|ZIRCON MINERAL FACTS|
|The Gem and Mineral Collector's Photo Gallery by Nevada Outback|
Zircon Mineral Facts:
Chemical Formula: ZrSiO4
some shade of brown; also gray,
green, red, blue,
yellow and colorless.
Cleavage: The cleavage of zircon is indistinct on (110) and (111). Its fracture is conchoidal.
Luster:. Adamantine, transparent, translucent and opaque; The transparent forms are used as a gemstone.
Optics: (Refractive Index) = w=1.9302, e=1.9832.
It resists weathering, and so it is concentrated as a residual heavy material in alluvial sands where it if found frequently as small rounded pebbles. It has been found as a heavy mineral in a number of gold bearing regions in stream sands, often closely associated with gold. It has been found along with gold nuggets in the gold bearing gravels of the Urals in Russia, with native gold in the sands of Australia, etc.
Red Zircon Crystals, Tanzania
Localities and Origins:
It occurs at Arendal,
Hakedal and other places in Norway; Litchfield and other points in
Maine; Diana, in Lewis Co., and a large number of other places in New
York; at Reading, Penn.; Henderson and other Counties, in North
Carolina and Templeton, Ottawa Co., Quebec.
A small quantity of zircon is usually obtained from
Henderson Co., N. C., but it rarely amounts to more than a few hundred
pounds. The mineral occurs in a pegmatite and the soil overlying its
outcrop. It is obtained by crushing the rock and hand picking. Usually
there is a little also separated from the sands in North Carolina and
South Carolina that are washed for monazite. A pegmatite dike, rich
in zircon, has been prospected in the Wichita Mountains, Okla., but
no mining has yet been attempted.
Transparent orange-colored zircons are sometimes used as gems since they possess a high index of refraction and attractive adamantine luster so it consequently has a great deal of "fire." The gem varieties of this mineral vary in tint from colorless, through yellowish brown to reddish brown to red. A fine blue color is produced from some of the brownish shades by heat treatment. The results of the treatment are permanent. Before the age of synthetic substitutes, the colorless gem form of zircon was used as a substitute for diamond, because while resembling the diamond they were available for a much lower price. The orange, brown and reddish transparent kinds of this gem are sometimes known as hyacinth. The principal occurrences of the gem form of the mineral are in Sri Lanka, the home of the gem hyacinth. Gem zircons are found in the stream sands at Matura in Sri Lanka, but have also been recovered in Thailand, Myanmar and at several locations in Africa, including Tanzania. Gem zircon has also been mined in Australia.
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Please note that the author, Chris Ralph, retains all copyrights to this entire document and it may not be reproduced, quoted or copied without permission.
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