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Zircon Stone Facts and Information
Zircon Properties and Colors
Zircon is a zirconium silicate, its hardness is 7 – 7.5 on Mohs scale (when impure can be as low as 6.5), with refractive index range between 1.79 – 1.81 and 1.925 – 1.984 and its specific gravity of 3.9 – 4.10 and 4.67 – 4.70. The name of the stone is derived from two Arabic words, ‘zar’ means gold and ‘gun’ means color. Zircon is one of the heaviest gemstones, the gem will look smaller than other varieties of the same weight.
There are two varieties of zircon, one is called High Zircon and the other Low Zircon. Zircon of good fine quality are always transparent without any inclusions or visible flaws. Deep red is the most beautiful, rare and prized color, next is pure, blue, colorless, orange, brown and yellow are less valued. Clarity and color are the two most important considerations in evaluating Zircon gem. Two names have been given to zircon. One is jargoon, used for the colorless to light yellow stones from Sri Lanka, and the other is hyacinth for the red brown material. These two names are now prohibited.
In addition to zirconium, oxygen and silicon, zircon contains small quantieties of rare earths and radioactive elements such as uranium and thorium. These inclusions give zircon differents hardnesses and properties.
White zircon or colorless zircon was the best known simulant to the diamond since the 19th century and was widely used as a low price diamond alternative. Zircon Gemstone is also one of the most brilliant gemstones, second only to diamond. Faceted zircons were however sold as diamonds in the 14th century A.D. A superior brilliance and good dispersion are the two distinguishable qualities of zircon. The white or colorless zircons of Sri Lanka were sold under the name of ‘Matura Diamond’.
Gems like quartz, tourmaline, synthetic Spinel, sphene, diamond and garnet are some of the gemstones which resemble zircon. Zircon is often confused with Cubic Zirconia, a synthetic, inexpensive Diamond simulant, it resembles colorless Zircon and has a similar sounding name.
Treatments and Uses
Zircons are cut and faceted into many fancy shapes like oval, square, round, etc. Although zircon is quite a hard gemstone but it can suffer from abrasion and the facets can be chipped easily with a slight knock therefore zircon jewelry should be handled and stored carefully. Natural untreated zircon are extremely rare and most of the zircons found in the market are heat-treated. The color of heat-treated zircon gems may change over time. Zircon is used as the main source in industry for the metal zirconium used in steel alloys, jet engines and abrasives.
Zircon occurs usually in igneous environments, in granitic pegmatites. However, it does occur in metamorphic environments, and also in placer deposits. Many gemstone grade Zircon is from placer deposits. The southern part of Vietnam near the Cambodian border, the Palin region in Cambodia and the Chanthaburi region in Thailand are the major sources where Zircon roughs are mined. Other places where gem quality zircon mines are located are Myanmar, Australia, Srilanka (Ceylon), New England, France etc.
Zircon Healing and Metaphysical Properties
In the middle ages, zircons were believed to promote honor and wisdom as well as to drive away plagues and evil spirits, brings prosperity to its owner and offers peace of mind. In certain parts of the world, zircon is said to protect its owner from traveler’s diseases or injuries and to ensure a good sleep as well as a warm welcome to new places. The Hindus believe zircon can stimulate spiritual growth. It was believed also in ancient times that if this stone looses its luster, it implies some danger or mishappening. It has beneficial effect on lunch, bronchial and general respiratory problems.