The zircon is a gemstone that is seen in rings or various birthstone items for the month of December.
Instead of diamonds, consumers were purchasing the zircon, a cheaper but comparable gem in the beauty aspect of rings, bracelets, pendants and necklaces. However, over the years, the introduction of the imitation Cubic Zirconium produced fewer sales of the actual zircon gem.
Others began to associate the zircon with the zirconium, which seemed to invalidate the value of the zircon. While the zircon is a synthetic birthstone, it is mined as an accessory mineral in acid igneous rocks. It is also in metamorphic rocks, along with being found often in detrital deposits.
The zircon has a hardness rating of 7, while the diamond has a rating of 10. Often times, the synthetic stone for December birthstone jewelry is the blue zircon. Many zircons on the market today are heat treated to achieve the intense blue and sky blue of a highly valued raw stone. These processed gems are often sold as blue, brown or colorless gems such as they are in natural state, however they are the heat-treated variety.
The most prized of the zircon stones are the red gemstones, which are quite rare. Colorless zircon is the best imitators of the diamond. The zircon stones are attractive and more affordable than the diamond.
While most of these stones are naturally brown, red, yellow, green, blue, black and colorless, they are often heat treated to create a deep blue and stones along the gold line of coloring. The zircon shows great brilliance, fire and clarity, no matter which color they are.
The coloring in the zircon is caused by minute traces of thorium and uranium, which replaces the zircon in the crystal structure. Uranium and thorium inclusions emit radiation, which alters the original structure into a glass like material that forms with colors. Zircon is brittle and the internal stress in each crystal, due to radiation damage and heat-treatment doesn’t deter buyers of these stones. They are still valued due to their stunning beauty.
They are included as one of the Bible stones, showing on the 3rd row of the breastplate of Aaron. Zircon was referred to as ligure.
Wisdom, honor, and wealth are associated with the zircon. The name is derived from zar, which in Arabic means "gold" and gun, which means "color". Green zircon is used in the Hindu religion to represent tree’s foliage, a symbolic offering to the gods. Poets in the 19th century described it as “glowing ensemble of precious stones” that also included sapphires, diamonds and topaz.
Zircon was an amulet for travelers in the 11th century as a protection from disease, injury and insomnia and could also ensure a warm welcome wherever they would travel. People during this era also claimed that the stones would protect them from evil spirits.
During the 14th century, zircon was used to hold off the Black Death, or plague that killed ¼ of the population of Europe.
Even today, the zircon gemstone is used to induce sleep, aid digestion, relieve pain, promote appetite, prevent nightmares and ensures a sound, peaceful sleep. It is also claimed the stones bring wisdom and honor, while raising self-esteem to those who hold them.
These stones are also known to be brittle. When caring for a zircon, one must be aware of certain care procedures. Protection is the most important, as the stone may crack. Be aware of scratches, bumps, and sharp blows to prevent further major damage. Avoid the use of hot water while wearing a ring that may contain a zircon. Sudden temperature changes and household chemicals might also have a negative effect on the stone. While storing the stones, make certain separate boxes are used to prevent the stones from rubbing against each other, so they may crack or break. The heating process used to treat the zircon is one of the production procedures that cause the brittle state of zircon.