December’s feisty and fiery birthstone, Blue Zircon, boasts a special attribute: it comes from just one area of one country in the world. Cambodia, a small country on the Thai peninsula bordered by Vietnam, Laos, and Thailand, is proud to be to the only known source of Blue Zircon.
Blue Zircon comes from the Ratanakiri province of Cambodia, which means “Mountain of Gems” in Khmer, the local language. Our visit to the Blue Zircon mines showed us the remarkable investment of time, money, and energy the locals put into mining Blue Zircon. Blue Zircon has transformed families, communities, and the local economy…bringing hope for better futures!
The Blue Zircon mines we visited share land with rubber plantations, another major export in Cambodia. Round pits, approximately the width of a barrel, are dug between the rows of rubber trees. The miners work in pairs: the first partner shimmies down to the bottom, fills the bucket with dirt, and sends the bucket back up via a pulley system. The second partner empties the bucket and sends it back down to the bottom. The rough is sorted above ground and is later heated to release the trace elements that create its renowned blue color.
90% of all Blue Zircon miners are farmers. They mine during the 6 months of the year when rain makes farming difficult. The presence of mining as a second occupation and a steady source of income has allowed families to enhance their livelihood, send their children to secondary school, and thrive in every sense.
Blue Zircons range in color from a light sky blue to a robin’s egg blue to a vivid turquoise to a deep teal. We love the range of blues!