Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Gemstone ❤ ZIRCON v. Cubic Zirconia

Clear Zircon
Zircon is a mineral, a naturally-occurring gemstone.  It's a beautiful gemstone and doesn't get a lot of "love" from the public because people are often confused by the name Zircon---it is very close to "Cubic Zirconia" or CZ, which is a man-made stone.  They both contain the element Zirconium, but Zircon is naturally-occurring and a CZ is made in a lab.  Very confusing!

The colorless variety of Zircon is the natural element that most resembles diamonds.  Zircon also has a wonderful refraction which gives the gemstone lots of fire.  It can also seem to have more than one color.  This effect is called pleochroism.  It has a Mohs hardness of 6.5, and its strong luster and intense fire makes it a very beautiful NATURAL alternative to a Diamond.  (Please note: Moissanite is NOT a natural mineral, but is created in a lab, as is Cubic Zirconia.)

White Zircon
The word Zircon comes from the Persian word "zirgun" which means "gold", which makes sense since the majority of Zircons are a brownish gold color.  Zircon is associated with granite.  It's made of Zirconium Silicate.

Blue Zircon
Zircon is found in a variety of colors:  white, colorless, blue, green, red, yellow, orange, brown, pink, purple, grey, and black.  Blue and clear zircon are used the most in jewelry and are heat treated.  Heating the Zircon will increase its transparency, and change colors.  Heating brown or grey zircon in an oxygen-free environment will yield blue gemstones.  Heating them in an environment with oxygen yields a golden brown transparent color.  Almost all blue and colorless zircon are heat treated.

Trade Names:

- Starlight:  a blue gem variety of Zircon; heated
- Matura Diamond:  trade name for colorless Zircon
- Jargon - colorless, pale grey or pale yellow Zircon
- Jacinth - yellow, orange, brown or red Zircon; name goes back to Biblical times.
- Seiland Zircon - dark red Zircon from Norway
Red Zircon

Where is it found?

Cambodia, Burma, Sri Lanka, Australia, Mozambique, Tanzania, Madagascar, Nigeria, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Italy, France, Germany, Russia, Canada, United States

Similar Gemstones:

Colorless - resembles Diamonds, and also CZ.  It is distinguishable by its hardness and double refraction.
Blue - resembles Blue Topaz, Aquamarine, Blue Spinel, Tourmaline, Apatite
Golden Brown - resembles Topaz, Citrine, Sapphire, Garnet
Yellow - resembles Heliodor (Golden Beryl), Sapphire, Canary Diamond, Chrysoberyl, Topaz
Pink Zircon - resembles Topaz, Morganite, Kunzite, Spinel, and Rose Quartz

Golden Yellow Zircon
The luster, fire, hardness, and double refraction make Zircon distinguishable from other gemstones.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

OPALITE: Not a Gemstone! Not Dolomite or Quartz! It's GLASS

Opalite - GLASS
I'm constantly amazed at the "creativity" of online sellers, and that includes wholesale companies in China and Thailand and all over the world, and sellers on Etsy and Ebay and other online sites.  Too bad this creativity is used to scam buyers---it hurts everyone, from honest sellers to naive buyers.

Opalite is a beautiful "stone" that can be purchased all over, and Michael's (the crafts supply store) has a LOT of it.  It's clearly marked on their tags as "Opalite GLASS" because that's what it is---it's GLASS.  It's very inexpensive (about $5 a strand not on sale).  It's not a gemstone, not made from other gemstones, or any mineral.  It is a glass product.  It is a beautiful glass, but glass nontheless.  I wrote about Opalite last year (HERE) because I was seeing it being sold as "Moonstone" or "Opal" which is a terrible thing to do---it's not any sort of gemstone!  I explained how and where it's made in that blog post.

In my Etsy feed today, I saw an object for sale called "Opalite Gemstone".  In reading the description, the seller goes on to say it's sometimes called Sea Opal, Tiffany Stone*, Opalized Glass, Opal Quartz, and other names.  This makes it seem as though Opalite is correctly called other names----when, in fact, those are just manufacturers' brand names that are given to Opalite EXPRESSLY to mislead the public.  There is no such gemstone as "Sea Opal" or "Opal Moonstone".  And Opalite is NOT quartz!

