Whilst not well-known, Zircon is in fact one of the world’s most important gemstones. It is frequently confused with the synthetic, lab-grown simulant for diamond – cubic zirconia – even though zircon is a naturally-found substitute for diamond. Adding to the disorder is the fact that zircon was misleadingly marketed as ‘Matura diamond’ for a time.
Colourless Zircon is revered for its evocatively named ‘fire’ – its flashes of multi-coloured light. Alongside with its brilliance, this property of Zircon is the basis of the comparisons to diamond, and makes it a firm favorite of collectors around the globe.
COLOUR, CLARITY & CUT
Zircon its most pure form, transparent and if colour is found it is due to small impurities – which can create violet, orange, red, green, yellow, blue and many other colours. Of these, Blue Zircon Stones are admired, yet its colour is attained by the heating of Brown Zircon.
Furthermore, some crystals contain harmless radioactive elements which break down the structure of the gem to form ‘Low Zircon’, which are prized by collectors for their rarity.
Whilst colourless Zircon is often cut ‘brilliant’ (as with diamonds), coloured gems can also be found in an Emerald step cut. If the stone is found round, it can be given its namesake ‘Zircon cut’, which boasts an extra row of facets around the edges of the standard round brilliant cut. These shapes aside, the most prevalent forms include rounds, pears, ovals and fancy trillions, and when polished, these stones show a fantastic, vitreous sheen.
ZIRCON GEMSTONE PROPERTIES:
|Chemical Formula:||ZrSiO4; Zirconium silicate|
|Crystal Structure:||(Tetragonal), short, stocky, four-sided prisms with pyramidal ends|
|Color:||Colorless, yellow, brown, orange, red violet, blue, green|
|Hardness:||6.5 to 7.5 on the Mohs scale|
|Refractive Index:||1.810 to 2.024|
|Density:||3.93 to 4.73|
|Transparency:||Transparent to translucent|
|Double Refraction or Birefringence:||0.002 to 0.059|
|Luster:||Vitreous, waxy to dull|
|Fluorescence:||Blue: very weak; light-orange, red and brown: weak, dark-yellow|
Whilst Green Zircon is extremely rare and characteristically expensive, it is the Pure Blue Gems which fetch the highest prices in today’s market.
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ORIGINS & IMITATIONS
This gem is in fact the Earth’s oldest known mineral ; as it was the first gem to form as molten granite cooled and become the rock of the Earth’s crust. The oldest samples are found in Australia, and are 4.4 billion years old – making them older than our moon(formed a mere 4 billion years ago)
Whilst Sri Lanka houses the most world-regarded deposits for ‘low’ zircon specimens can be sourced from Brazil, Cambodia, Madagascar, Myanmar, Tanzania, Vietnam and the aforementioned Australia.
NAME, FAME AND LEGEND
Researchers believe zircon owes its name to ‘zargun’– the Persian word for ‘gold-coloured’, though throughout time it has been given many names including ‘jacinth’ and ‘hyacinth’.
Zircon has been loved since times of antiquity and the Middle Ages when it was said to bring about sleep, prosperity, honor and wisdom. In addition, the Hindu poets talked of the ultimate gift to the gods – the “kalpa tree”– covered in a plenitude of gems including Zircon.