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Zircon: description, properties and photo

Zircon

Zircon is a gemstone with a wide color range. A blue variety is sometimes called starlit, it is the most valuable. Such stones in color can resemble expensive Paraiba tourmalines. Another highly valued type has orange, brown or red color. Gem-quality zircons have unique optical properties, a strong birefringence effect and excellent dispersion, thanks to which a gemstone looks bright and memorable. They also come white, green, yellow, purple, and even with the phenomenon of color change.

Zircon

It happens that an artificial imitation of a diamond – cubic zirconia can be on sale under the name «zircon”. These things should not be confused in no case. Zircon is an exclusively natural, quite rare, having other properties gemstone.

DEPOSITS

Deposits of gem-quality zircons are quite rare, although this is a wide-spread mineral. The main sources are in Cambodia, Myanmar (Burma), Thailand, Vietnam, Sri Lanka, Tanzania and Madagascar. The best blue specimens are obtained by heating brownish stones from Cambodia. Faceted specimens also come to the market from deposits in the USA, Brazil, Canada, Norway and Australia. In Russia, there are finds on the Kola Peninsula and in the Urals.

Zircon Crystal

Properties

Mineral:

Zircon

Chemical formula:

ZrSiO4

Crystal Systems:

tetragonal

Mohs scale hardness:

6-7.5

Optical character:

anisotropic

Cleavage:

none

Density:

3.90-4.73 g / cm3

Luster:

Vitreous to sub-adamantine

Refractive index:

1.925-1.815

Birefringence:

0-0.059

Dispersion:

0,038

Color:

blue, colorless, yellow, brown, etc.

Interesting facts

  • The oldest mineral found on Earth is considered zircon from Australia 4.4 billion years old.
  • Faceted colorless zircons from the Ceylon town Matara were accepted as diamonds in Europe until the 18th century. The smallest crystals can be found in the form of inclusions in various gems. For example, they are sometimes found in rubies and sapphires.
  • The smallest crystals can be found in the form of inclusions in various minerals. For example, they are sometimes found in rubies and sapphires.
Zircon Crystal

History

Zircons had been known since ancient Rome. They were mentioned in the treatise "Natural History" by Pliny the Elder. Especially they rose in value in the 15-16 centuries, when they only began to arrive in Europe. Heated colorless stones were used as diamonds, which was fixed in their names - «Ceylon or Matars diamond». Yellow zircon was called “jargon” or “Siamese diamond”. Blue Starlit was especially loved in the Victorian epoch. The famous gemologist of the Tiffany company George Kunz popularized it and came up with the name - “starlit”.

Enhancement

Heat treatment is a typical processing for zircons aimed to improving color. Blue, orange, yellow, and colorless colors are obtained by heating of brownish crystals. This property is interesting: blue hues, reheated in an oxygen atmosphere, become golden yellow. Coloring of heated samples is usually stable. Some heated orange and yellow zircons from Africa may become brownish over time.

Zircon

Photo

a large Cambodian zircon

Photo of a large Cambodian zircon 30.35 ct with excellent saturated blue hue

White Zircon from Cambodia

White gemstone of rare weight 33.66 ct and clarity from Cambodia

natural (untreated) zircon

In the photo: natural (untreated) sample 9.70 ct from Vietnam looking like a cognac diamond

Lot of various color Burmeese zircons

Lot of various color Burmeese zircons

Green, yellow and blue faceted samples

zircon ring by Gemlovers

The photo of zircon ring by Gemlovers

yellow cushion-shaped zircon

In the photo: yellow cushion-shaped zircon

blue zircons

Starlits, origin - Cambodia

Video

On the video: bright blue Cambodian faceted zircon

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