Zircon is not Zirconia and there is a lot of mix-ups. In this blog post, we focus on the Zircon, the birthstone of December, together with Turquoise and Tanzanite. The two gems are not the same 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. 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 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 its 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 find also blue and green variations. These 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 gem 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. Its origin is magma, deep down in the earth, what came up in times of eruptions. The crystals are so small, that they could not be used as gemstones, set in a piece of jewelry. But they are so beautiful that scientists in Moskou/Russia try to grow the crystals in a lab and they are successful. These manmade zirconium crystals are called zirconia and 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 a diamond. Although it looks like the most precious gemstone of the world, it is not, but has the brilliance of the diamond (almost).
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 it. Just like in the Hindu poem about the Kalpa tree, that has leaves made of Zircon. The angel that watches the Paradise when Adam and Eve were still there, was called ‘Zircon’. And there was one at the breastplates of the High priest Aaron.
Nice to know:
The name Zircon comes from the Arabic word ‘zarkun’ (red) of the Persian word ‘zargun’ (gold color). And there are mines in Cambodia, Tanzania, Sri Lanka, and Nigeria. It has a special variety: the blue (natural) Raranakiri Zircon, coming from Cambodia, that has the most beautiful ones in the world, according to the experts.
The stone is very very slightly radioactive. It contains a very small amount of radioactive isotopes that turn into a 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 ones found in Western Australia.
It 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:
Best they are not being exposed to light for 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 better not wear your Zircon piece of jewelry to a tanning and nail salon. There they use an overexposure of white and 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.
When you like jewelry and gemstones and want to know more about them and their stories? There is a lot of information and sometimes great offers in my FlorenceJewelshop Secrets. It’s free and you just have to let me know where I can send it too (every 2 weeks).