The Newest & Oldest Gemstone: And It's Not The Diamond!
by Kitty Crawl
Zircon is actually the oldest known mineral on Earth; the oldest samples are even older than the moon, which formed about 4 billion years ago.
Zircon was the first crystal to form in molten granite as it cooled to form rock. Low zircon formed as the result of a process associated with the presence of uranium and thorium. The natural radioactivity disrupts the crystal structure and produces the changes in color and density through a process known as metamictization.
Most zircon deposits are alluvial. Sri Lanka is the best known source for green metamict 'low' zircon. Specimens are also found in Burma (Myanmar), and may possibly exist in other well-known zircon deposits in Cambodia. Most zircon deposits come from Burma, though Australia boasts the oldest deposits dating back more over 4.4 billion years. Other notable sources include Brazil, Korea, Madagascar, Mozambique, Nigeria, Tanzania, Thailand and Vietnam.
Zircon in its purest form is completely colorless (white), but owing to trace impurities, it can occur in a wide range of interesting colors, including yellow, orange, red, green, blue, violet, brown and combinations in between. Yellow-brown to orange and red zircon are the most common occurrences, along with colorless. Blue is the most popular, but its color is obtained through the heating of brown zircon, usually from Cambodia and Burma. Due to pleochroism, blue zircon can look greenish from certain angles. Medium dark, pure blue stones have the most value. Green zircon is very rare and typically very expensive.
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