Zircon Rings: Our Guide to a Uniquely Colorful Natural Gemstone

Zircon is a magnificent and underrated natural gemstone that has been worn and adored for centuries.
32-carat blue zircon and diamond platinum ring, 1940
32-carat blue zircon and diamond platinum ring, 1940, offered by Pierre/Famille

Imagine if you could capture the sky, encircle it with diamonds and hold it in your hand. The magic of blue zircon rings is like that, a piece of sky slipped onto your finger. It isn’t just its sumptuous cerulean blue, with a depth that seems to stretch into forever; or the fact that blue zircon changes color with the sun, growing lighter until it is placed again in darkness; or even that zircon in its many colors is itself nearly as old as the earth, if not the heavens, dating back 4.4 billion years on a planet that is 4.5 billion years old.

Rather, the real splendor of zircon jewelry is its scintillation, its extraordinary sparkle, what Reshma Kothari of Diagem Imports, or DGI, calls its “brilliance and impressive fire, with flames of color that give off a lot of sparkle and shine — more so than other colored stones.” Indeed, notes jeweler Paolo Costagli, “because of its sparkly appearance, zircon lends itself to be worn as a single accessory. If you have a nice large zircon cocktail ring, you don’t need anything else.”

The Beauty of Zircon Rings

That brilliance and fire are making zircon rings increasingly popular as engagement rings. “People are leaning toward a bolder expression of their love,” Kothari explains. “One’s style, personal experience and love story can sometimes be better illustrated through a colored stone.”

“Zircons are unique, exotic and more rare than, say, a diamond, which is readily available all over the industry,” she adds.

The Range of Colors of Zircon Rings

While blue zircons are the most frequently sought after, zircons stand out from most other gems in that, like diamonds, they can be found in several colors, from oranges and yellows to greens to pinks and reds. All except white zircons are lightly heat treated to create or enhance their colors, though nearly all are naturally pleochroic.

That is, the stones can appear to be two or more colors (depending on the cut and angles at which they are viewed) thanks to their double refraction of light. It’s important to note that zircon should not be confused with cubic zirconia, a lab-produced stone unrelated to zircon.

Types of Zircon Rings

That rainbow of colors and light effects makes zircon an especially versatile and attractive stone for jewelers, who increasingly are incorporating colored zircons into their designs, not only for engagement rings, but for cocktail rings, like Zorab Creation’s blue zircon Bird of Paradise ring.

Zircon is also a beautiful choice for promise solitaires, such as this elegant Art Deco ring offered by Howard’s Antique Jewelry, and friendship rings, like this sweet floral ring from Peter Suchy, or rings just for the joy of wearing them, like this one with red and smoky Cambodian zircons from Gemjunky.

How to Care for a Zircon Ring

Platinum, Zircon and Diamond Cocktail Ring, 1920
8.86-carat zircon and diamond platinum cocktail ring, 1920, offered by Antique Ring Boutique

Nonetheless, for all its versatility and allure, zircon is not a stone best worn every day. The gem registers 7.5 on the Mohs hardness scale, which means that while harder than many other gemstones, it can chip more easily than rubies, sapphires and diamonds.

Hence, “it must be treated with the respect it deserves,” Costagli advises. “Therefore, I would not recommend wearing it during your combat class at the gym or while gardening. And like any type of jewelry, warm water, hand soap and a soft brush will return your zircon safely to its original brilliancy.”

Keeping zircon in a dark place when it’s not being worn, wrapped well in a soft cloth or in a velvet box, will also help preserve the luster, the captivating radiance of this ancient, timeless jewel, eternal as the heavens and the stars.

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