Blue Zircon Gemstone Information


Fine Blue Zircon


Zircon is an important jewelry gemstone which is sometimes confused with the cheap and ubiquitous synthetic stone known as cubic zirconia. Of course the two are totally distinct in their chemistry, optical properties and origins.  Zircon is a natural material (zirconium silicate) which is found in Cambodia, Burma and Sri Lanka as well as in Brazil, Australia and East Africa. Colorless when pure, zirconium silicate takes on various shades due to impurities. The brilliance and fire of this gemstone makes it very popular and it is attractively priced in comparison with many other fine gems. The wide variety of colors of zircon, its rarity, and its relatively low cost make it a popular collector's stone. Collectors enjoy the search for all possible colors and variations. Zircon is also a favorite of gemologists and geologists for its unique properties.
 
The prices and value of fine zircon vary depending on the size and quality of the gemstone.  Blue is the most popular zircon color, followed by honey, red and white. Green zircon, resulting from the effects of natural radioactivity, is rare. In blue zircon, look for a saturated blue. Clean gems in large sizes are especially valuable.

 
Why Buy Loose Gemstones Instead of Pre-Set Jewelry?
 
There are many reasons, but basically it comes down to value and choice...

When buying your Blue Zircon gemstone loose instead of a pre-set stone, you can be sure you are getting the best value for your money.  Loose gemstones are less expensive, a better value, and you can really see what you are paying for.  The most important part of getting the right price and finding the best value is to first see what you're getting.  A jewelry setting will hide the inclusions inside a gem, and can deepen or brighten its color.  With a loose stone you can much more easily inspect the gem and see it for what it really is.  In this way you can get a better idea of its true worth and be sure you are paying a fair price.

The second advantage of buying a loose gemstone is choice.  You are free to pick the exact color, cut, shape and variety of the stone for the setting of your dreams, be it yellow gold, white gold, platinum or silver; prong set or bezel set with diamond accents.  You can experience the joy of creating your very own, one-of-a-kind jewelry design. Choose from a variety of jewelry settings and styles to create a completely original presentation that will perfectly suit your individual gemstone and will be as unique as you are!
 

 Blue Zircon Ring    Blue Zircon Jewelry

Attributes

Origin Thailand, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Norway, Germany, Russia, Madagascar, Brazil, Canada and the United States
Color Blue to vivid blue, pastel blue sky blue and bright blue.
Refractive Index 1.92 - 2.01
Chemical Composition  ZrSiO4
Hardness 7.5
Density 4.6-4.7
Crystal Structure Tetragonal

Zircon is the single member of the zircon group of the nesosilicates that is suitable for use as a gemstone. In the nesosilicates, independent SiO4 tetrahedra are connected only by ionic bonds. Because the tetrahedra are not linked to form chains, sheets, groups, rings or a framework, an equidimensional crystal habit and the lack of distinct cleavage planes are prevalent. Nesosilicate structures are generally determined by the size of the interstitial cations, the positively charged atoms occupying the spaces between the connected tetrahedra. Aluminum often replaces silicon in the silicates, but such substitution occurs less frequently in the nesosilicates. Dense atomic packing causes their relatively high specific gravity and hardness. Zircon exhibits these typical characteristics.

Hafnium, a metallic element, is always present in zircons, although the amount is usually less than four percent. Uranium and thorium are often present. The "self-irradiation", caused by the decay of these radioactive guests, results in damage to the atomic lattice and is responsible for the eventual alteration of the crystal to an isotropic glass. This process occurs over a long period of geologic time. Zircons thus affected are termed "metamict" and classified according to the extent of the damage sustained. "High" zircons have undergone little or no change to the lattice and are very acceptable for use as gems. "Low" and "intermediate" zircons have undergone more extensive destruction, but none present a hazard to humans.

