Zircon

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MFA Acc. #: 1998.569

Description

A natural mineral ore of zirconium silicate primarily used to produce zirconium. The zircon tetragonal prism crystals are found on beaches or in river placer deposits in association with silica containing minerals. The hard, refractory, but brittle crystals come in a wide range of colors: yellow, green, blue, red to brown. Clear zircon crystals, sold as Matura diamonds, make very brilliant gemstones because of their high refractive index. Clear yellow to red zircon, called hyacinth or jacinth, is also used as a gem. Ancient gems of hessonite garnets were also called jacinth and hyacinth which led to some being incorrectly labeled zircon (Ogden 1982). Zircons from Sri Lanka have been used for 2000 years. Large deposits are found in Australia. Other sources are Brazil, India, Pakistan, Thailand, New Zealand, Myanmar (formerly Burma), Western Africa, Norway (Seiland), Russia, Canada (Ontario) and the U.S. (Florida, Colorado, South Carolina, New Jersey).

Zircon

Synonyms and Related Terms

zirconium silicate; zirkelite; zirconite; zircon sand; Matura diamonds; jacinth; hyacinth; jargoon; jargon; Zircopax [Titanium Alloy Mfg.]; Superpax; Ultrox [M&T Chemical]; cubic zirconia; Zirkon (Deut.); zircón (Esp.); circón (Esp.); zircon (Fr.); zirkoon (Ned.); cyrkon (Pol.); zircão (Port.)

Raman Lyon

Zirconlyon.jpg

Raman Parma

Zirconitaly1.jpg

Raman Jacinth MFA

Jacinth yellow zircon.jpg

Chemical structure

Zircon.jpg


Other Properties

Insoluble in acids.

Tetragonal system with square prismatic crystals.

Fracture = uneven. Luster = adamantine to vitreous. Streak = colorless.

Pleochroic. Fluorescence = some show dull yellow color; some may phosphoresce.

Heating brown zircon crystals produces strong colors (blue, green, red, etc.) that fade slowly with time or with UV exposure.

Composition ZrSiO4
CAS 14940-68-2
Mohs Hardness 6.0 - 7.5
Melting Point 2550
Density 4.6-4.7
Molecular Weight mol. wt. = 183.31
Refractive Index 1.94; 1.98

Hazards and Safety

Contact and inhalation of zirconium compounds may cause nodules under the skin and in the lungs.

Fisher Scientific: MSDS

Additional Information

° J. Ogden, Jewelry of the Ancient World, Rizzoli International Publications, New York, 1982. ° Mineralogy Database: Zircon

Comparisons

Properties of Common Gemstones

Natural and Simulated Diamonds


Additional Images


Sources Checked for Data in Record

  • Jack Odgen, Jewellery of the Ancient World, Rizzoli International Publications Inc., New York City, 1982
  • R.F.Symmes, T.T.Harding, Paul Taylor, Rocks, Fossils and Gems, DK Publishing, Inc., New York City, 1997
  • Encyclopedia Britannica, http://www.britannica.com Comment: "zircon" Encyclopædia Britannica [Accessed December 11, 2001]. (color photo and tech Info)
  • C.W.Chesterman, K.E.Lowe, Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Rocks and Minerals, Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 1979
  • G.S.Brady, Materials Handbook, McGraw-Hill Book Co., New York, 1971 Comment: p. 890
  • The Merck Index, Susan Budavari (ed.), Merck Research Labs, Whitehouse Station, NJ, 12th Edition, 1996 Comment: entry 9986
  • Michael McCann, Artist Beware, Watson-Guptill Publications, New York City, 1979

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