The King Of Colors
Although Zircon has not historically been a well known gemstone it is now becoming more popular because of its great range of color. It can be mistaken for cubic zirconia, a synthetic material, however, true zircon gems occur naturally. Zircon is the oldest mineral on Earth with samples of it found in Australia dating back to 4.4 billion years ago.
White zircon has been one of the most significant diamond substitutes because of its high dispersion and refractive index. Because of this it was often marketed under the misleading trade name of ‘matura diamond’.
Zirconology: A New Science
Due to the gem's popularity, Zirconology has become a legitimate discipline since scientists want to know about the stone's elemental properties. For instance, blue usually occurs with green pleochroism to produce gorgeous teal-like colors. Zircon is also remarkably dense and exhibits a pronounced level of birefringence, so it displays facet-doubling.
Even though it is white in its purest form, zircon can also occur in yellow, orange, red, green, blue, violet, brown and combinations in between. Scientists have discovered that zircon contains trace elements of uranium and thorium lending a wide range of variations in its physical properties.
Origin And Sources
As the oldest known mineral on earth, zircon was formed 4 billion years ago which makes it older than the moon. Most of its deposits are found in the sand, silt and gravel that remains in riverbeds or deltas. Sri Lanka is the best known source for the lower grade zircon, followed by countries including Brazil, Korea, Madagascar, Mozambique, Nigeria, Tanzania, Thailand and Vietnam.