Zircon - Almost a Diamond
One of the most historically important gemstones in the world, and which has more colors that any other naturally occurring stone is Zircon. This is a valuable gem, which unfortunately is considered to be the cheap version of the diamond; there will be more about this unfortunate comparison later. Pure zircon is colorless in nature, and this is why it is affected by impurities which bring about the various colors that it is found in. There are some impurities which are radioactive, and they undergo what is known as Metamicton, where the inner crystal structure of the zircon becomes destroyed. The radioactivity is very small and cannot be hazardous to health; in order to stabilize the radioactive materials and avoid the destruction of the crystals the zircon is heat-treated. All forms of Zircon are usually treated to heat so that they can exhibit their various colors and to increase their transparency.
Use and care of zircon for jewelry purposes
Unlike any other natural gemstone zircon resembles diamond to a remarkable level. This is a stone that has a lot of fire and luster and this makes it shine and sparkle just like a diamond would. From a commoner’s standpoint, zircon is the cheap imitation for diamonds, but this is not true. The cheap imitation is known as Cubic Zirconia, and it is created in a laboratory Zircon, on the other hand, is a naturally occurring gemstone. The main distinction between zircon and diamond can be found in the lower hardness of zircon, and the fact that it exhibits a double refraction of light.
Zircon is a desirable gem thanks to its favorable hardness, its variety of colors, and the brilliant fire and patina. However unlike other gemstones, zircon has a number of undesirable traits. One of the most prominent is the fact that some zircons will lose their sheen and also darken in color when they are exposed to sunlight for long. Fortunately this is a trait that can be reversed by giving the zircon a second heat treatment. Another characteristic that is not desirable is the fact that zircon cracks and chips if it is hit too hard. This means that it has to be cut carefully so as not to destroy the facets as they are created. In order to bring out the beauty of zircon, the double refraction has to be minimized, and this requires careful cutting along the proper angles. If they are not properly faceted the zircon will appear blurry thanks to the double refraction of light.
The most unfortunate characteristic of zircon is not because of any structural fault of its own. This is simply the assumptions of human beings. Most people think that zircon is just like Cubic Zirconia. Cubic zirconia s synthetic; it is a stimulated product which resembles a diamond and this allows people to give gifts that look like diamond but cost a lot less. Cubic zirconia and zircon look alike, but there ends their similarity. They are different substances, and their similarity is brought about due to the fact that they both have the element zirconium in their chemical structure.
Some history about Zircon
The Kalpa Tree, which is the best gift that the gods ever gave to the Hindu, is said to glow due to the fact that it bore gemstone fruits and had leaves of zircon; this is what the Hindu poets say. When it comes to supporting other popular gemstones, zircon always plays a wonderful supporting role, and if any of these well-known gemstones are not available in the act, then zircon becomes the perfect understudy so the story can continue.
Taking a journey into the middle ages you find that zircon was valued as a stone that brought prosperity, honor and wisdom to the wearer; it was also said to help in sleeping. Although zircon comes in a wide variety of colors, the name comes, probably, from the Persian word “Zargun, which is translated to “gold-colored”. Now this may be due to the fact that they valued the yellow zircon known as Jacinth.
A little more about this wonderful and variable stone
Many people are unaware of the natural stone called zircon and usually take it to be the lab-grown diamond imitation called cubic zirconia. However, the natural zircon occurs in a variety of colors, even though the most popular is the colorless one. The fact that the stone has a lot of brilliance and light dispersion makes it perfect for taking the place of diamonds, for those who would like expensive-looking jewelry, without having to pay a small fortune for it.
The most popular zircon is the blue zircon, and it is said to be like an aquamarine, the birthstone of December. Ideally, a beautiful aquamarine has a bright blue color, and this is the reason why the bright blue zircon stones are so popular; unfortunately, the most available blue zircon has a pastel blue color. You can also find zircon in dark red, like a dark ruby; green like a sapphires; orange, yellow and brown.
You can mainly find zircon in Australia, Myanmar Sri Lanka Cambodia and Thailand; there are other countries where you can find deposits of zircon, but in much smaller deposits.
A Zircon gemstone looks a lot smaller than other gemstones of the same weight because it is one of the heaviest gemstones on earth. Although it has a heavy weight, it is also somewhat fragile, and has to be stored carefully to avoid chipping of the facets. Zircon is relatively hard but its structure chips off very easily. When being transported, each stone is carefully wrapped in paper to avoid any damage from striking against each other.
Zircon is somewhat rare, and if you combine this with the various colors that it comes in, and the relatively lower cost then you have a stone which many collectors will be looking for. It is a challenge for the collectors to get as many colors as possible, without having to have two if the same color.
What are the varieties of zircon?
The true value of zircon gemstones
- Jargon – This is a variety of zircon that is characterized by its pale patina. It is found in colorless, gray and yellow varieties.
- Matura diamond – this is the zircon that really resembles the diamond.
- Starlite – This is a zircon variety with a color that rare occurs naturally; blue. The blue starlite zircons are usually those derived from heat treating the stone.
- Jacinth – This is a zircon variety which has stones that are red, brown, orange and yellow in color. In the past, Jacinth was closely associated with hyacinth even though these are terms that are no longer used in gemology. The two names go back into the days of the bible. Hyacinth was used to describe orange or brown topaz, and this is where the association came in.
The value of all gemstones lies, primarily in the intensity of their color its saturation; other factors such as carat size and clarity are usually secondary. Zircons which are used for gem purposes are clean when looked at trough the naked eye. The blue and colorless zircons are classified as type I gems, since they are always clean when looked at through the eye; there are no inclusions visible. All the other zircons are classified as type II gems because you can see the inclusions when you look at them through the eye. Type II gems still retain a lot of beauty even if you can see the inclusions through the naked eye. The fact that blue zircons are the most sought-after ensures that they are the most highly-priced zircons.