a diamond, but CZ is much more affordable. While a flawless 1 carat diamond would cost about $10,000, a flawless 1 carat CZ can be purchased from as little as $10 and can go up into the hundreds based on the quality of the CZ. CZs are great for people who want the look of diamonds but want an affordable alternative. If you are looking for the fire and sparkle similar to a diamond then CZ is a quality choice.

Swarvoski Crystal

What is Swarovski Crystal?

Swarovski is a brand of ‘lead glass crystal’ invented by Daniel Swarovski, a glass-cutter born in Bohemia (Czech Republic) in 1862. Swarovski crystals are manmade and are now the standard against which all other lead glass crystals are judged.

Originally, glass crystals were produced with silica (an alkali) and lime. Lead was then added for the very first time by Mr Swarovski, which gave the crystal a better light refraction and hence better fire and sparkle.

In 1892, he then patented an electric cutting machine which allowed the facets to cut with high quality precision. This allowed the Swarovski crystals to refract even more light, hence improving the fire and sparkle that could be seen.

How is Swarovski Crystal made?

Authentic Swarovski crystals are made only in Austria. Silicon oxide powder (glass) is mixed with lead and melted at high temperatures. Today, there are many lead glass crystal manufacturers globally but Swarovski is considered the best in the world because they have the highest lead content (30+%) and the best quality precision cutting machine.

How much does Swarovski Crystal cost?

Swarovski crystals are cheaper than cubic zirconia. This is due to the complicated manufacturing process and materials used in CZ. It’s also worth noting that CZ is more durable than Swarovski Crystals and can be cut with more facets, offering a better light refraction than Swarovski crystals.

Czech Crystals

What is Czech Crystal?

Czech Crystals are also man-made lead glass crystals but they come from manufactures based out of the Czech Republic. Czech crystal production has been in Europe for hundreds of years and European standards demand that, to be called Czech crystal, the crystal must have at least 24% lead content.

Preciosa is a Czech Crystal brand even older than Swarovski and is considered the best brand from the region. Mr Swarovski worked for Preciosa (under its previous name) in the mid-1800’s. He learned all there was to learn about making glass crystals while working at Preciosa and carved out a pretty nice career for himself before moving to Austria during WWII where he started Swarovski.

How is Czech Crystal made?

The Preciosa brand of Czech Crystals are also made from mixing lead with glass and are also machine cut like Swarovski crystals. Though Preciosa Czech Crystals have fewer facets cuts (8 facets versus 12 or 14) than Swarovski crystals, Swarovski crystals are more superior and the brand to beat.

How much does Czech Crystal cost?

Preciosa Czech Crystals are cheaper than Swarovski crystals. Swarovski has the advantage that no one can cut crystal as well as they can. That said, Preciosa Czech Crystals are still beautiful crystals and some colours are even more beautiful and light refracting than the Swarovski crystals.

It’s also worth mentioning, Preciosa is lighter in weight, due to the decreased lead content. Preciosa Czech Crystals are therefore better suited for chandelier style earrings, which can have a lot more crystals in the design.It’s important for earrings to not be too heavy for extended hours of wear.

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