Double The Fun
Zircon is a nesosilicate mineral that is found in a range of colors such as blue, green, red, yellow, brown, and clear when there is not an outside coloring agent.
Some of these colors are induced by radioactivity and damaging crystal structure on a molecular level, allowing trace elements to sneak into the stone's chemistry.
Zircon is known for its unique optical properties that set it apart from other precious gemstones, like doubling. When looking through the table, rock the stone back an forth and observe its hazy appearance and how the facets seem to jump in place. This doubling characteristic is also found in peridot, but not as powerfully as zircon.
Fire is typically a term reserved for diamonds and is unusual to see in colored gemstones. Zircon displays a moderate amount of this dispersion which gives it a very lively appearance.
This is generally an eye-clean gemstone but it can have mineral inclusions as a clarity characteristic.
Zircon is found at pegmatite deposit sites in Australia, South America, and Madagascar. It can also be found in alluvial deposits throughout Southeast Asia.
Colorless zircon is sometimes called 'Matara' after the city where the rough is mined in Sri Lanka.
Zircon is famous for being the world's oldest mineral with specimens in Australia dating back 4.4 billion years. Scientists study this mineral as a tool to understand Earth's history since zircon can form as interval rings, like a tree, creating a timeline of geological shifts.
Its name is thought to be derived from Arabic's 'zarkun' to mean "cinnabar" or "vermilion", or it could be derived from Persian's 'zargun' to mean "gold colored'. Both are very closely related in vernacular and definitely describe an aspect of zircon's color range.
Zircon was popular in Victorian times and was comparable to diamond in effect when entertaining via candlelight. People were especially enamored by the blue variety of zircon. Renowned Tiffany & Co. mineralogist George Kunz referred to the stone as "starlight" trying to market its mystifying aesthetic, but the world was already aware of the stone as zircon.
As Jewelry and Care
Blue zircon is one of the traditional birthstones for December.
As an incredibly durable gem with moderate hardness zircon is perfect for everyday wear. Gem cutters will typically facet the stone to fully display its fun optical features.
Zircon should not be mistaken for cubic zirconia which is a man-made diamond imitant, both stones look and act very differently. This confusion has led to zircon being less popular in contemporary jewelry and prized in estate pieces.
Zircon can be cleaned with warm soapy water and a soft bristled brush. This gem should always be wrapped when stored to prevent it from getting scratched by harder stones like diamonds. As always, avoid harsh chemicals when wearing any kind of jewelry.