By Danielle Olivia Tefft, Jewelry Writer
Zircon, tanzanite, blue topaz and turquoise have been designated December birthstones. When you think of these lovely December gemstones, you probably envision the color blue. Even the most popular shade of the naturally occurring gemstone zircon, (not to be confused with cubic zirconia which is manmade), is a tantalizing, “crystal pools” shade of blue. It looks much like blue topaz.
But did you know that zircon is found in a rainbow of other colors, as well? White or clear zircon is the second most popular shade of zircon. White zircon was a popular substitute for diamonds during the early 1900s.
Zircon is also available in red, orange, yellow, green and purple hues. There is even black zircon for all you Goth – inspired souls. All these varieties of zircon provide December babies with a bounty of choices when it comes to wearing their birthstone. Their choice can be as unique as they are!
An array of colors isn’t zircon’s only appeal. It’s a quite fascinating gemstone. Zircon is believed to be the oldest mineral on Earth. Specimens from Australia have been proven to be over 4 billion years old!
Prior to the Renaissance, zircon was believed to have mystical powers that protected its owners from sickness and evil. It also guaranteed its owner financial success and helped attain honor, wisdom and tranquil sleep.
Aside from diamonds, zircon has one of the highest dispersion rates of light among gemstones. It produces a breathtaking, fiery rainbow of color when moved side to side.
Zircon is found worldwide, though most gem quality stone comes from mines in Thailand and Cambodia. It is also mined extensively in Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Vietnam, China, Africa, and Australia. Zircon is fairly hard, commanding a 6.5 to 7.5 on the Mohs hardness scale (diamonds are a 10). In nature, colored zircon is caused by impurities. These impurities are enhanced in gem quality zircon by heat treatments. With the exceptions of green and brown zircon, other colors are normally obtained by heat treating brown zircon. Even clear zircon can be heat treated to provide a purer white.
Heat treated zircon is more brittle than other gemstones of the same hardness. Zircon must be handled with care when worn on a daily basis to avoid abrasions and chips. Therefore, it is best suited for pendants, earrings and protected settings in rings and bracelets.
It is best to clean your zircon gemstone jewelry with warm water and mild dish soap. Ultrasonic and steam cleaning might damage it. Also, make sure to keep your zircon jewelry separated from other pieces as it can be susceptible to abrasion and chips.
If you are a December baby who is tired of singing the blues when it comes to her birthstone jewelry, consider adding one or more of the various rainbow hues of zircon to your collection. You will be wearing a precious gemstone as old as the planet itself with historical importance and unsurpassed brilliance.
Did you know zircon was available in so many colors? Do you have any favorite zircon pieces of jewelry? Tell us in the comments section and sign up for this blog so you don't miss an article about gems and jewelry!
Danielle Olivia Tefft is a professional writer with a lifelong passion for gems and jewelry. She is a GIA accredited jewelry professional and was the owner of online antique and vintage jewelry shop, Treasure Box Antiques for many years. Current projects include writing jewelry related web copy and blogs for clients worldwide. When she is not writing, she spends time in the garden, spoiling her cats and traveling with her significant other. Would you like to hire her? Would you like to advertise on her website or blog? Visit danielleoliviatefftwrites.com for clips, terms, her media kit and more information.
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The Found in the Jewelry Box Blog is my attempt to teach others about the wonderful world of gems and jewelry, past and present. Please enjoy!