Radiant zircon is perhaps the most misunderstood of all gemstones. Unfortunately due to the similarity of zircon's name to the diamond simulant cubic zirconia, many people don't realize that zircon is a beautiful, naturally occurring stone with its own merits. It has been a less-expensive stand-in for many gems throughout history, including diamond and topaz, even though zircon has tremendous fire and a dispersion rate nearly as high as diamond and much higher than other gems.
|Blue and colorless zircons are almost always heat treated. For this reason, high heat and prolonged exposure to bright light should be avoided to prevent changing the stone's color. Harsh abrasives should also be avoided, as zircon can be brittle or easily abraded. Ultrasonic and steam cleaners could be risky for zircon. Warm soapy water and a very soft brush are ideal for cleaning zircon.|
|Zircon occurs in a rainbow of rich hues, including blue, green, brown, red and pink, brownish golds and yellow, as well as colorless. Increasingly rare honey-colored zircon from Cambodia is primarily the only zircon that can be heated to blue. |
|Like most colored stones, zircon's value is primarily determined by its intensity and saturation of color, all other factors being equal. Beyond that, size and clarity play an important role. Most gem zircons are eye-clean. Blue and colorless zircons are considered type I gems, meaning they are almost always eye clean with no inclusions. Other colors of zircon are type II; they can show eye-visible inclusions, but they don't take away from the stone's beauty. Because blue zircons are in higher demand, they are usually more expensive than other zircons.|
Name Origin and History
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.
The first known reference to this sparkling stone as zircon was in an ancient Hindu poem about the Kalpa tree, described as a glowing tree draped with gemstones, with leaves made of zircons. It is referred to in the Bible under various other names, including the jacinth (red zircon) that is set in the breastplate of Aaron and as the stone given to Moses in Ezekiel. Zircon is also among the "foundation stones" of Jerusalem's city walls in Revelations. Ancient gem lovers knew zircon as hyacinth, a name that is sometimes used to refer to the stone even today.
According to Jewish legend, the angel sent to the Garden of Eden to watch over Adam and Eve was named Zircon. Believed to be a symbol of honesty and contentment, zircon has also been thought to bring its wearers prosperity, peaceful sleep, honor, respect, and wisdom.
This rare natural-color (unheated) rich green zircon from the JTV Founders' Collection was mined in Sri Lanka and weighs an impressive 14.37 carats.
Zircon's brilliance and fire have earned it exciting, descriptive names like "sparklite" for colorless zircon and "starlite," the name given to blue zircon by famed gemologist George Frederick Kunz.
Blue zircon is an alternative birthstone for December. Find out more about December birthstones.