Cubic zirconia is an attractive and affordable alternative to real diamonds. One significant question jewelry wearers have about cubic zirconia is whether it turns green.
Although cheaper jewelry has a reputation for turning green and even causing skin discoloration, you don’t need to worry about cubic zirconia. Authentic cubic zirconia will not turn green. Read on to learn why cubic zirconia is a premium synthetic gem that will not tarnish.
So, Does Cubic Zirconia Turn Green?
No, cubic zirconia does not turn green. Inexpensive jewelry is often associated with discoloration, whether it’s the jewelry itself turning green or a skin reaction from cheap materials. However, it’s wrong to assume that all affordable jewelry will have these issues.
Various factors can cause jewelry to turn green or another color. One possibility is that the costume jewelry is painted a color or coated with a metallic, and the change in hue is merely a result of the top layer chipping away.
Synthetic gems in costume jewelry can also age and appear cloudy or discolored. Discoloration from age is the most likely reason that cubic zirconia would appear green. In this scenario, clean your cubic zirconia to regain the original tint.
Cubic zirconia is not at risk of truly turning green, or turning your skin green, because the material does not tarnish. To better understand why cubic zirconia won’t tarnish and turn green, it helps to learn a little about the chemical process of oxidation.
Oxidation of Jewelry
Metal jewelry can turn green or cause skin discoloration through the oxidation process. Essentially, oxidation is any process where a material has a chemical reaction to oxygen. When metals interact with oxygen, corrosive substances called metal oxides form. These metal oxides will coat the outside of the metal object and wear down the surface. We usually call this rusting or tarnishing.
Cubic zirconia is not a metal, and it will not oxidize. If green rust develops around your cubic zirconia, it’s related to the metal setting and chain. You can avoid cubic zirconia jewelry that turns green by checking the kind of metal it’s made with before purchasing it.
The only metals that don’t oxidize are precious metals, such as gold, silver, or platinum. When purchasing a piece of jewelry, look for a stamp indicating the metal type. If it denotes a karat amount, it is likely a precious metal. You can also look for a label that says 925, which means 925 sterling silver.
Since inexpensive jewelry is less likely to feature precious metals, it is more likely to tarnish. Different metals will react to oxygen to varying extents and may last a while before they develop tarnish. The primary metal you need to avoid is copper, which turns a distinctive green when it oxidizes. Metal alloys such as brass and bronze also contain copper and have a higher risk of turning green.
Oxidized metal can also impact your skin, covering it with a green color. Green skin from jewelry is not a serious condition, only a stain from the metal oxide mixing with your sweat. Your skin should return to normal after you wash it with soap.
What Is Cubic Zirconia?
Cubic zirconia is a synthetic crystal made from zirconium dioxide. Zirconium is a soft, gray metal that produces a white substance when oxidized. After this white substance is crystallized, it forms a gem with a remarkable similarity to a diamond. With an eye-catching sparkle and sturdy hardness, cubic zirconia is the go-to synthetic stone for costume jewelry.
You can make cubic zirconia in a wide range of colors based on the chemicals you add during the production process. In addition to clear, common cubic zirconia colors include yellow, red, and, yes, even green.
Benefits of Cubic Zirconia
Cubic zirconia is an excellent jewelry choice for several reasons. Despite the low cost, cubic zirconia offers many of the qualities you would look for in a precious gemstone.
Going back to the central concern of discoloration, cubic zirconia is typically flawless, with no abnormalities or fogginess. As cubic zirconia ages, it will not turn green or any other strange color, unlike lower-quality fake gems.
Due to the material’s durability and affordability, you can have a large collection of cubic zirconia jewelry. Moreover, you can regularly wear cubic zirconia without worrying about damage or theft in the way you would with precious stones. Plus, cubic zirconia has a natural sparkle that rivals real gemstones. Some people may even prefer the sparkle of cubic zirconia, which has a multicolored rainbow appearance.
Cubic Zirconia Versus Diamonds
Unless you’re an expert, most cubic zirconia will look indistinguishable from diamonds. Both substances are hard, clear stones that refract light.
Overall, cubic zirconia is more iridescent and less likely to have chips or cracks when compared to a diamond. Also, since cubic zirconia is a manufactured product, it won’t have imperfections.
In terms of hardness, diamonds are slightly higher on the Mohs scale. That said, cubic zirconia is still extremely durable and is unlikely to break.
Finally, the origins and context of the two materials matter a great deal to some consumers. While real diamonds can be connected to conflict and human rights abuses, cubic zirconia is made in a lab and is unlikely to have a troubled backstory.
How To Care for Cubic Zirconia
Cubic zirconia will never turn green, but it is still susceptible to wear and tear. With a few easy habits, you can keep your cubic zirconia jewelry shiny and damage-free.
Wearing Cubic Zirconia
You can wear cubic zirconia jewelry throughout the day, but there are a few activities and environments that you should avoid. Cubic zirconia can get wet occasionally, but you shouldn’t put it in water all the time. The minerals in your local water could potentially corrode cubic zirconia after prolonged exposure.
You should also take off cubic zirconia rings, bracelets, and necklaces before using household cleaners. Strong chemicals in cleaners can damage the stone or the metal setting. It’s also best to take your jewelry off before exercising, playing sports, or any other intense physical activity.
Cleaning Cubic Zirconia
Keep your cubic zirconia clear and bright by cleaning it regularly. You can clean your cubic zirconia with a soft, gentle cloth. Look for fabric that won’t scratch, such as a microfiber cloth. There’s no need to use a special cleanser—stay away from harsh chemicals and stick with soap and water.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about cubic zirconia.
Does cubic zirconia change colors?
Cubic zirconia does not change color. It can have a rainbow effect when glistening in the light, but it won’t change color from oxidation or damage. If your cubic zirconia appears to have changed color, it is most likely dirty and needs a good cleaning with a non-corrosive soap.
How long does cubic zirconia last?
Cubic zirconia can last a very long time if you take care of it properly. With proper care, cubic zirconia can last for over ten years when wearing it every day. If you only wear your jewelry occasionally, cubic zirconia can last close to a lifetime.
What is the highest quality cubic zirconia?
Cubic zirconia is rated on a letter system, with the highest quality rating of AAAAA. The lowest rating is AB. The harder and more clear the cubic zirconia, the higher its letter rating. Most cubic zirconia that you see in jewelry is AAA cubic zirconia, but you can also invest in finer jewelry from upscale brands that’s made with AAAAA cubic zirconia.
Does Cubic Zirconia Turn Green? Closing Thoughts
Cubic zirconia is an excellent jewelry choice if you want a low-cost gemstone that will not tarnish over time. As long as the cubic zirconia is set in precious metal, such as sterling silver or gold, you do not need to worry about it rusting or turning your skin green.
With so many beautiful cubic zirconia colors and styles, there’s no reason not to incorporate this form of high-quality costume jewelry into your wardrobe.