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Blue zircon: as old as time

Earrings with zircon stones

Blue zircon: as old as time

The zircon is the most brilliant of all blue gemstones. It has a refractive index that rivals the diamond and considered more rare.

It is hard to imagine that Cambodia’s remote Ratanakiri province, with its red earth and rubber plantations, is the world’s main source of the beautiful zircon stone. Miners work side by side with the plantation owners who tolerate them to set up their digging in the ten-meter aisles that divide the rubber trees. This co working situation works because the zirconium silicate lumps are found at around 10 meters deep while the rubber tree roots reach down to 5 meters. In other countries the silicate can be white, yellow, orange, green, rose or brown producing orange, yellow, green or white zircon gemstones. But it is only in Ratanakiri that the brown zirconium silicate turns blue.

 

Ancient

As the world’s oldest mineral, zircon has been worn and treasured since ancient times. The earliest mention of Zircon is in the Bible, as one of the twelve gems worn by the high priests of Israel. Its popularity grew in the 16th century when Italian jewellers liked to feature the gemstone in their designs. By the 19th century, zircon was also widely used in Victorian jewellery.

A fragment of zircon was found in western Australia in 2014 and classed as the world’s oldest object dated to when the earth’s crust was formed and cooled. It is thanks to this heat resistance, that zircon can be heat treated in a furnace to reveal its true brilliance in colour and refraction.

 

Cubic zirconium vs zircon

It is easy to confuse cubic zirconium with natural zircon. But cubic zirconium is a fairly new discovery and synthetically made from zirconium oxide, a very different ingredient. Because it is man made, cubic zirconium does not have much perceived value and is known as a cheaper substitute for a diamond. Subsequently, as the names get mixed up, it is this reputation that also affects the natural zircon, although the stones are very different.

 

December birth stone

If you were born in December, this is your birth stone. Take care of your zircon jewellery. Zircons have a certain brittleness so that the facets can wear down. This is why we offer only earrings and necklaces with our Cambodian zircons.

 

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