Zircon is a silicate of zirconium. Its color can be yellow, brown, orange, red, violet, blue, green or it can be colorless; it covers the entire color spectrum. Its appearance can be transparent to translucent.
Its variety in terms of colors is due to the presence of radioactive elements such as uranium and thorium in very small quantities.
It has a high refractive index and is an excellent disperser, which is why it has a high brilliance and an intense fire that makes it visually similar to diamonds, although without its characteristic hardness.
The value of a zircon depends on its color, clarity and size. The most valuable color is blue.
The most common zircons are grayish-brown and reddish. The brown ones are often heat treated to obtain colorless or blue zircons. Exposing them to sunlight for a long time can cause them to lose some of their color.
Its name would come from Arabic "Zarqun", red or from Persian "Zargun", golden.
Zircon is the oldest mineral on Earth that we know of. Dated specimens from Western Australia were revealed to be around 4.4 billion years old. Due to their resistance and age, they represent a time capsule of the geological history of our planet.
The reddish-brown variety used to be called "hyacinth". Under this name it is mentioned in the Bible: we find it among the 12 stones of Aaron's Breastplate whose confection would have been requested by God through Moses. In the book of Revelations it is also linked to the foundation of New Jerusalem.
In Hindu mythology, there is talk of the mystical Kalpavriksha tree, which is said to be capable of fulfilling any wish. This divine tree would have green zircons for leaves according to Sanskrit writings.
Gem of harmony, courage and strength, since the Middle Ages it is believed that zircon is capable of facilitating sleep, reinforcing honor, propitiating wisdom and attracting prosperity. Worn as a talisman of protection it would ward off calamities and evil spirits.
It is deemed to generate serenity, making moral and psychic strength available to overcome states of sadness and fear. It aligns the physical body with the psychic bodies by participating in the regulation of the energetic flows of the body.
A soothing stone, it is said to relieve aches, blisters and cramps. It would also be beneficial for the cardiovascular system besides improving libido and preventing infections. It would be of great help for those who suffer from respiratory allergies, asthma and lung infections.
Jewelry grade zircons are found in deposits in Cambodia, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Burma (Myanmar), Australia, the United States, South Africa and France.
Australia currently accounts for more than a third of world production.
It is often confused with zirconia, a chemical compound that can be synthesized from zircon and also found in nature with the mineral baddeleyite.
Zirconia is used as an affordable substitute for diamond but also as a refractory and insulating material, as an abrasive, in aircraft engines, as a pigment for ceramics or as an alternative to porcelain in dental pieces.