The Brown Zircon is a rare variety of Zircon from Brazil with dark brown or black coloration. It is tough and resistant to scratching, and its coloration is easily modified to resemble any other gemstone.
Zircon was the third gemstone to be discovered; it was first found in Brazil in 1824 and has been found in Sri Lanka, India, and Afghanistan. The Brazilian Brown Zircon is considered the highest quality, although other sources report a difference in color between the brown zircons of Brazil and those of Sri Lanka – the latter being more blue-tinged. There is also a pale-yellow form (from Sri Lanka) that looks somewhat like a diamond.
Zircon is found in Sri Lanka, Brazil, India, and Afghanistan. The only place the Brown Zircon is not found is in China.
Brown in color and brown in appearance, this rare stone has a brown body color with a black matrix and banding. The poor availability of the stone leads to people starting to nickname it ‘dirty zircon.’ It is also known as “Black Tiger” Zircon or “Zee” for short.
Brown Zircon is a rigid material and can be used in just about any engineering application. Its hardness lies at a level above 7.5 on Moh’s scale. The Brown Zircon has numerous uses in industry as it is resistant to scratches, abrasion, and impact damage. It can be used as a substitute for diamonds in setting gemstones and can be cut into cabochons for use in jewelry.
Zircon is formed by the silica-rich mantle of continental crust, likely stemming from the subducted slab that sank beneath the South American continent. It crystallizes as a trigonal crystal class, with space group “R3”. Zircon’s crystal structure consists of all stone and one other material: feldspar.
The Brown Zircon is relatively rare and very expensive in terms of gemstone prices. The price of the Brown Zircon is far above that of other Zircon, like white Zircon and pink Zircon. The brown-colored gem is also rarer than many other gemstones.
Properties and Uses
Zircon is a very hard and tough material, with a rating of 7 on the Mohs scale; it falls into the diamond category. This makes it an ideal component for high-grade jewelry and expensive watches and jewelry. It is also an excellent substitute for a natural diamond.
Zircon is one of the few gemstones suitable for grinding into gems. It is a cousin of a diamond, sharing some similar properties and uses in jewelry. Both are hard, durable, and resistant to scratching, abrasion, and impact damage. A hardness rating of 7 on the Mohs scale makes it comparable with diamonds in terms of durability. Zircon is also an insulator, which helps it resist high temperatures. Another key property of Zircon is its ability to be easily dyed to color any shade, from bright red to vivid green.
It is only used as an alternative to diamonds and as a substitute for them in jewelry making. The availability stone is very scarce, raising its prices.
The coloration varies from deep reds at the most common; to golds, browns, and blues at higher levels of rarity. The deep red variety is most commonly used as an alternative to ruby, while the brown and blue varieties are used as alternatives to sapphire and diamond respectively.