Home News Zircons Reclaiming Their Brilliance: Overcoming a Legacy of Mistaken Identity

Zircons Reclaiming Their Brilliance: Overcoming a Legacy of Mistaken Identity

by Madonna

In the realm of gemstones, the humble zircon has endured decades of misunderstanding and undeserved obscurity, a tale highlighted in Angara’s first annual “Engagement Ring Trends Report.” In the Victorian era, zircons, mined minerals with colorless and vibrant blue variations, were favored as diamond alternatives. However, the emergence of cubic zirconia in the 1930s, later faceted in 1969, led to misconceptions, with the public confusing zircons with the synthetic crystal.

Angara’s report reveals a resurgence in interest and a correction of the record on zircons. Independent designers and prestigious jewelers, such as Louis Vuitton and Buccellati, are rediscovering the gem’s charm, incorporating it into high-end collections. Andrea Buccellati, co-creative director of the renowned brand, praises the stones’ colors and cuts, providing designers with inspiration for modern and innovative products.


Svend Wennick, principal at Wennick-Lefèvre, notes the beauty of zircons, emphasizing the importance of expert polishing and cutting. Established brands now have the freedom to present lesser-known gems like zircons, as their high brand value allows them to focus on the beauty of the jewelry rather than justifying the gem’s price.


Ray Griffiths, a New York-based designer, hails zircons as unsung heroes in the jewelry world, praising their color saturation for a sense of luxury. The gem’s optical properties, brighter than diamonds due to birefringence, provide a unique shimmer and glow, setting zircons apart.


Margot McKinney, a fourth-generation jeweler, showcases zircons in her creations, emphasizing their high refractive index and brightness. Recognizing the increasing popularity of lab-grown stones, McKinney believes zircons will continue to dominate the industry.

Despite the gem’s growing popularity, there remains confusion among consumers. Paul Schneider, owner of Twist jewelry boutiques, stresses the importance of educating clients about zircons’ distinct properties to prevent confusion with other stones like topaz or sapphire.

Katerina Perez, a London-based jewelry influencer, reflects on her initial confusion between zircons and cubic zirconia. Now a fan, Perez appreciates the uniqueness of zircons, noting their special sparkle and distinct colors.

In the evolving landscape of jewelry trends, zircons find favor due to their color palette, according to Ming Lampson of the London-based Ming company. Yellow and brown zircons, she believes, complement the current trend for yellow gold.

Mia Moross, founder of The One I Love NYC, emphasizes the appeal of working with lesser-known stones like zircons, drawing parallels with the resurgence of spinels. Moross utilizes vintage zircons for rings and pendants, recognizing the need for bezel settings due to their softer nature on the Mohs scale.

While the gemstone may face challenges due to its name, designers like George F. Kunz proposed renaming it “starlite” to emphasize its fiery qualities. Despite the enduring association with cubic zirconia, the gem’s resurgence suggests that zircons are on the path to reclaiming their place in the world of jewelry.


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