Types of Crystals – Cubic Zirconia vs Swarovski vs Czech Crystal

What Is Crystal?

Customers come to Angela Wozniak Jewellery searching for crystal jewellery, but what is unclear is if they are searching for natural crystals formed by the earth 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 'crystal' is broadly used for both natural and man-made. What matters is understanding the differences when shopping (read the product description) and ensuring your expectations are met when buying the crystal jewellery online that you want.

At Angela Wozniak Jewellery, I use a combination of natural and man-made crystals in my jewellery designs.

I use Swarovski crystals within my Birthstone Jewellery Collection. T
he April Birthstone studs below are designed with Swarovski crystals .

Diamond Studs April Birthstone

April Birthstone Diamond Studs with Swarovski Crystals


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’.

The ‘Precious’ type are called ‘gemstones’ and the 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.

The ‘Semi-precious’ rock crystals are more abundant (not rare) and therefore have less commercial value and are much more affordable. Some examples are Clear Quartz, Amethyst, Rose Quartz, Citrine, Peridot.

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?

Cubic Zirconia, Swarovski & Czech Crystal are all man-made crystal, created in laboratories. Although they are not natural, they are still referred as 'crystals', which is technically incorrect. Also, be aware that man-made crystals can also be referred to as ‘rhinestones’ or ‘diamantés’. 

It’s good to understand what these man-made crystals actually are so that when you read my product descriptions on Angela Wozniak Jewellery or from another shop 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

Kira Rainbow Huggie Earrings with Cubic Zirconia Crystals


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. The product on top and the one below are both made with cubic zirconia: although less expensive, their sparkle is most similar to the one of diamonds.

North Star Crystal Necklace with Cubic Zirconia Crystals


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.

Cross Duo Ring with Cubic Zirconia Crystals

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

Purity Tiny Crystal Necklace with Swarovski 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. Coloured Swarovski Crystal is often used to replicate many types of precious and semi-precious stones such as the combination of diamond and aquamarine below.

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. You can check for yourself that Swarovski crystals, although magnificent, are affordable by checking the prices of  my Birthstone Jewellery collection: our luxe-for-less designs are made with 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.


Excellent explanations! Thank you for clearly up any confusion we might have.

Barbara August 06, 2022

Thank you for such great info. I’ve always wondered about the crystal differences for over 30 years and this breaks them all down.
Actually thought that Czech cr f ystal was heavier…lessons every day.

Dee August 06, 2022

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