Zircon: Earth’s Ancient Gemstone
Zircon stands as one of the planet’s most ancient minerals, with the earliest discovered zircons dating back an astonishing 4.46 million years, primarily sourced from Western Australia. The name ‘zircon’ is believed to be derived from the Persian term ‘zargun’, translating to ‘gold-colored’. However, zircon’s palette is not limited to just one shade; it boasts a spectrum of vibrant colors. Over time, zircon’s reputation has been overshadowed due to its confusion with cubic zirconia, a synthetic gem. It’s essential to note that these two are entirely distinct entities. Celebrating December birthdays? Blue Zircon is the gemstone for you.
In its purest form, zircon is colorless, with its captivating array of colors resulting from various impurities. Historically, colorless zircon was the initial alternative to diamonds, sharing a similar lustrous appeal. However, unlike diamonds, zircons tend to show wear along their facet edges over time. Among the zircon shades, blue is the most coveted, closely followed by red. Zircons are also categorized by specific color terms: ‘hyacinth’ for yellow to red-brown zircons, ‘jargon’ for straw-yellow to near colorless, and ‘starlight’ for the greenish-blue variety, typically achieved through heating.
Zircon’s global footprint spans across various regions, including Australia, Brazil, Cambodia, Korea, Madagascar, Mozambique, Myanmar (Burma), Nigeria, Sri Lanka (Ceylon), Tanzania, Thailand, and Vietnam.
Properties and Enhancements
With a durability rating of 7.5 on the Mohs scale, zircon is fairly resilient.
To enhance its appearance, brown zircons often undergo heat treatment, transforming them into the more sought-after colorless and blue varieties. However, this transformation isn’t always permanent, with ultraviolet rays (like sunlight) potentially altering the gem’s hue.
Lab-Created and Simulants
While there’s no lab-created counterpart for zircon, there’s a common misconception that equates it with cubic zirconia. Cubic zirconia is a man made material that has completely different properties than natural zircon.