What It Costs
If only genuine diamonds will do for you, you can expect to shell out a few thousand or even much more for a small, nice quality stone. But it you decide to go with a cubic zirconia instead, the same ring can be found for a fraction of the cost. Jewelers say that you can find similar quality cubics for about a tenth or even less of what you would pay for traditional diamonds.
While diamonds are measured by carat weight, cubic zirconias are actually much heavier than diamonds, so they are not sold by their actual weight (which is about 50 to 75 percent heavier than a similarly sized diamond) but instead, but by their “carat equivalent” to diamonds. The grade of cubic zirconias also affects their price. You can find cubics in three grades: A (low), AAA(middle) and AAAAA (highest). The middle grade is what you will find in most jewelry pieces, as this is a beautiful-looking stone that is still very affordable.
The lowest quality cubic zirconia jewelry pieces in the least expensive electroplated settings start at under $10 for a ring, necklace, earrings or bracelet and go up from there. You can expect to pay about $100 or less for middle of the road cubic zirconia items that are set in sterling, vermeil, titanium and tungsten. The best quality stones in 14 or 18 karat gold or platinum can cost from several hundred dollars for a on up to about $1,000 or even more, depending on the size and design you select. It is worth noting, though, that some experts say that the going rate for well cut loose cubics should be about $100 a carat, and spending any more than that per carat doesn’t make sense. (However, when other gemstones, such as genuine sapphire, emerald or ruby are incorporated into the design, the price and value goes up accordingly.)
So you can expect to spend anywhere from $10 to $1,000 for a cubic zirconia piece of jewelry, with an average price of about $100 or less a carat for very good quality stones.
If you plan to invest in a nice quality cubic zirconia piece, you may also to consider the other synthetic diamond substitutes available today before making your purchase. Some people like moissanite, which is a lab-created stone that is popular today. The downside, though, is that it costs more than cubic zirconias (about $500 a carat) and some experts say that it does not have the same fire. You may also want to look into Diamond Nexus. This man-made stone is a relatively new option that can be very comparable to a cubic zirconia both in look and also in price.