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Zircon Gemstone Information

Zircon Gemstones at GemSelect
Natural Zircon Gemstones

Zircon is an historic crystal both in terms of man and the earth itself. A piece of zircon found in Australia in 2014 has been dated back nearly 4.5 billion years making it virtually as old as the planet itself. Named hyacinth or jacinth in the bible, a variety of zircon was one of the 12 stones of Israel mentioned in the bible and a legendary tree ripe with zircon gems is mentioned in traditional Hindu poem.

Zircon's image has suffered over the years first by its use in its clear form as a cheaper substitute for diamonds and then more recently by getting confused with the man-made diamond substitute, cubic zirconium. This is a shame because the zircon crystals make a beautiful gem covering an array of colors from golden yellows to deep reds, greens and blues and even black.

Zircon's name comes from the Arabic 'Zarqun' meaning red or the 'similar sounding Persian word 'Zargun' meaning golden and it is found across the world with east Africa and south east Asia producing some of the finest examples. It was renamed Zircon in 1783 by Abraham Werner.

Zircon Colors

Which colors of zircon are the most expensive? Zircons come in many colors, including some stunning yellow and orange varieties, even pinks and greens, but undoubtedly the favorite and most valuable are the attractive blue examples. Although they may be the most popular, blue zircons are nearly always naturally brown and are turned into stunning blues through heat treatment.

The color of Zircon gemstones can change dramatically when viewed from different angles, for example blue zircon can look greenish from certain angles. The technical term for this is pleochroism. Medium dark, pure blue stones have the most value. Green zircons are probably the rarest color zircon, they are very hard to find and typically very expensive. White zircon, which is in reality clear, is wanted for its resemblance to diamonds.

Which is the rarest color zircon? Probably the green zircon this type is very rare and typically very expensive. White zircon, which is in reality clear, is wanted for its resemblance to diamonds.

Zircon Gemstones at GemSelect

Zircon Varieties

The mineral zircon is present throughout the world in such abundance that it could be thought of as ubiquitous and is so small that it is barely noticed. Zircon is so resilient that it can survive in soil, rocks and sediments for billions of years, the entire lifespan of our planet. In certain circumstances larger crystals can form and these crystals are sometimes of extremely high clarity. Zircon is the encompassing name but its assortment of colors produced by traces of impurities has lead to a number of alternative names including:

  • Canary Zircon yellow in color just like the bird
  • Chocolate Zircon brown in color
  • Ratanakari Zircon a blue stone named after the Cambodian mine where it is excavated
  • Mashewa Zircon an orange variety from the Mashewa mine in Tanzania
  • Hyacinth from yellow to garnet
  • Jargoon a pale almost colorless yellow gem

Zircon is so resilient that it can survive in soil, rocks and sediments for billions of years, the entire lifespan of our planet.

Zircon gemstones are considered to have high levels of clarity, most gemstones for sale are what we would call 'eye clean', that is any impurities or flaws (known as inclusions) are invisible to the naked eye. As it is a natural gemstone such inclusions certainly exist but would only be visible under magnification. Most valuable Zircon gemstones are transparent or translucent and have a sparkle or a characteristic 'fire' that distinguish them from most other gemstones. This distinctive 'sparkle' is known as dispersion and can be measured using a refractometer.

Zircon Clarity

Zircon gemstones are considered to have high levels of clarity, most gemstones for sales are what we would call 'eye clean', that is any impurities or flaws (known as inclusions) are invisible to the naked eye. As it is a natural gemstone such inclusions certainly exist but would only be visible under magnification. Most valuable Zircon gemstones are transparent or translucent and have a sparkle or a characteristic 'fire' that distinguish them from other gemstones.

Zircon Meaning

As one of the oldest minerals on earth, Zircon has a unique spirituality about it. In the Middle Ages, Zircon was said to aid in resting and sleeping warding off nightmares and bringing prosperity, honor and wisdom to its owner. Zircon will enable you to deal with feelings of loss whether it is a family member, friend or beloved pet. It can boost your passion for life or work. Zircon is an excellent meditation gemstone. Zircon can be a good gift for your child if you wish you connect with him or her. The different color zircons can have different spiritual effects, for example the Blue Zircon stone can help your relationships and build self confidence while the colorless variety or Matura Diamond (a misleading name for a clear zircon) is great for mental purification.

