Zircon is a mineral belonging to the group of nesosilicates and is the oldest mineral found in the crust of the earth. Researchers tested the lead in a tiny zircon crystal from Australia and confirmed that it is the oldest rock fragment ever found on Earth, 4.375 billion years old, that is older than the moon.
The name zircon likely comes from the Persian word zargun, meaning “gold-coloured.” Others trace it to the Arabic zarkun, meaning “vermillion.” Given its wide range of colours – spanning red, orange, yellow, green, blue and brown – both origins make sense.
Zircon is an underrated but impressive gemstone that has been worn and treasured since ancient times. Not to be confused with the synthetic material known as cubic zirconia. It is a completely distinct, natural species. However when properly cut, colourless zircon stones can make beautiful and convincing diamond substitutes and even outshine mediocre diamonds. Its high dispersion is close to that of diamond.
Zircon occurs in many colours, including reddish brown, yellow, green, blue, grey and colourless. It is commonly heat treated. Brown zircons can be transformed into colourless or blue zircons through heat treatments. Zircon is a durable gemstone with good hardness on the Mohs scale 7.5. However, Zircon has what is known as indistinct cleavage which creates a somewhat brittle tendency that can lead to chips, especially along facet edges requiring extra care when setting, cleaning, or wearing.
Australia leads the world in zircon mining, producing 40% of the world total followed by South Africa with 30% of world production. It can also be found in Cambodia, Madagascar, Canada, Ukraine, Myanmar, Sri Lanka and Thailand.
Zircon is the one of the birthstones for December and is generally very affordable. It naturally out sparkles the other December birthstones (Blue Topaz and Tanzanite) making it a great gift for anyone who simply appreciates dazzling, fiery gems.