*There IS a stone called "Tiffany Stone", which is actually a stone mined in Utah seen in varying shades of
So-Called Tiffany Stone: NOT Opalite!
dark purple, lavender and creamy white with swirls of dark and light yellowish brown and pink areas takes a high polish as a cabochon.  It has NOTHING to do with Opalite!!  It was used by Tiffany in some jewelry at one time so it's been dubbed that name.  So to refer to Opalite as this gemstone---well, that's really beyond "creative".

But beyond that, they go on to describe it as a "glass resin" that is made with the actual mineral Dolomite plus metals!

I googled "Opalite+Dolomite" and can see that this particular description (Opalite made with Dolomite) is often used in the wiccan jewelry world, and therefore gives Opalite (which is ONLY glass) mystical healing properties.  Plus, a lot of people might think, "Oooh, it IS a gemstone" since the name Dolomite sounds very technical and mysterious, until you know what Dolomite is!

In other words, it's a scam.


Dolomite is a very common rock similar to limestone and is comprised of calcium magnesium carbonate.  These rocks were originally deposited as calcium carbonate muds that were post-depositionally altered by magnesium-rich pore water to form dolomite. It is the primary component of Dolomitic Marble and Dolomitic Limestone.  Dolomite has a Mohs hardness of 3.5.
Dolomite Marble 2" Piece

Dolomite Aggregate 1/2" pieces
Dolostone is used extensively in the construction industry. It is crushed and used to pave roads, as an aggregate in concrete and asphalt, and is used in making cement.  Dolomite is used in the production of bricks, glass and ceramics.  Because it is soft and is filled with "gaps" or "holes" within the rock, it is targeted by the oil and gas industry because these holes can be filled with natural gas or oil.


Simple answer:  it wouldn't, and it isn't.

If you'd like to read more about Opalite, please visit my post about it HERE.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014


Yellow Scapolite
Scapolite is a gemstone that is very rare, and not well-known.  It comes in many colors, such as white, pink, grey, greenish, yellow, brown, and violet, and even blue.   The most common color is a bright honey-yellow. 

The name Scapolite comes from the Greek "skapos", meaning "shaft" due to its long, prismatic crystals.

Scapolite Crystal
Scapolite can easily be confused with Amethyst, Citrine, Chrysoberyl, and Golden Beryl.  But those gems are much harder than Scapolite.

Heat Treated Lavender Scapolite
Lavender Scapolite is heat treated, and unstable (the color will fade when exposed to sunlight).

Scapolite is a soft stone, similar to Opal.  It has a Mohs hardness of about 5.5 to 6.  It's most suitable to pendants and earrings.

Very small pockets of Scapolite can be found in the US and around the world.  Gemstone sources are found in Minas Gerias, Brazil; Madagascar, Tanzania, Canada, Switzerland and Burma.  It can also be found in Mt. Vesuvius, Italy and in Norway and Mexico.

Luster is vitreous on freshly exposed crystals or surfaces but weathering causes a dulling of the luster, due to the softness of the stone.  Scapolite will often fluoresce either orange, yellow or more rarely red under ultraviolet light---quartz and beryl minerals will not. Associated minerals include the garnet minerals almandine and andradite, actinolite, microcline, pyroxenes, apatite, andalusite, zircon, sphene, diopside and muscovite.

Cat's Eye Scapolite
Gemstone-quality scapolite usually exhibits excellent transparency. Some of the less transparent material will exhibit chatoyancy or the cat's eye effect when cut as cabochons. Cat's eye stones are rather rare and desirable as they tend to have exceptionally sharp eyes.

Wernerite, 'Pink Moonstone', Lavender Cat's Eye Scapolite, Violet Cat's Eye Scapolite, Pink Cat's Eye Scapolite, Mizzonite, Dipyre, Marialite and Meionite are lesser known gemstone trade names and mineral associations.