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Zircon, Zirconium and Zirconia

Zircon, or zirconium silicate, is the most abundant zirconiumbearing mineral. This specimen of a wine-colored crystal of zircon perched atop a contrasting matrix hails from the Haramosh Mountains of Pakistan. (The Arkenstone,

Despite similar-sounding names, zircon, zirconium, and cubic zirconia refer respectively to a mineral, an element, and a synthetic material. Zircon is the mineral zirconium silicate (ZrSiO4), which contains the elements zirconium, silicon, and oxygen. It crystallizes in the tetragonal system and has a very substantial Mohs hardness of 7.5. With its durability, high index of refraction, and range of pleasing colors, zircon is an attractive gemstone; the colorless variety was once a popular–and sometimes fraudulent– substitute for diamond.

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Rock & Gem March 2019, Special Section : Tools of the Trade, Answers to Agate Questions, Prehistoric Texas : Home to Mammoths & Dinosaurs, And More.....