Sunday, December 11, 2011

Zircon is the Gemstone of the Week

Zircon is considered to be one of the birthstones for those born in December. Although this stone has been known since the Middle Ages, the oldest known Zircons, from Western Australia are 4.4 billion years old. There are several theories as to where the name comes from, but the most common one is that it comes from Persian word "zargun" which means gold colored, even though Zircons come in several different colors. Clear or colorless Zircons can rival diamonds for sparkle and shine. They are often considered to be a cheap substitute for diamonds, but can often be a valuable gemstone.

Zircons are a dense gemstone which means that the carat size of this gemstone will look smaller than the same carat size of a different gem. It is a remarkable mineral in that it can be found in many different types of rock. It is one of the most widely occurring minerals and can be found throughout the world. On the Moh scale, it has a hardness of 7.5, so it is a fairly strong gemstone.

Natural Zircon comes out of the Earth in brown, yellow, green and bright red. Some of the trace elements that give the stones their color can sometimes be radioactive. These stones are heat treated and that can produce the much desired blue color, along with white, purple, colorless, orange an pink. Heat treating is the most commonly used enhancement for Zircons. It is done to stabilize the stones and for coloring. Heat treating semi transparent grayish brown and reddish brown stones in an oxygen free environment will give it a blue color. If the same stones are then heat treated with air, the color will turn golden brown. Almost all colorless and blue Zircons are heat treated.

Zircon occurs in beach sand in many parts of the world, especially in Australia, India and Brazil. Thailand, Cambodia and Viet Nam are major sources of Zircon. It can also be found abundantly in Sri Lanka, and Myanmar. It is also found in Quebec, Tanzania, Mozambique, Nigeria, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Madagascar.

It is believed that Zircon helps one be more at peace with oneself, bring honor and and wisdom and to aid in peaceful sleep. It is also thought to promote inner renewal, foster independence, spirituality and friendliness, and bring inspiration.

Hindu poets wrote of the Kalpa Tree. This ultimate gift to the gods was a gemstone tree with leaves of green Zircon.

Natural Zircon
Photo courtesy of R.Weller/Cochise College

Blue Cambodian Zircon


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