Zircon is a widespread mineral and an important gemstone of many colors.
This mineral is ubiquitous in the Earth’s crust and is among the oldest known minerals.
It is sometimes looked upon as a cheap diamond simulant, but in actuality it can be a valuable gem.
Zircon occurs in an array of colors. Its varied palette of yellow, green, red, reddish brown, and blue hues makes it a favorite among collectors as well as informed consumers.
Colorless zircon is known for its brilliance and flashes of multicolored light, called fire. These zircon properties are close enough to the properties of diamond to account for centuries of confusion between the two gems.
The color of zircons can sometimes be changed by heat treatment. Common brown zircons can be transformed into colorless and blue zircons by heating to 800 to 1000 °C.
A zircon has a hardness of 6 to 7.5 on the Mohs scale of mineral hardness.
The name “zircon” derives from the Persian zargun, meaning “gold-hued”. This word is corrupted into “jargoon”, a term applied to light-colored zircons. The English word “zircon” is derived from Zirkon, which is the German adaptation of this word. Yellow, orange and red zircon is also known as “hyacinth”, from the flower hyacinthus, whose name is of Ancient Greek origin.
According to some Jewish legends, an angel called Zircon would have guided Adam and Eve to the Eden garden.
Zircon is one of the twelve gemstones set in the foundations of the city walls of Jerusalem and associated with the Apostle Simon.
It is mentioned in the Bible (under the ancient name, jacinth) as being one of the stones of fire that were given to Moses and then set in the breastplate of Aaron.
In the Middle Ages, this gem was thought to induce sound sleep, drive away evil spirits, and promote riches, honor, and wisdom.
Blue zircon was a particular favorite in Victorian times, when fine gems were often featured in English estate jewelry dating from the 1880s.
The zircon crystals from Australia’s Jack Hills are believed to be the oldest thing ever discovered on Earth. Researchers have dated the crystals to about 4.375 billion years ago, just 165 million years after the Earth formed. The zircons provide insight into what the early conditions on Earth were like.
Gemologist George Kunz — Tiffany’s famed gem buyer, was a notable zircon advocate. He once proposed the name “starlite” to promote the gem’s fiery nature. The name never caught on.
Zircon is the birthstone associated with the month of December.