December Birthstone Zircon

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Zircon is a beautiful and underappreciated gemstone, whose fame and popularity have been usurped by the newer fake diamond, cubic zirconia.

Zircon is said to hang from the Hindu wishing tree and to protect a wearer from bad dreams and varicose veins. Blue zircon, the most popular variety, is considered one of the gemstones for the month of December.

Many Colored Zircon

Zircon is a gemstone of many colors, made of the mineral zirconium silicate. Zircon varieties can be colorless, yellow, blue, green, red, orange, brown, and most rarely purple. With its wide range of colors, zircon has been used to fake or substitute for almost every precious gemstone.

The most popular varieties of zircon are pale blue and yellow – these gems are sometimes naturally occurring zircon colors but are sometimes heat-treated to alter their color (although sunlight or UV light may return these stones to their original colors). Zircon is heavier than most gemstones by size and has a hardness of 6.5 to 7.5 on the Mohs scale. Despite its hardness, the stone is brittle and wears easily unless cared for.

With its brilliant luster and fire, clear zircon is sometimes called “Matura diamond” and used to simulate real diamonds, but this has become less common since the creation of zircon’s manmade relative, cubic zirconium. Zircon and cubic zirconia are two distinct gemstones, however.

Zircon in Myth and History

Hindu mythology tells of a wishing tree or “Kalpa tree” that provided everything one could wish for. The tree grew gemstones in place of fruits, and its leaves are said to have been made of zircon.

In Europe of the Middle Ages, zircon was said to bring peaceful sleep and prosperity. It was also believed to have a cosmic connection to the planet Pluto. The name “zircon” probably comes from the Persian “zargun” which means gold-colored. Another possible source is the Arabic “zarqun,” vermillion red.

Zircon is one of the oldest materials on Earth. A fragment found in Australia is 4.4 billion years old (only 150 million years younger than the Earth itself), and a meteorite site in Chile yielded zircon that formed roughly 4.6 billion years ago. Because it can be easily dated by its uranium decay, zircon is used in placing the timing of geologic processes.

Magical Significance and Powers of the Zircon

Like most gemstones, zircon has been attributed with a list of healing and magical powers. Zircon is said to:

  • aid sleep
  • bring prosperity
  • promote honor, wisdom and humor in its wearer
  • heal varicose veins and blisters

Zircon Gemstone in Jewelry

Blue zircon was very popular in the first half of the twentieth century, but as cubic zirconia gains in popularity, the zircon has become harder to find in fine jewelry. Nevertheless, it does exist and is seen in rings, bracelets, necklaces, earrings, and pendants.

Zircon is usually set in a brilliant-cut or the unique “zircon cut” which is similar to a round brilliant cut, with an extra row of facets at the edges. Zircon is found in Cambodia, Brazil, Cambodia, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, Thailand, Korea, Nigeria, Tanzania, Madagascar, Mozambique, Myanmar, Australia, and worldwide.


  • American Gem Trade Association, “Zircon,”, 2009.
  • Canadian Jewellers Association, “December: Tanzanite, Zircon, Turquoise,”, 2007.
  • Gem Select, “Zircon Information,”, 2007.
  • International Colored Gemstone Association, “Zircon,”, 2009.

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