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Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History
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Catalog Number NMNH G10653-00
Locality Tanzania
Weight 30 ct

Purchased with funds from the Tiffany & Co. Foundation in 2010.

Most gem zircons are found as water worn pebbles in gravel deposits in Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, and Sri Lanka. Gem quality zircon is also found in Burma, Madagascar, Brazil and Tanzania. It is typically brown, reddish-brown, green or yellow. Since the 1920s virtually all zircon gemstones used in jewelry have been heat-treated to enhance their colors. Heating produces blue and golden zircons as well as some colorless stones. Zircon’s dispersion and brilliance are almost as good as that of diamond, however, its inferior hardness and brittleness make zircon gems prone to chipping and abrading. This cushion cut 30ct zircon has a rich orange-brown color and is the first zircon in the Collection from Tanzania. For some time, zircons in attractive colors have been found in the northeastern part of Tanzania. The deposit is located in the Tanga province south of Umba and produces mainly rounded crystals or fragments with very good transparency. Tanzania’s fancy color zircons come in a wide range of colors, from pale yellow to yellowish-brown, brownish-orange, brownish-pink and even red, with wonderful dispersion.


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