December’s birthstone combines a gorgeous green blue color with a fiery brilliance akin to diamond. In fact for centuries, people confused colorless zircon with diamond. Today, unfortunately, many consumers think zircon is the same as lab-grown cubic zirconia. This error keeps them from enjoying zircon’s sparkling beauty. We offer hand-selected Black Box Gemstones® zircon and calibrated zircon in the shapes, sizes and shades you need to celebrate December birthdays and for any customer drawn to this teal hued beauty.
How long has zircon been around? For jewelry purposes, we can date it back to the Middle Ages and earlier. But zircon’s physical history stretches back beyond imagination, quite literally, billions of years. We know because in February 2014, an electric blue grain of zircon, no larger than a grain of sand, was found in the Jack Hills of Western Australia. Careful testing revealed that this tiny zircon dated back 4.4 billion years, making it the oldest mineral on the planet.
Way back when
Zircon crystallized from the boiling magma that characterized earth’s Hadean Eon or “hell time”, when our planet was only 165 million years old. In the midst of heat and chaos, some zircon crystals had the good fortune to capture a tiny few atoms of uranium-238, a radioactive element.
Under normal circumstances, we estimate the age of historically significant objects with
carbon dating. Alas, it can only measure 70,000 years into the past. With uranium-238, we enter a vast ancient realm. We know that half of uranium-238 atoms decay into lead after 4.47 billion years. To date the Australian grain of zircon, scientists measured the number of lead atoms versus the uranium-238 atoms. If they are equal, we can set the age at 4.47 billion years. It there are very slightly more uranium atoms than lead in zircon, we can date it to 4.4 billion years. Talk about aging beautifully.
A slight digression: Zircon and diamond
Colorless zircon looks more like diamond than any other natural gemstone. And zircon is denser/heavier than diamond meaning a one-carat zircon is smaller than a one-carat diamond. Zircon’s impressive dispersion of .039 is very close to diamond’s dispersion of .044. Now that we’ve cleared that up, let’s get back to blue zircon!
At its purest, zircon is colorless. But with impurities other colors emerge: a yellowish brown, orange, red, and very rarely in green and blue. Since blue remains the most popular color, more had to be created. As often happens with gemstones, heating proved to be the solution. It transformed brown zircon into blue zircon. However, not just any brown zircon will do. South East Asia is rich with the right balance of impurities to yield blue zircon.
Does it make the cut?
Zircon has high birefringence so cutters must orient the table to the optic axis. If not, zircon’s natural facet image doubling will make its interior appear “fuzzy.” Round zircon is often given a “zircon cut,” a brilliant cut with an extra row of facets on the edge for greater brilliance.
Stone of Virtue
Zircon is endowed with some incredible powers of self-improvement. Its abilities are so good, it has been called a “stone of virtue” and so it seems to be.
Zircon can —
- Reestablish or realign our ethics and morals with universal truths.
- Enhance innocence, purity, and constancy.
- Promote unions of the mind, body, spirit, or emotion.
- Attract love.
- Increase stamina and perseverance.
- Secures safe passage and friendly welcome for travelers.
- Heal injuries and sooth pain.
December birthdays can’t keep all this goodness to themselves. Every customer deserves these gifts!