Zircon is known since the Middle Ages. The oldest known zircons are from Western Australia, with an age of 4.4 billion years. The name probably comes from the Persian word “zargun” which means “gold-colored”, although zircon comes in a wide range of different colors. The most popular zircon color is blue. Most blue zircon come in a pastel blue, but some exceptional gems have a bright blue color. Zircon is also available colorless, in green, dark red, violet, yellow, brown and orange.
Due to its high refractive index and strong dispersion, zircon has great brilliance and intensive fire. The luster is vitreous to a brilliant sheen. Colorless stones are brilliant cut. They have fraudulently been offered for “matura”diamond. On the other hand, natural zircon should not be confused with synthetic cubic zirconia, a common diamond look-alike.
Colored stones get a brilliant or step (emerald) cut. Round stones are often given a “zircon” cut which is similar to a standard round brilliant cut with an extra row of facets at the edges.
Although relatively hard, (rating 6.5-7.5 on the Mohs scale), zircon is brittle and therefore sensitive to knocks and pressure. The gem has the tendency to wear along facet edges. Its use in rings should therefore be limited to protective settings or occasional wear jewelry. Zircon jewelry should be stored carefully, wrapped in individual twists of paper so that they will not knock against each other.
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