6th Jun 2014
The Zircon Story Continues – a direct report from the JCK show
We visited with a zircon gem cutter while at the JCK show in Vegas recently. We simply had to see more stone choices in person especially since zircons are so misunderstood in the marketplace, commercially speaking.
We were on a mission to view and compare spinels and zircons. So, here’s the scoop.
First of all, most natural zircons come in the colors of green, brown and orange. Seeing a tray of them was a delicious experience. The brown stones in particular ranged from light to dark cognac and they were very sparkly meeting our expectations in terms of refraction.
As mentioned in a previous post, zircons are dismissed because they are confused with cubic zirconium. Zircons are real gemstones whereas we all know CZ’s are not. Sadly, zircons may never have their moment in the spotlight because of this name “baggage.”
The natural color zircons are heat treated to make the beautiful blue and yellow colors that are also available. Blue zircon is treated yet again to create white zircon. Gem cutters love to talk about this and frankly, so did we (known as “rock hounds” in the trade). There is something compelling about natural stones and their properties of color and brilliance. They are earthy and raw and elegant in a way that other stones are not.
That being said, the heat treated blue zircons were beautiful (though not our favorite because the blue was just a bit too, well, blue). We have noticed blue zircons trending in sales at auctions. There are also web sites claiming their blue zircon is natural – it isn’t.
If one were to create a ratio of dollars per carat to sparkle, zircons, are a great alternative, especially if you happen to love the juicy green color of peridot or the rich, decadent color of a chocolate diamond. The brown and green zircon stones are brilliant, have great color and are natural.
So, what about spinels as compared to zircons? Spinels have less sparkle than zircons but they are all natural and the clarity is excellent. The red, pink and purple colors are intoxicating. One man was shopping for a red spinel for his client in lieu of a ruby which is not surprising because, while spinels are rising in price, they are still an excellent value and they are not heat treated.
It is flanked with plump pear shaped tsavorites, known as green garnets; also very rare.
All in all, spinels are probably more of a collector”s choice but dealers, jewelers, and others in the trade also stash a few choice zircons in their collection.