Feature Gems & Gemology, Spring 2011, Volume 47, No. 1

Brownish Red Zircon from Muling, China

Gem-quality brownish red zircon occurs in alluvium derived from Tertiary alkali basalt at Muling in the northeast Chinese province of Heilongjiang. Rough and cut samples were characterized using standard gemological methods, electron microprobe, LA-ICP-MS, and Raman and UV-Vis-NIR spectroscopy. Internal features consisted of melt inclusions, apatite, magnetite, fluid inclusions, and color zones. The samples contained abundant rare-earth elements, but showed only slight radiation damage and properties consistent with “high” zircon. Although it has yet to be mined commercially, the Muling deposit is a promising source of gem zircon.