If you are in the market for a gemstone that is beautiful, natural, and won’t leave a significant dent in your wallet, you are in luck. Today, our AZ gemologist is going to profile an up and coming gemstone that is gaining more popularity in the jewelry market: zircon, which was recently profiled in National Jeweler magazine. Continue reading to find out more about this gemstone.

A natural mineral, zircon is a gemstone that has been used for thousands of years in jewelry products. It is most often compared to a diamond in terms of the sparkle it creates and, at one time, was used as a less expensive option for diamonds. However, this AZ gemologist sees the zircon far less often than many other gemstones and it overall is a more rare find in the jewelry world but that seems to be changing. As reported in the National Jeweler article, zircon is slowly becoming a more popular, less expensive choice for designers and consumers alike as they become more aware at the different color and brilliance options available for this stone.

While available in colorless versions, the most popular color option for zircon is blue–the hue most often seen is a soft, pastel shade–followed by more earthy tones. This AZ gemologist would also like potential consumers to know that other popular colors that are more rare and more expensive include purple, red, and green; the prices on these gemstone colors can run as much as four times the price as the colorless and blue shades. Interestingly, these hues can be adjusted through a heating process, making them either more intense or several different colors. Running the gemstone through a second heating process also ensures the stone is protected from sunlight, which can darken the stone and cause it to lose some luster.

The gemstones are sourced across the world although most are sold and imported from Africa and Asia. For example, most of the blue-colored gemstones come from Cambodia and Tanzania has also produced some beautiful gemstones with great clarity. Other sources include Myanmar, Mozambique, Pakistan, and Australia.

Our AZ gemologist recommends zircon for clients who are looking for less expensive alternatives to diamonds, topaz, citrine, and even rose quartz. These gemstones are also great if you are looking for jewelry that features smaller stones. While cheaper, zircon is also a higher quality and more natural options compared to other manufactured alternatives. Our AZ gemologist also recommends this for the December birthstone if you are looking for the sparkle that turquoise cannot give.

One last tip for zircon is to not confuse it for cubic zirconia, which is a common mistake since the names appear similar. However, the major difference between the two stones is based on composition. Zircon is a naturally-occurring mineral that is mined from the earth while cubic zirconia is a synthetic stone made to imitate a diamond. The only similarity between the two is they each contain zirconium within their chemical structures.