Zircon has been known under various names since antiquity. The current name for zircon most likely comes from the Persian word zargun meaning "golden colored." Another potential namesake is the Arabic word zarkun, meaning "cinnabar" or "vermillion," possibly a result of zircon's colors.

Zircon occurs in a rainbow of rich hues, including blue, green, brown, red and pink, brownish golds and vibrant yellows, as well as colorless.