There is a false impression about this stone among many purchasers, thought to be either a synthetic gem or a kind of glass imitation. It is not to be confused with CZ; Cubic Zirconia, which is a synthetic gem based on a very different chemical composition. In fact, zircon is a brilliant, crystal clear stone that is found either colorless or in red, orange, yellow and brown hues. It is often used as a diamond substitute in its colorless variety. The colored gems are used as substitutes, as well. The sheer brilliance of zircon can delude an unsuspecting buyer into mistaking green zircon for green tourmalines and yellow zircon for topaz. Zircon is found in three main sources around the world- Tanzania (hence the name ‘tanzanite'), Sri Lanka , Thailand , Cambodia , Vietnam , Burma , Australia and France . It is generally cut, treated and sold in Bangkok .
Zircon is frequently treated and colored in some way to enhance color, and this is the method for creating blue-colored zircon, which is a natural stone, treated for artificial color. Brown zircon is heat-treated to make it blue, and this kind of gem can cost about $15 per carat and up to $550 per carat for very fine- grade, large gems. The set prices for blue zircon are about $30-$400 per carat for gems less than 5 carats and $100-$850 per carat for gems of 5 to 10 carats. Yellow, red, orange and violet zircons; which all appear naturally colored may also be heat-treated to remove the ever-present brown tint in the stone and enhance its natural color. Green zircon is also natural and it is found in Sri Lanka , though it known to emit radioactive energy. Greens, yellowish greens, yellows and oranges will all cost about $25-$155 per carat for gems less than 5 carats and $80-$170 per carat for gems of 5-10 carats. The traditional name for the stone was formerly ‘hyacinth'; a stone believed to have great mystical powers. Women wore zircon-studded jewelry to give them relief from pain the trying hours of childbirth and men wore it as an amulet of protection. Hyacinth was said to give the man wearing it the strength and fortitude of a warrior- clearing the mind of all earthly distractions and empowering the body against the ailments of hardship.
This isn't a very hardy gem, rating only 6.5 on the Moh scale, but it sparkles beautifully in almost any light and is an inexpensive solution for many people who cannot afford expensive gems. Easily broken or chipped, it is considered unsuitable for any open-case settings and is best used for earrings, encased brooches or encased rings that protect it from wear. It should not be cleaned with ultrasonic detergents, but with warm, soapy water. Heat-treated gems are even more susceptible to chipping or breaking, so handle zircon with care.
Another inherit problem with the gem is it's stability. This is a fairly soft stone, rating only 6 on the Moh scale of hardness and it's inherently vulnerable for this reason. Turquoise found in Iran is considered the best not only because of its color, but because it doesn't display this problem. Other countries produce weak, porous stone that crumbles easily or loses color within a year of being mined. It may even change color completely, turning white, pale green or even brown. Furthermore, the stone tends to age; turning either darker with time or strengthening its green undertones. This is one of the reasons that turquoise from any part of the world besides Iran is treated for color. Today the U.S produces fine-quality turquoise that has good color and is reasonably stable, but it still doesn't rival the Iran-produced stone. Also, many fraudulent stones circulate the market, made up of powdered turquoise or unstable stone material bonded with glue or plastic, coated for durability and treated for stability. This is very common for this gem, as are synthetic reproductions.