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Zircon

Zircon is a colorful gem with high refraction and fire that’s unfairly confused with cubic zirconia.

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Cushion Cut

This 21.05-ct. cushion cut, orange zircon is from Tanzania.

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Fall Color

This gem displays a warm autumnal reddish brown.

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Seeing Double

Zircon’s strong double refraction causes double images of facets.

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Cinnamon Brown

Like this rare untreated 48.50-ct. crystal, zircon is often brownish.

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Pointed Cap

Zircon crystals are often four sided and capped with pyramid shapes.

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Ubiquitous Gem

Zircon crystals grow in many different types of rock.

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Tools

Buyer's Guide

Zircon is not a commonly known among jewelry buyers, although the gem has many beautiful appearances. There are earth tones, cinnamon, sherry, yellow, orange, red and the famous zircon blue colors.

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What To Look For

Color

Red and green zircons have market value as collectors’ stones, and cat’s-eye zircons occasionally come on the market as curios. Collectors love zircon’s variety of colors, consumers seem most enamored of just one—blue. Dealers report that at least 80 percent of zircons sold are blue.

Clarity

Zircons are relatively free of inclusions. But many untreated zircons have a cloudy or smoky appearance. If it’s extreme, it can be a negative factor. Most zircon that is faceted for use in jewelry is free of inclusions visible to the eye. Zircons with eye visible inclusions will drop in value.

Cut

Cutters usually fashion zircon in the brilliant style to take advantage of its luster and fire. Zircon can also be found in step cuts, which have rows of parallel facets, and mixed cuts, which are a combination of brilliant and step-cut facets.

Carat Weight

The supply of zircon is generally limited, and typical sizes depend on color. Blue or green stones normally range from 1 carat to 10 carats and yellows and oranges up to around 5 carats. Reds and purples are usually smaller.

Zircon Quality Factors: The Comprehensive Guide

Tips & Advice

1. Store zircon carefully.

Although zircon is relatively hard, it can be brittle. Facet junctions can abrade if they rub against other gems. Dealers always store each zircon separately, not mixed in a parcel with other gems.

2. Find a retailer who specializes in gems.

Zircons are unusual connoisseur gems. To see an interesting selection, you’ll have to find a retailer who really knows and loves gems.

3. Start a zircon collection.

Along with spinel, zircon is one of the gems that dealers and gemologists collect. Rare and beautiful, zircon is still relatively unknown and affordable. It comes in many colors from many different localities so a collection can continue to expand.