Thursday, June 10, 2021

Zircon Is A Favorite of Gem Dealers And Collectors

Another radiate gemstone, a favorite of jewelers and collectors yet usually overlooked by the general public, is a zirconium silicate (ZrSiO4), which is its chemical name. Known in the jewelry trade as zircon, the mineral rates a 7.5 on Moh's Scale of Hardness, making it durable to wear as jewelry. Don't confuse zircon with cubic zirconia, a cheap lab created diamond substitute, only their names are similar.

Natural zircon is one of the earth's oldest gemstones (at 4 billion years old) and rivals diamonds in sparkle.

In fact, zircon has a higher refractive index (a/k/a brilliance; or sparkle) than sapphires, rubiesemeralds, spinels or tanzanites (and tanzanite is priced as a gemstone for its high refractive index). It turns out, zircon has more fire than most colorless and colored gemstones. Brilliance is the colorless (or white) light emitted from a gemstone, while fire is the colored light, or sparkle you see when the stone is exposed to light. Zircon has both brilliance and fire in abundance, glittering nearly as much as a diamond. It's a semi-precious, affordable stone.
Natural zircon comes in an array of beautiful colors: Blue is the most popular and green is the rarest. Historically, blue zircon comes from Cambodia, Sri Lanka and Burma. White zircon, with its excellent brilliance and fire characteristics, makes a very fine budget-friendly diamond-substitute for anyone who desires a natural, as opposed to, a lab created gemstone. Jewelers call "yellow" honey zircon. Tanzania has become a main source for mining red, orange and honey zircon. As in the case of other gemstones, heat treatment is allowed in the jewelry world to enhance zircon's colors and the process doesn't lessen its value. Heat is an accepted treatment because it doesn't weaken, nor change the composition of the natural crystal, and heat is the same element that over billions of years caused the formation of precious and semi-precious stones.
Photo: JTV
Unlike either diamonds or manmade cubic zirconia, zircon is birefringent -- making it unique -- it has two different refractive indices [indexes] whereby a ray of light is spilt by polarization into two rays of light, each taking slightly different paths.

So now that you know more about zircon, do you want one? If so, what color appeals to you?

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