Zircon isn’t a very well-known gemstone and it’s a shame because it has a brilliance and fire that rivals diamonds, and which has for centuries caused confusion between the two. Now the confusion is more likely to stem from the similarity of its name to cubic zirconia, a synthetic diamond simulant, also very fiery but a very different beast. For those of you interested in such things, unlike diamond, zircon is doubly refractive; that is, when light enters the stone, it is refracted into two rays travelling in slightly different directions and at different speeds. The double refraction in zircon is so extreme that it is eye-visible in larger stones. This differentiates it from diamond which is singly refractive. You can see this effect in the picture above; the doubled facet edges through the stone, and in fact, can make the stones sometimes appear rather blurry.
Despite its relative obscurity now, zircon was popular in Victorian times, both as a diamond simulant and as a gemstone in its own right. It comes in a range of autumnal shades; reds, greens, yellows, browns and of course, white. However, the most popular and well-known colour – accounting according to the GIA for 80% of all zircon sales – is blue. From pale to deep blue, this unique shade of greenish-blue also commands the highest prices. It’s almost always heat-treated to attain its characteristic colour. I currently have in stock (from left to right above) a 7x9mm scissor cut octagon, a mixed cut 5mm round, a 7x5mm mixed cut oval, a brilliant cut 2.5mm round, and a 6x4mm mixed cut oval. To browse my zircon section, click here.
Zircon is a stone that seems to lend itself to a lot of classic zircon and diamond engagement settings, which are beautiful, but I’ve compiled a pinterest board full of more contemporary and funky blue zircon jewellery. I love this blue zircon and 18k gold engagement ring by lolide. Anyone who knows me knows that I love textured metal and this band sets off the deep blue of the zircon perfectly. I like the combo of the yellow and white gold and by the way, this is a unisex ring, and I can see that working.
Or how about Jewellery by Francine’s Sterling Silver and Blue Zircon necklace? I love the way that the shape of the round stone is echoed by the silver rings and this is a piece that is sleek and restrained, where every detail counts.
Possibly because of its unfamiliarity, zircon is one of the hardest stones in which to find funky, contemporary designs. The zircon in this ring, below by Metamorphosis Jewelry, is kept company by a classic pairing of diamonds and set in white and rose gold, but its shape and form is out of this world.
Speaking of out of this world, Jacob Albee’s cuff bracelet is formed from Gibeon meteorite, and set with a single, 3.03 carat zircon. Peppered with diamonds and inlaid with gold, this is contemporary, stark and original, the gold echoing and highlighting the natural striations of the Widmansttatan pattern (didn’t that make me sound clever? Actually I just came across that term on Wikipedia ). Looking at it, I just want to touch it.
I love these solid 18k gold maple leaf earrings, by Patrick Burt and not just because I’m married to a Canadian! It’s nice to see the zircon paired with gold, rather than silver, as it gives it a completely different feel. These leaves were individually moulded and cast and then set with the zircons that take on a warmer feel set against the gold.
More gold; this is a-mazing, right?! My mum is freaked out by octopuses (octopi?). When my older daughter was young, she had a furry, squeaky octopus and I could make my mum shriek by playfully tossing the thing at her. Anyway, this is a ring of strange beauty; a 4.5mm blue zircon set in a swirling set of 14k gold tentacles, by Marty Magic. This is not a piece that would go un-noticed, nor I imagine, un-remarked upon. Love it. Love the texture, the undulating lines, the complexity, and, oh… I fear it *might* give me nightmares. But I still think it’s amazing.
And finally, black gold is a ‘thing’ right? I keep seeing more and more of it and I’m not sure how I feel about it, but it certainly appears to make that zircon pop. This ring by David K Designs is made from rhodium plated white gold and set with a lab grown stone – sharp intake of breath, I know, but I guess you can make a case for lab-grown stones… They are chemically, physically and optically identical to natural ones, they’re just grown in a lab rather than dug out of the ground, and as long as the seller is upfront about what they are, I guess they have a place, but…I don’t sell them and yes, I do have the equipment and skills to tell the difference! This ring, accented with black diamonds, is supposed to be for men, but hmmm, I can’t see my old man sporting it! Anyway, something different, isn’t it?
Look out for more ‘gemstone’ specials, or if you have a piece you’d like me to feature, please contact me. I’m going to be looking at tourmaline next.