**Skip this first part if you are not “book nerdy.”
According to Jewelry Through the Ages by Guido Gregorietti for instance, it reached its popularity in the 19th Century. In The Consumer’s Guide to Colored Gemstones by David Federman, it was used extensively in the 1880’s. That same book says that the principal source of blue zircon over 5 carats today comes from Victorian jewelry. This fact of 19th Century popularity seems to be confirmed by George Frederick Kunz in his book, Rings for the Finger. In it he writes about collections being given to museums. One such collector was Sir Arthur Herbert Church who donated 169 rings to the British Museum, 45 of which were zircons! Since Sir Church lived between 1934-1915 we can see how popular zircons were if 26% of one collection contained them.
** Resume reading here is you skipped the above section.
Zircon is a natural gemstone. It is highly dispersive (very sparkly) and as a result, the colorless variety of zircon was used as a substitute for diamond until the 1970’s. In 1976, a synthetic diamond simulant, cubic zirconia was commercially marketed. While the two stones are often confused, they are not related. Zircon is a naturally occurring gemstone and cubic zirconia is a man made, lab created, synthetic construct made to look like diamond.
*Black and White/Color photo of scarf with zircon pin by Jennifer Yanuzzi.