Zircon combines a nearly adamantine luster with exceptional brilliance and a wide array of colors — striking blues, yellow, green, orange, brown, red, black and colorless.
Because of Zircon’s vibrant optical properties and a wide array of pleasing colors, it has become a darling for gem collectors. The stone is mined in Cambodia, Madagascar, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, Thailand, Tanzania, China, and Australia. In the middle ages, zircon was claimed to aid sleep, bring prosperity, and promote honor and wisdom in its owner.
The name Zircon derives from the Persian word zargun, meaning gold-hued. It hasn’t always been so highly regarded. It was widely used in the 1950s and sixties as an inexpensive diamond substitute and included in mass-produced jewelry like mothers’ rings and birthstone jewelry as a pleasing substitute to aquamarine. Its popularity was eclipsed by the advent of better, less expensive diamond substitutes and the introduction of treated blue topaz.
As is the case of some other gemstones, zircon was saddled with a name that is more clinical than romantic. Different names have been applied to the stone, often about the color, such as hyacinth and jacinth. Starlight was a turn-of-the-century attempt by gemstone legend and Tiffany & Co. stone buyer George Fredrick Kunz to romanticize the stone’s icky name. While Tiffany had great success in other efforts, las with Tanzanite (zoisite), Starlight never caught on.
Given the renaissance of gemstone popularity today, even its less-than-stellar name cannot hold back a gemstone as luscious as zircon. Its affordability, coupled with an incredible range of colors, has helped it become one of the better selling stones in today’s market. Even large gemstones – 10 plus carats – are available (though they may be in short supply). As with most multi-colored gemstone families, typically the red, green, and blue material will command a premium price over the more-affordable brown, orange, and yellow shades.
How to Care For Your Gemstones
Once mounted in jewelry, the December birthstone should be stored carefully. Although this ancient gem is hard, facets can abrade if they come in contact with other gemstone jewelry. We have no definitive diagnostics to determine if a zircon has been treated. But the industry assumes that except for green and brown zircons, most colors have received heat enhancement. For the most part, these treatments are stable. But warn your customer who might visit a nail salon while wearing their zircon jewelry that intense UV lamps can bleach out the color. You can clean zircon jewelry with mild dish soap and use a soft brush to scrub the stone. Your AGTA jeweler can tell you how to best care for your precious gemstones.
AGTA Spectrum Awards™ Winners
Searching for more? Find more information about Blue Zircon here.