The Oldest Mineral Found on Earth: Zircon Stones All Entries
Even though zircon stones have been collected by people for centuries, they are often underrated and undervalued among jewelry consumers. These eye-catching gems come in many natural colors. While green is the rarest, blue is among the most popular and valuable. Here are important points to know about zircon stones and why they make great gifts as unique personalized jewelry.
Similar To Diamonds
One of the attractive qualities of zircon stones is its resemblance to diamonds. The gems span a wide range of values and colors. The main colors besides blue are golden-brown and white. Some of the lesser used colors in jewelry are yellow, green, pink, and purple. Like diamonds, the various colors are due to impurities.
But what makes certain forms of zircon distinct from diamonds is they must be heat treated to enhance color, increase transparency and stabilize radioactivity. This small amount of radioactivity, however, is not considered dangerous. Due to the brittle nature of the subtance, zircon must be cut very carefully.
Colorless zircon, also known as Matura Diamond, differs from a diamond because of its double refraction, in which light splits into separate rays within the crystal. Zircon also has a lower hardness rating (6-7.5) than a diamond (10). The gem should not be confused with a cheap synthetic type of diamond called Cubic Zirconia. Both contain the element zirconium, but otherwise have nothing to do with each other.
A GIA-certified gemologist has the tools, knowledge and experience to distinguish zircon stones from diamonds. In some cases, special instruments are needed to measure the double refraction. It's important to know zircon is considered by many people to be a more affordable alternative to a diamond, but some gems can still be very valuable.
As a polished gem, zircon looks like a world of multiple dimensions and colors, giving it a hypnotic fire appearance. Part of its mystique is it's the oldest mineral found on earth spanning 4.4 billion years. The crystals grow in various types of rock, found around the world in places such as Cambodia, Sri Lanka, and Australia.
Due to traces of uranium, the substance has changing properties until it's mined. Some gemologists divide zircon into three classes (high, intermediate, and low) based on radioactive impact. The high classification is for minimal radiation damage to crystals and represents the type used in most zircon jewelry. High-temperature treatment can be used to repair crystals damaged by radiation.
Zircon stones are celebrated as birthstones for December. Blue zircon has a nostaligia tied with the Victorian era. In the Middle Ages, zircon was used to drive away evil spirits and was closely associated with wealth and wisdom. Today zircon is widely overlooked as jewelry, despite its beautiful earth tones and minimal inclusions.
Assuming zircon stones are just cheap imitations of diamonds is somewhat of a common misconception. Authentic zircon can be as captivativing as a diamond. Contact us here at Ralph Mueller & Associates to learn more.