If you say Zircon today, it conjures up visions of mass-produced, inexpensive Cubic Zirconia. Most people don’t realize that there is a natural gemstone that predates CZ by eons. Natural Zircon is a transparent gem composed of Zirconium Silicate. It occurs in every colour and is highly doubly refractive in all varieties but the greens. Because of this property and their relative rarity, greens are in demand by collectors. The sparkle of a Zircon, cut correctly, is amazing because of their double refraction and their very strong dispersion characteristics. They have been valued highly since antiquity.
So why isn’t it flooding the jewellery store counters? Unfortunately, those colours fade too easily. Some Zircon contains relatively high amounts of radioactive elements which cause large variations of its physical properties. They are very sensitive to ultra violet, to regular hard sunlight and to heat. As well, Zircon is quite brittle: little knocks or high pressure, like leaning on it, can damage the edges of the gem too easily. This makes it unsuitable for use in rings or other applications where it may encounter hard use unless it is set into fairly heavy and protective settings that just aren’t in style. This is really quite unfortunate, as in the very rare, clear variety Zircon has been used for centuries as a fantastic Diamond simulant.
Zirconia is found in all of its colours throughout the “gem triangle” of the world, including most of the southeastern Asiatic countries, Indonesia and Australia. It occurs in crystals and, once cut, can be easily confused with all of the other major stones, except Emerald. Some Zircons are naturally an unattractive brownish colour but they can be “improved” with heat treating. The change to blue or colourless is usually, but not always, permanent.
We have some natural untreated Zircons in stock as Birthstones for the month of December. Why don’t you come in and see both the set and unset varieties of this interesting gem that we have in stock?