Zircon has been known in the jewellery industry since ancient times. The popularity and importance of this semi-precious gemstone grew and declined throughout history depending on fashion trends. However, an extremely important moment occurs in the second half of the 20th century when colorless and translucent zirconium was polished in the same fashion as diamonds, and it became a major attraction among fashion jewellery and bijouterie producers because it was affordable to middle class buyers.
Old as a rock, old as a Zircon we might say
The name zircon is thought to originate from the Persian language, from the word zargun, which means "golden colored". This stone is among the oldest known minerals on Earth. Some specimens found in Australia were more than 4 billion years old, which makes Zircon the odlest rock on the world. Imagine, once you take your Zircon jewellery you don't consider very valuable, it may be the oldest thing you will ever touch!
Since Zircon is a hard stone, it can be cut as a brilliant ("...diamond or other gemstone, cut in a particular form with numerous facets so as to have exceptional brilliance"). In addition, Zircon has a considerable light refraction capacity, even higher than the diamond itself, and because of its colorless translucence and diamond-like cut, this stone has an exceptional brilliance and lively dispersion of light, making it as beautiful as a Diamond. Of course, zircons are only considered good imitations of diamond gems. Unlike plastic substitutes that are now mass produced and cannot disperse light at all, or glass crystals (like the well-known Swarovski crystals that will only reflect and not disperse light, zircon is in many aspects very similar to the highly valued Diamond gems. (Now, this will make us ask an eternal question - if Zircon were as rare as a Diamond, would its value be as high?). Look at the photo to the right of RubyCharm silver ring, a Blue Topaz ring garnished with blue Zircons on the side. We call this one Divine Wisdom of Virtue.
In Indian mythology, precious stones were used for meditation. Kalpa trees are also known as Indian holy trees. This holy tree was completely made of precious stones, and the leaves themselves were made of zircon, as described by Hindu poets. In the Middle Ages, it was believed that zircon aided in a calm sleep, and that it provided wealth as well as promoted honour and wisdom for the one who possessed it. (Today, as honour and wisdom are needed somewhat less, it is expected that zircon’s worth is less too.)
Scientists have discovered that Zircon contains uranium and thorium. The level of presence in these elements influence physical properties of the stone. There are several varieties of Zircon conditioned by its colour. We have a pale pink, red, red-yellow, milky, yellow-orange, green and colorless. Every variety of Zircon according to their colour has a specific name, and one of the most famous is Hyacinth, a reddish or red-yellow coloured variety.
It is interesting that the process of heating coloured stones to a temperature of 700-800 degrees Celsius in order to obtain colourless specimens was known from ancient times in the Far East, where also the largest deposits of zircon has been found (Thailand, Cambodia, Sri Lanka, Burma, Vietnam). This colorless model, obtained by heating, is now known by the name of Cubic Zirconium. On the right you can see a photo of RubyCharm silver ring called Harmony of Sounds.
In terms of colouring, Zircons are otherwise very unstable. Colorless zircons particularly are affected by direct sunlight. If exposed for a significant period of time, it will eventually begin to darken, to lose its luster and acquire a sort of dirty appearance. Therefore, it is best kept in a dark place, such as a drawer or box. Zircon is sensitive to impact and so we should be very careful with this stone. These traits are also the crucial difference between diamonds and zircons, as diamonds are unaffected by sunlight and very enduring.
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