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Zircon crystal from Brazil

According Wikipedia, the modern birthstones for December are turquoise and blue topaz. One of the traditional gems is zircon, don't confuse it with zirconia or cubic zirconia! Zircon is a mineral belonging to the group of nesosilicates. The natural color of zircon varies between colorless, yellow-golden, red, pink, brown, blue, green, hazel, and black. The color of zircons sometimes can be changed by heat treatment. Depending on the amount of heat applied, colorless, blue, and golden-yellow zircons can be made.

Colorless specimens that show gem quality are a popular substitute for diamond; these specimens are also known as Matura diamond. Yellow zircon is called hyacinth, from the flower hyacinthus, whose name is of Ancient Greek origin. In the Middle Ages all yellow stones of East Indian origin were called hyacinth, but today this term is restricted to the yellow zircons.

The name either derives from the Syrian word ZARGONO, from the Arabic word ZARQUN, meaning vermilion, or from the Persian ZARGUN, meaning golden-colored. These words are corrupted into "jargoon", a term applied to light-colored zircons. The English word "zircon" is derived from "zirkon", which is the German adaptation of these words.

Faceted zircon
click to enlarge

Zircon is a remarkable mineral, if only for its almost ubiquitous presence in the crust of Earth. Large zircon crystals are seldom abundant. Their average size is about 0.10.3 mm, but they can also grow to sizes of several centimeters (a few inches).

Zircon is a common accessory mineral that occurs worldwide. Noted occurrences include: Australia, Barbados, Russia (Ural Mountains), Italy, Norway, Sri Lanka, India, Indonesia, Thailand, Cambodia, Republic of South Africa, Madagascar, Canada, the United States (Massachusetts, New York, North Carolina, Colorado, Texas). Australia leads the world in zircon mining, producing 37% of the world total and accounting for 40% of world economic demonstrated resources for the mineral.

Zircon has long had a supporting role to more well known gemstones, replacing them when they were unavailable. In the middle ages, zircon was said to aid sleep, bring prosperity, and promote honor and wisdom in its owner. Zircon jewelry should be stored carefully because although zircon is relatively hard, it can abrade and facets can chip.

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