If you have ever had a favorite piece of jewelry fade over time, then you will probably be all too familiar with the pain and frustration of losing a beautiful piece. It may even impact the type of jewelry you are willing to purchase in the future for fear of wasting or losing an investment in pieces that will fade over time.
This brings us to the following worry: Does cubic zirconia become dull or cloudy with time? If so, how quickly? The answer is yes.
Cubic zirconia does become dull and cloudy with time. In most cases, cubic zirconia will become dull or cloudy in under 2 years. However, with proper care, you may be able to make cubic zirconia rings shine longer. In some extreme cases, you may be able to make it last as long as 10 years.
While these pieces were not made to last forever, by taking proper care of them, you can preserve these jewels for several years! This guide will walk you through the ins and outs of fading cubic zirconia jewelry and what you can do to prevent it from becoming dull and cloudy in the short term.
- Does Cubic Zirconia Tarnish Over Time?
- How Long Does It Take for Cubic Zirconia to Get Cloudy?
- 4 Ways to Keep Cubic Zirconia Clear
- The Lifespan of Cubic Zirconia
- Reasons to Maintain Cubic Zirconia
What is Cubic Zirconia?
Composed of minerals such as zirconium oxide and calcium oxide, this lab grown stone’s brilliant appearance is sustainably produced and the ethical choice in stone selection.
Cubic zirconia isn’t naturally occurring, like other gems; in fact, it’s created in a controlled laboratory setting using a material called zirconium oxide powder.
Although the process can vary a little by the manufacturer, it’s pretty straightforward. The zirconium oxide powder is heated at extreme temperatures — around 5,000 degrees Fahrenheit — along with calcium and magnesium, which work to stabilize it. Crystals form after a few hours and are later polished and cut to the manufacturer’s ideal gem sizes.
It’s due in part to how well it’s made that gives cubic zirconia its reputation as a diamond alternative. The two gems look so alike that even professional jewelers often have a difficult time telling them apart. In order to do so, the gem needs to be magnified and examined closely.
Cubic zirconia is also heavier than diamonds — over 70% heavier. Still, it’s not as durable; diamonds are still ranked higher on the Mohs scale. Many people overlook that durability in favor of cost since cubic zirconia is usually (if not always) much cheaper than a real diamond.
Does Cubic Zirconia Tarnish Over Time?
Like all gems, cubic zirconia will fade over time. While this can happen for a variety of reasons including oxidation, scratches, and contact with body oils, or chemical products, that does not mean there are not steps you can take to slow down the fading process.
Below, we will go in-depth into some of the reasons your synthetic stone may fade over time and what you can do to combat it:
Cubic zirconia tends to scratch easily. Cubic zirconia pieces are not as resilient as diamonds. Although they offer an appearance that is remarkably difficult to distinguish from authentic stones, they are far more susceptible to being damaged against hard surfaces.
For this reason, it is crucial that you remove your jewelry before doing anything that can result in the surface becoming scuffed or blemished.
While high-quality cubic zirconia is unlikely to oxidize, lower-quality stones or bands of poor materials may be subject to oxidation which can result in discoloration or tarnishing of your jewelry. To help prevent this from happening, it is important to select the highest quality materials when selecting your band and stone.
We recommend checking out this cubic zirconia grading guide to see how these imitation gems are rated to ensure you are selecting a piece with the highest quality jewel:
Body oils and chemicals
Cubic zirconia can react with body oils, sweat, and other chemicals, all of which can reduce the appearance of your ring over time. To ensure you are preserving your stone for several years, be sure to take it off when exercising, showering, or working with harsh chemicals.
Now that you know what types of activities and substances can lead to your cubic zirconia ring becoming dull or cloudy over time, let’s take a look at how long it takes for one of these synthetic stones to fade and what you can do to slow down the process.
How Long Does It Take for Cubic Zirconia to Get Cloudy?
Cubic Zirconia rings can become cloudy in a relatively short amount of time (under 10 years) if not taken care of properly. This means not removing the pieces when showering, gardening, or hitting up the gym.
Your ring’s lifespan can also be reduced when it interacts with low quality bands or when it is itself of a low quality. While higher production pieces of cubic zirconia will not contain materials like copper, the lowest grades of cubic zirconia often do.
As a result, these pieces will fade much more quickly and might have some unfortunate side effects, including green lines around your finger from a copper reaction.
You can further speed up the damage of your ring by using the wrong techniques for cleaning. In particular, harsh chemicals and soaps can have a lasting and damaging impact on your stone.
