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Article: Zircon


Properties and Characteristics of Zircon

  • Zircon is common in the Earth's crust and can be found in igneous, metamorphic, and sedimentary rocks.
  • It has a Mohs hardness of 7.5 and is resistant to weathering and heat.
  • Zircon is a heavy mineral, with a specific gravity of 4.6-4.7.
  • Due to its uranium and thorium content, some zircons undergo metamictization, which affects their properties.
  • Zircon occurs in various colors, including colorless, yellow, red, brown, blue, and green.

Applications of Zircon

  • Zircon is used as an opacifier in the ceramics industry.
  • It is a precursor to metallic zirconium and its compounds, including zirconium dioxide.
  • Other applications include refractories, foundry casting, and specialty applications like nuclear fuel rods and catalytic converters.
  • Zircon is widely used by geologists for geochronology.
  • It is part of the ZTR index used to classify highly-weathered sediments.

Zircon as a Gemstone

  • Transparent zircon is a semi-precious gemstone with high specific gravity and adamantine luster.
  • It can be used as a substitute for diamond due to its high refractive index.
  • Zircon has a Mohs hardness of 7.5, making it durable but softer than cubic zirconia.
  • Some zircons may lose color after prolonged exposure to sunlight.
  • Birefringence is a characteristic of most gem-grade zircons, helping to distinguish them from diamonds and cubic zirconias.

Occurrence and Production of Zircon

  • Zircon is a common accessory mineral in igneous rocks, especially granite and felsic igneous rocks.
  • It can also be found in sedimentary deposits and is a common component of sands.
  • Zircon can occur as a trace mineral in ultrapotassic igneous rocks like kimberlites and carbonatites.
  • It forms economic concentrations in heavy mineral deposits.
  • Global production of zirconium mineral concentrates has shown a consistent trend.

History and Etymology of Zircon

  • The name 'zircon' derives from the Persian word 'zargun,' meaning gold-hued.
  • The English word 'zircon' comes from the German adaptation of 'Zirkon.'
  • Yellow, orange, and red zircons are also known as hyacinth, named after the flower.
  • Zircon has been used as a gemstone and decorative material for centuries.
  • Synthetic zircons have been created in laboratories and can be used in jewelry.

Zircon Data Sources

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Knowledge Graph

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