Z is for Zirconium


Today is my 26th post for the 2022 A to Z Blogging Challenge. My goal was to stick to my theme, the arts and the creative process, but it’s hard to think of something arts- or creativity-related that starts with Z. So please forgive me for writing about an element instead.

Zirconium is a chemical element. Its symbol is Zr, and its atomic number is 40. Its primary source is the mineral zircon, from which it is named. Zirconium is a silvery metal that resembles titanium.

Zircon is a zirconium silicate mineral with the chemical composition of ZrSiO4. It’s fairly common, being a minor constituent of all three types of rocks, igneous, metamorphic, and sedimentary. It’s also a popular gemstone, the birthstone for December. It occurs in different colors and is sometimes used as a cheaper alternative to diamonds, which it equals in sparkle.

Cubic Zirconia, however, also a lower-priced substitute for diamonds, is not a naturally occurring mineral, but synthetic. It’s the cubic crystalline form of zirconium dioxide (ZrO2).

Cubic Zirconia
Cubic Zirconia. Photo by Gregory Phillips. Used under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

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