Healing benefits of Zircon

Zircon has been recommended for centuries to alleviate a range of ailments, soothing pains, relieve stomach cramps, asthma, lung problems and some forms of cardiac arrhythmia. Some believe it can aid with menstrual pains and act as a sexual stimulant.

Zircon is very slightly radioactive so some care should be taken when wearing it but please note that the levels of radioactivity in zircon pose no threat when worn as jewelry.

Disclaimer: Metaphysical and Alternative Crystal Healing Powers and Properties are not to be taken as confirmed advice. Traditional, Ceremonial and Mythological Gemstone Lore is collected from various resources and does not represent the sole opinion of SETT Co., Ltd. This information is not to replace the advice of your doctor. Should you have any medical conditions, please see a licensed medical practitioner. GemSelect does not guarantee any claims or statements of healing or astrological birthstone powers and cannot be held liable under any circumstances.

Zircon Prices

How much does it cost?

The 4 Cs, color, clarity, cut and carat, largely determine the price of a gemstone and this is no different for a zircon. The colorless or white zircon resembles the diamond and is in fact rarer than a diamond but cannot command a similar price. Zircon can cost around $50 to $400 per carat depending on the above mentioned 4 Cs. The most popular zircon is the blue variety produced by heat treatment of brown zircon usually from Myanmar or Cambodia, and usually commands a good fee. Green zircon is the rarest color and can also reach a significant price. The origin of the zircon stone can also affect the price with Sri Lanka and Cambodia providing premium priced clear stones and Cambodia also being the source of the finest blue varieties.

Zircon Price List

Color Weight range Price range / USD
Blue 1 - 2ct $15 - $50/ct
Blue 2 - 5ct $35 - $180/ct
Blue 5ct + $70 - $350/ct
White 1 - 2ct $15 - $80/ct
White 2 - 5ct $18 - $40/ct
White 5ct + $40 - $80/ct
Fancy 1 - 2ct $15 - $100/ct
Fancy 2 - 5ct $20 - $250/ct
Fancy 5ct + $40 - $400/ct

Where are zircons found?

Zircons in some form or another are found on all continents including Antarctica but larger Gem quality zircon crystals have been produced from alluvial deposits in Sri Lanka, Cambodia, Myanmar, and Vietnam for hundreds of years. More recently gem-grade deposits have been mined in Australia, South America, Nigeria, Madagascar and wherever pegmatite rock can be found.

Can Zircon be treated?

Many zircon stones are completely untreated, however to get the very popular and beautiful Blue zircon or brilliant White zircon, the original gemstones have to be heat treated. Some colors are unenhanced, including rose and rose-orange zircon from Tanzania, and orange to orange-brown zircon from Cambodia. Green zircon is very rare and owes its color to minute natural traces of uranium and thorium but is sometimes heated to lighten their coloring. Golden-yellow zircon is occasionally heated. Certain stones can be heat treated twice, once in an oxygen free environment to turn blue, then re-heated in air to produce golden brown gems. It should be noted that some treated gemstones have been known to fade in sunlight or under ultra-violet light.

What jewelry is Zircon suitable for?

Zircon has a reading of 7 to 7.5 on the Mohs scale for gem quality stones, meaning they are strong enough the withstand the rigors of daily wear if fashioned into rings, pendants, bracelets or necklaces although care should be taken to avoid any sharp blows. Zircon can be brittle so should be stored carefully to avoid contact with hard materials which could break, chip or scratch the gem.
To learn more about the Mohs scale please see our article here.

The wide range of beautiful and interesting colors as well as their renowned sparkle or 'fire' make Zircons much sought after as jewelry. To maximize the effects of this very high luster zircons are usually fashioned into round or oval shapes with a brilliant or step cut. Zircons color and luster is so attractive that it looks stunning when set in finished jewelry designs and because of the variety of hues available, the stone can set in silver, gold, white gold or any medium you prefer.

White zircon is a go-to diamond substitute for those wanting a gemstone with diamond-like luster but who don't wish to pay the high price of a real diamond.

Most zircon stones are small in size, due to their dense nature, but some rare large stones can be found. Larger stones are excellent for bold designs, such as unique pendants or brooches. Buy colored gemstones by size and not by carat weight - a 6mm round stone will be 6mm but the very dense zircon could be smaller than its carat weight may suggest. For example, Zircon is about 50% denser than diamond - if the diamond weighs 1 carat, the same size zircon will weigh about 1.5 carats.

