Cubic Zirconium is a man made stone created to imitate diamonds. The colourless variety (it can be made in different colours), is perfectly transparent, highly lustrous and when cut into faceted brilliants and related shapes it has the colour and sparkle of the best quality diamonds. Its good hardness, plus the fact that it is isotropic (that is, being man made, it has uniform physical properties in all directions), means that it can be cut with great precision giving sharp facet edges, again, like those obtainable with diamond.
Because the creation of the stone involves the use of extremely advanced technology, it is at present only produced in the United States, Switzerland and Russia.
The arrival of cubic zirconium on the market caused great consternation in the jewellery trade (for obvious reasons) before reliable techniques were evolved to distinguish between the two. The modern day obsession with diamonds themselves is a relatively recent phenomena. The supposed scarcity and high price of diamonds is more a marketing ploy by the South African and Russian diamond cartels. Indeed it has often been remarked that diamonds in all their forms and grades are perhaps the most plentiful gemstones on the planet after the quartz family! What is undeniable of course is that diamond (pure carbon) is the hardest mineral there is, being a 10 on the hardness scale. A diamond will scratch everything. Only diamond can polish diamond. Until the early 20th century diamond was not the fashion item it is today and it was only the marketing campaign by the De Beers diamond company (“A Diamond is Forever”) in 1948, that began the modern trend. Diamond is the birthstone for April.