Gemstones and Birthstones: Blue Zircon — A December Alternative for Turquoise

Hard as it is to believe, some people born in December don’t like turquoise. It may be the color. It may be the fact that it is opaque. Perhaps they prefer transparent faceted stones. You are so lucky. You have two alternatives to turquoise. (And you thought being born in the same month as Christmas was a downer.)

ABOVE: Gorgeous loose and set blue zircons. Photo Mia Dixon. Courtesy The Collector Fine Jewelry.

This beautiful 18k yellow gold ring is set with three blue zircons totaling 4.76 carats, and 12 diamonds with a total weight of .12 carats. Courtesy Eve Alfillé Gallery & Studio.

This beautiful 18k yellow gold ring is set with three blue zircons totaling 4.76 carats, and 12 diamonds with a total weight of .12 carats. Courtesy Eve Alfillé Gallery & Studio.

The first one is blue zircon. These hard, brilliant and beautiful stones don’t get half the attention they should. They come in a variety of shades of blue, often mimicking turquoise’s greenish blue. And if it’s the blue of your birthstone you don’t like, zircons come in a variety of other shades of yellow, orange, green and brown. In fact, zircons may have been the original “hyacinth” or “jacinth” of ancient history, however, the term was often applied to many yellow to orange stones.

Beautiful blue zircon is a great alternative birthstone choice for December.

It doesn’t get better for a blue zircon than this matched pair of Cambodian blue zircons with a total weight of 7.09 carats. Photo Mia Dixon. Courtesy Pala International.

Zircons have often been confused with other gemstones as they’re part of the plethora of minerals that can be found in the gem gravels of southeastern Asia. They’re as hard as, or even somewhat harder than, quartz (7 to 7.5 on the Mohs Hardness Scale). Their refractive index is literally off the scale (the refractometer scale that is) making them highly dispersive, able to break light into its component colors. They also take a polish similar to diamond.

One weakness of zircons is that they have imperfect cleavage that can be seen as abrasion along the facet junctions if the stones are kept in a single paper together, or if they rub against other jewelry. So store zircon jewelry in cloth bags, do not use an ultrasonic to clean them, and avoid the steamer as well.


Sharon Elaine Thompson is a GG and FGA who has been writing on gemstone and jewelry topics for Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist since 1987. She also writes a line of Birthstone Romances under the name Liz Hartley.


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2 Comments

  1. Deidre S at 9:10 am December 30, 2017

    Interesting information but what was the second alternative to turquiose? Thanks.

  2. Tammy Honaman at 11:12 am January 2, 2018

    Nice catch, Deidre! The second alternative to turquoise is Tanzanite. — Sharon

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