Did you know? Interesting facts about zircon

  • Zircons are one of three birthstones for the month of December.
  • White zircon is the gemstone of the planet Venus and is believed to bring good fortune to those born under the sign of Taurus and Libra.
  • Zircon can contain small traces of uranium, leading it to change properties by irradiating itself!
  • Tiffany's world famous gem buyer, George Kunz was a great fan of Blue Zircon and wanted to rename it 'Starlite' to emphasize the gem's brilliant luster. It did not catch on.
  • Zircon has double refraction, light entering the gem splits into to two rays of light, giving it its well known sparkle.
  • Zircons are so durable and resistant to chemical attack that they never disappear.
  • It is believed that zircons were formed by crystallization within volcanic rock but new theories suggest zircons could have been created when meteors hit earth billions of years ago.
  • Layers of additional zircon grow around the original crystal like tree rings, these rings can record geologic events tracing the history of our planet.
  • Zircon is of such interest to geoscientists that it has spawned the discipline of "zirconology".

How to care for Zircon

While it is hard enough for most types of jewelry, Zircon still needs to be taken care of. It is best to store gems and jewelry separately from one another to prevent scratches and fractures. When storing zircon gemstones, it is a good idea to wrap them in a soft cloth or place them inside a fabric-lined box. Always remove jewelry when engaging in any type of physical activity, including household chores, exercise or sports. When not being worn, we recommend keeping your zircons out of direct sunlight and away from strong sources of heat as this could alter the coloring. Simply wipe down your zircon with a soft cloth or brush or wash with a mild soap or detergent if necessary and rinse with warm water. Avoid steamers or ultrasonic cleaners when cleaning zircon gems and jewelry.

How can you tell a real Zircon?

Is this gem real?

The only way to be sure of any gemstone's authenticity is through a professional lab test using refractive index tests or specific gravity tests. Identifying a zircon without one of these tests would be difficult. Because of its similarity to diamond, colorless faceted zircon has been used as a substitute, sometimes fraudulently. At GemSelect, we currently offer brief identification reports from your choice of two well-respected independent gemological laboratories, The Asian Institute of Gemological Sciences (AIGS) and Burapha Gemological Laboratory (BGL Lab).

Zircon - Gemological Properties

Chemical Formula:

ZrSiO4; Zirconium silicate

Crystal Structure:

(Tetragonal), short, stocky, four-sided prisms with pyramidal ends

Color:

Colorless, yellow, brown, orange, red violet, blue, green

Hardness:

6.5 to 7.5 on the Mohs scale

Refractive Index:

1.810 to 2.024

Density:

3.93 to 4.73

Cleavage:

Indistinct

Transparency:

Transparent to translucent

Double Refraction or Birefringence:

0.002 to 0.059

Luster:

Vitreous to brilliant sheen

Fluorescence:

Blue: very weak; light-orange, red and brown: weak, dark-yellow

Can Zircon change color?

We know that zircon can change color permanently when heated in laboratories but they can also change color in sunlight, in darkness or under incandescent light. Some examples are said to go from orange to colorless when left in the sun then slowly return to orange when kept in the dark. This phenomenon, peculiar to just a few gems, is called tenebrescence.

How can you tell a good quality zircon?

As with most gems, an appraisal of a gemstone's quality is based on the 4 Cs, color, clarity, cut and carat. With Zircons it is the color and cut that are the most important. Zircons are typically inclusion free and most gems look clear to the naked eye. We prefer to gauge a zircon by its physical size in millimeters rather than carats. This is because the zircon is a very dense gemstone, for example it is about 50% more dense than a diamond so a 2 or 3 carat zircon would look a lot smaller than a similar carat diamond. So on a zircon look for deep and saturated colors. Make sure the the gem facets are cut in the proper angles so it will not show any window effect and display its full fire.

  • First Published: October-11-2019
  • Last Updated: October-25-2019
  • © 2005-2019 GemSelect.com all rights reserved.
    Reproduction (text or graphics) without the express written consent of GemSelect.com (SETT Company Ltd.) is strictly prohibited.
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Size and Weight

Gems are always measured in Millimeter (mm)

Dimensions are given as;
length x width x depth,
except for round stones which are;
diameter x depth

Select gems by size, not by weight!
Gem varieties vary in density, so carat weight is not a good indication of size

Note: 1ct = 0.2g

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