Cubic zirconias, also known as CZs, are synthetic crystals produced at a fraction of the cost of diamonds. When set in jewelry, CZs gleam more brilliantly than crystal or glass, and they rival diamonds for their strength and durability. Unlike diamonds, which almost always have defects, CZs are flawless. Available in many colors, when CZs are set in platinum, gold or silver, they can substitute for other gemstones such as sapphires, emeralds, rubies and topaz.
What Makes CZs Dull?
•Everyday substances like soap, body lotion, perfume, hairspray, makeup and even perspiration can build up over time and dull a CZ's brilliance. The stones should also never come in contact with harsh household cleaning chemicals like bleach or ammonia. Even elevated chlorine and the sanitizing chemicals found in many hot tubs and swimming pools can rob CZs of their luster.
•Jewelers use high-pressure steam to clean CZs, but for most stones, it's overkill. You can get professional-looking results cleaning your stones at home. Before you start, check to make sure the CZ is firmly anchored in its setting. If it's cleaned infrequently, accumulated dirt between the stone and the setting can loosen the stone.
If you can wiggle the stone with a toothpick, you need to take it to a jeweler for repair before you clean it. If the stone is firm, use a soft-bristled brush to reach into the setting's nooks and crannies. An old toothbrush works well. Soak it in a liquid jewelry cleaner for gemstones, or mix your own solution of warm water and mild liquid dishwashing soap. Cover the sink drain in case you drop the piece, then thoroughly rinse the CZ in warm water. Immediately dry it with a soft, lint-free cloth. If the stone still looks dull, let it soak it for a few hours in warm water and dishwashing soap, then brush, rinse and dry again.
•Remove your CZs before showering, performing your daily grooming ritual or cleaning house. CZs and their settings get scratched and damaged by clanking against other jewelry, so store your pieces as carefully as you would diamonds--in cloth bags or a fabric-lined jewelry case. Never expose your CZ pieces to abrasive substances such as exfoliants or household cleansers, because they will scratch the setting and make the whole piece look dull.
If you wear your CZ every day, cleaning it at least once a week will keep it looking like new for many years.
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