In this blog post, we focus on the Zircon, the birthstone of December, together with Turquoise and Tanzanite. Zircon is not Zirconia and do you know why? Zircon is a very intriguing gemstone that can be found everywhere in the world, but it is so small that you hardly see it. But when you find a nugget big enough for your eyes, you have to blink them a few times, because of the beauty of this gem. The Zirconia is a manmade stone. Let us see why the Zircon is so special!
What does the Zircon look like?
Zircon has no color or is yellowish (called Hyacinth) or red to brown: the colors champagne, coffee, cognac, gold, green, honey, orange are also there in the Zircon spectrum. The gemstone is transparent and the brilliance looks like the diamond. It is sometimes called ‘the poor man’s diamond’. On the market you can find also blue and green zircons: those are colorless zircons that are heated up to 1000 degrees for some hours and then they turn out blue or green.
The Zircon is strong double-breaking. This means that when a beam of light falls on the Zircon it divides into two beams. When you look at it you see that the facets double. This effect can give some extra brilliance, but also a great sparkling mosaic pattern and optical depth.
Zircon is not Zirconia.
Zircon and Zirconia are both made of zirconium, that is why their names look similar. But that is all they have in common. Zirconia was discovered in 1937 and its origin is magma, deep down in the earth, what came up in times of eruptions. The zirconium crystals are so small, that they could not be used as gemstones, set in a piece of jewelry. But they were so beautiful that scientists in Moskou/Russia tried to grow the zirconium crystals in a lab and they were successful. These manmade zirconium crystals were called zirconia and were used as a substitute for diamonds.
On the scale of Mohs, the Zircon has a hardness of 7.5 and is difficult to polish, since the Zircon breaks easily. The Zirconia has a hardness of 8.5 and resembles more to the diamond in this matter, which has a hardness of 10 on the scale of Mohs.
The Zirconia can be made in every color and shape and is very much loved by the designers in the fashion industry. It is less expensive than Zirkon and a lot less expensive as diamond. Although it looks like the most precious gemstone of the world, it is not, but has the brilliance of the diamond (almost).
Zircon has a long history
The Zircon is being found in the graves one of the oldest excavations in the world. And there are a few very old documents that mention the Zircon, like in the Hindu poem about the Kalpa tree, that has leaves made of Zircon. And the angel that watches the Paradise when Adam and Eve were still there, was called ‘Zircon’. And there was a Zircon om the breastplate of the Highpriest Aaron. And there are many more.
Nice to know the Zircon:
- the name Zircon comes from the Arabic word ‘zarkun’ (red) of the Persian word ‘zargun’ (gold color)
- there are Zircon mines in Cambodia, Tanzania, Sri Lanka and Nigeria
- the Zircon has a special variety: the blue (natural) Raranakiri Zircon, coming from Cambodia, that has the most beautiful Zircons of the world, according to the experts
- the Zircon is very very lightly radioactive. It contains a very small amount of radioactive isotopes that turn into lead, during a time. Experts know how long this process takes and by measuring the amount of lead, they know how old the rock is, where they found the Zircon in. The oldest minerals on earth are the Zircons found in Western Australia
- the Zircon is a mineral that you will find everywhere, but you can hardly see it since it has an average size of 0,000 001 meters to 0,000 003 meters. And sometimes they find nuggets of a few centimeters and they are used (when they have the right quality) for making pieces of jewelry
How to take care of the Zircon:
Zircons should not be exposed to light too long. When they are treated with light to get another color, they can get their natural color, which is probably colorless. For the same reason, you should not wear your Zircon piece of jewelry to a tanning and nail salon, where they use an overexposure of white of blue light.
FlorenceJewelshop does not make pieces of jewelry with Zircon. They are not cut and polished into beads because they break so easily and you need a lot of material to get one bead. And that bead will be fragile and very expensive. But that does not mean I like them and you will too.
Hug Florence from FlorenceJewelshop