The refractive indices vary. Low zircon can be almost isotropic and exhibit indices of 1.78 - 1.85, with a birefringence of 0.0 to 0.008 and a density of 3.9 to 4.1. Intermediate material has indices of 1.85 - 1.93 for the ordinary ray and 1.84 - 1.97 for the extraordinary ray, birefringence of 0.008 to 0.043, and the density range of 4.1 to 4.65. High zircon refractive indices range from 1.92 - 1.94 (often 1.925) for the ordinary ray and an especially high 1.97 - 2.01 for the extraordinary ray. The birefringence is usually 0.059 but can be as low as 0.036. High zircon also has a greater specific gravity range of 4.65 - 4.8 but its usual density is 4.70.  The refractive index (RI), measured using a refractometer, is an indication of the amount light rays are bent by a mineral.  Birefringence is the difference between the minimum and maximum RI. When birefringence is high, light rays reflect off different parts of the back of a stone causing an apparent doubling of the back facets when viewed through the front facet.

Most gems have a crystalline structure. Crystals have planes of symmetry and are divided into seven symmetry systems. The number of axes, their length, and their angle to each other determine the system to which a crystal belongs.  Blue Zircon belongs to the tetragonal crystal class.   Minerals of the tetragonal crystal system are referred to three mutually perpendicular axes. The two horizontal axes are of equal length, while the vertical axis is of different length and may be either shorter or longer than the other two. Minerals of this system all possess a single 4-fold symmetry axis. They may possess up to four 2-fold axes of rotation, a center of inversion, and up to five mirror planes.


Color               

Zircon occurs in a wide range of colors, but for many years the most popular was the colorless variety, which looks more like diamond than any other natural stone because of its brilliance and dispersion.

Today the most popular color is blue zircon, which is considered an alternative birthstone for December. Most blue zircon is of a pastel blue or sky blue, but some exceptional gems have a bright vivid blue color. Zircon is also available in green, dark red, yellow, brown, and orange.


Cut
 
Round stones are often given a "zircon" cut which is similar to a standard round brilliant cut with an extra tier of facets at the culet.
 
 
Treatments
 
Virtually all blue zircon is heat treated at low temperature.  Heat treatment is often used to produce stones which are colorless, golden brown, or sky blue.
 
AJS Gems fully discloses any and all treatments to our gemstones.
 

Sources 

Zircon is found worldwide in igneous rock formations and gem gravels.  Most gemstone grade Zircon is from placer deposits, in the form of rounded, water worn pebbles.  Thailand, Cambodia, and Sri Lanka, the source of the largest gem crystals and the greatest variety of colors, produce the major portion of the world's zircon gem material. The gem gravels of Thailand are the most important commercial, followed by deposits from Myanmar and Sri Lanka. Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam also produce Zircon as a byproduct of corundum mining. Norway, Germany and Russia produce Zircon but in lesser amounts. Madagascar and Brazil have produced some very large Zircon crystals and Canada and the United States also have small gem grade zircon deposits.  The double-refractive uniaxial tetragonal crystals are often twinned and occur in tones of green, red, yellow, grey, orange, reddish-brown, and blue. 
 
Blue crystals are found in Cambodia, Thailand, and Vietnam, but heat treatment of the red-brown material from this region produces most of the blue gems.
 

Mythology
 
Hindu poets tell of the Kalpa Tree, the ultimate gift to the gods, which was a glowing tree covered with gemstone fruit with leaves of zircon.

In the middle ages, zircon was said to aid sleep, bring prosperity, and promote honour and wisdom in its owner.
 
According to some Zircon relieves pain. It is said to whet one's appetite. Zircon also prevents nightmares and ensures a deep tranquil sleep.
 
Zircon supposedly helps one be more at peace with oneself. Zircon is believed to provide the wearer with wisdom, honor and riches. The loss of luster on a Zircon stone is said to warn of danger.
 
The name probably comes from the Persian word 'zargun', which means 'gold-colored', although zircon comes in a wide range of different colors.

The minerals jargon, hyacinth, and jacinth also contain zircon and these have been known since biblical times and are mentioned in the bible in several places. The existence of a new element within these minerals was not suspected until studies by Martin Heinrich Klaproth in the late 18th century who isolated Zircon in 1789.

Zircon has been around in jewelry for hundreds of years. It is known for its high dispersion (sparkliness) and for many years was used to imitate diamonds.
 
Zircon has long had a supporting role to more well-known gemstones, often stepping in as an understudy when other gems were unavailable.

Because of its association with radioactive elements it is often used in radiometric dating. The oldest object to be discovered on Earth is a tiny grain of Zircon, 4.3 billion years old.
 
Zircon is a Birthstone for the month of December.


 
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