Some other potentially destructive cleaning methods include baking your piece in the oven. While there are claims that this method can help remove the cloudy and dull appearance of cubic zirconia stones, the reality is that it may turn your gem a dark brown color. Or, worse, it may shatter your stone completely.
The best way to avoid premature cloudiness and fading in your ring is by taking good care of it and avoiding activities that will speed up the dulling process. While these synthetic stones were not designed to last forever, there are ways that you can help extend their life span to gain the most use and enjoyment out of your pieces.
Check out this next section for some insider tips into keeping your cubic zirconia jewelry clear for a long time.
4 Ways to Keep Cubic Zirconia Clear
As you read in the previous section, cubic zirconia will not last forever. But that does not mean there aren’t steps you can take to help preserve the life of the beautiful synthetic gems.
Keep reading to learn how to clean these imitation stones along with three other steps you can take to keep these pieces around for years to come.
Proper Cleaning of Cubic Zirconia
Proper care and cleaning of your cubic zirconia piece is essential to keeping the cloudy and dull appearance at bay. While you may have heard of baking as a method of cleaning your stone, we do not recommend such harsh techniques as it can lead to significant discoloration or the shattering of your beloved jewel.
For the best way to clean the stone, we recommend mild soap and a gentle cleansing technique. The band’s cleaning will depend upon the quality of material. With a higher quality band, such as real gold or silver, you will want to use a proper jewelry cleaner. Otherwise, stick to gentle cleansers to maintain the appearance of your piece.
Don’t expose to body oils or harsh substances
One of the most common reasons for this cloudiness is actually contacted with substances. It doesn’t matter how often you shower; human bodies naturally produce oils and these oils can affect your gem’s shine.
At the same time, you don’t want to wash your hands if you’re wearing a ring with cubic zirconia; always remove it prior and try not to get it wet. Even a gentle soap safe enough to clean cubic zirconia can make the gem dull if it’s not completely removed.
Be sure not to wear your jewelry during strenuous activities
Remember that cubic zirconia is less resilient to scuffs and blemishes than its diamond counterpart. As such, it is crucial that it not be put in harms away against rough surfaces.
Further, your body’s natural oils and sweat that are produced during strenuous activities can lead to a change in the appearance of your stone over time. For preservation reasons, we recommend taking your stones off before any of the above activities.
Finally, while we know how much you love the brilliant fire of these stones, be sure not to do overdo the cleaning and polishing process when preserving its radiance.
We recommend only cleaning when necessary (usually about 1x per month) and only with the right materials for your band type.
That means only washing your stone with a gentle cleanser and not polishing the band with a jewelry cleaner if the band is of a lower-quality material. Now that you know what causes cubic zirconia to fade and what you can do to slow down the process, let’s take a look at the overall longevity of these stones.
The Lifespan of Cubic Zirconia
On average, it’ll take about two years for it to become cloudy, but depending on how you take care of it, it could dull faster or slower.
Beyond using mild cleansers and only purchasing cubic zirconia that is graded with the highest quality materials, you can also coat your ring with rhodium to add to its lifespan.
Let’s Extend the Life of Your Cubic Zirconia Ring:
Lengthen the lifespan of your cubic zirconia ring by protecting it from scratches and other harsh substances through a rhodium coating.
This type of plating creates a white reflective appearance that is durable enough to withstand many of the scratches that would otherwise occur to your manufactured stone.
While rhodium is a member of the platinum family and is more resilient than gold, it cannot fully protect your ring from any naturally occurring fade.
That said, this plating can extend the lifespan of your ring by several years. If you go this route, be sure to never clean your stone with silver liquid cleaner as this type of jewelry cleanser is too harsh and will potentially damage the coating.
Reasons to Maintain Cubic Zirconia
Because cubic zirconia has an expiration date so to speak, proper maintenance for this type of jewelry is extra important. Why go through the trouble of buying such a gorgeous diamond alternative if you’re not planning to take care of it?
For starters, maintaining cubic zirconia is a more budget-friendly choice, especially if you’ve chosen that gemstone over a diamond.
While the price point and environmentally friendly features make cubic zirconia the practical choice, it is still important to maintain them over time. The longer you can preserve these beautiful pieces, the more likely you are to wear and love them through the years.
Though you will need to combat the effects of oxidation, scratch marks, and cloudiness, there are several simple steps you can take to keep them beautiful, including:
- Gentle cleansing techniques with mild soaps
- High-quality bands that are resistant to fading (gold, sterling silver, or platinum)
- Removing before strenuous activity or before interacting with harsh cleaners
- Plating with rhodium, a strong metal that is a member of the platinum family
While cubic zirconia will naturally fade over time (potentially in as little as 10 years), that does not mean you cannot work to preserve them for longer.