Diamond or Cubic Zirconia?

The blog is inspired by Javetta Fleury.


“Be yourself, but always your better self.”–Karl G. Maeser

Women are born to love, but most of that love is focused externally. We find many people worthy of love in our lives, but very few of us find ourselves as worthy of that same love and acceptance. I know from experience; my journey to authentic self-worth started much later than I wish it had. So when I was given an opportunity to develop my own after school program for a group of inner-city girls, I knew exactly what I wanted to do.

I had a vision: to equip young girls with a sense of value of each other and themselves. Together, we would foster healthy relationships, provide wider cultural exposure and promote professional and personal skills that would empower them to make the best choices for their future. I called the program “Diamonds.”

Why diamonds? Diamonds are the strongest stones on Earth. The ancient Greeks named them “adamas,” meaning “invincible,” “indestructible” and “untamed.” Greek warriors wore them into battle, believing that they made them stronger. Diamonds also symbolize purity; it’s a rare and powerful combination that seems to me uniquely feminine. No wonder diamonds have been valued as a symbol of eternal love for centuries

True diamonds are valuable, precious, and come in a variety of colors. They’re valued because of their rarity. They also have imperfections; it’s what makes them the real deal. They also reflect light – their brilliance is an important part of their beauty. The Persian poet Hafiz wrote, “the rainbow is confined in a diamond forever.” Each diamond is unique, formed from its interaction with the earth.

In the Diamonds program, I began by instilling in the girls some core values that we would live by in order to claim our true diamond nature.

    • Hard Work: I shine at home, at school, and in my community.
    • Hands Off: I am too valuable to allow just anyone access to heart, my body or mind.
    • Cultured: I am a woman of the world. I am open to new people and experiences; I am not afraid to explore a world that is different from my own and what I already know.
    • Disciplined: I have control of my emotions, my behavior, and my destiny. I am slow to anger and quick to listen to others who may have a different point of view or hard-won wisdom to share.

In learning how to become a true diamond, the girls also explore what makes a false diamond. Cubic Zirconia looks like a diamond but is far less valuable. A Cubic Zirconia is synthetic, manufactured by man. It’s visually flawless yet colorless, perfect without being real. Cubic Zirconia hasn’t been through the crucible to make them strong; they’re engineered to be used. And while diamonds are thermal conductors, cubic zirconia are thermal insulators. They block warmth, instead of passing it on to others.

As a homework assignment, I asked the girls to go any store that sells real and costume jewelry together; they were to come back to the group and tell me what they discovered about diamonds and cubic zirconia.

The girls could see that diamonds, even the smallest, and even at an inexpensive store, are always under lock and key. They discovered the key was not accessible to just anyone; even employees at the store had to ask a special associate for the key. You had to have permission to see a diamond outside the glass case – and to get permission, you had to look like you had serious (and honorable) intent.

Some of the girls noticed that diamonds are displayed against a beautiful backdrop that showed off their brilliance. Some stated that a special box was provided and buyers were offered insurance for diamonds because of their worth.

When asked about the cubic zirconia, they reported that they seemed ordinary, unimportant, and having little value compared to the diamonds. They were usually displayed on a shelf, stacked side by side with other gems just like them. There was no special process to see them, touch them, or try them on. No one watched over them as they handled the jewelry. There was no special packaging for them, and you could pay for them at any register. Their worth (or lack of it) was obvious because of the indifference of the staff. No one was truly invested in the fate of a cubic zirconia.

We are all diamonds when we’re born: precious, unique, and valuable gems, destined to be strong, rare, and valuable. But over time, we become what we choose to value. If you’d rather be visually perfect, but common and cheap, you’ll find plenty of buyers. But you won’t be handled with reverence. You won’t have a guardian assigned to make sure that the people who want to handle you are serious and honorable and understand your value. Being kept under lock and key (by our parents, for example) can feel like a prison sentence. Or it can make you feel like a precious treasure that someone has to earn the right to touch.

Owners of valuable gems often make cheap copies to wear in public. Most people they meet aren’t smart enough – and don’t care enough – to know the difference between a diamond and a cubic zirconia. But we have the choice to be valuable or cheap. And we, on the inside, know the difference.

Which do you choose?



by Candace Moody and  Javetta Fleury