When a jeweler talks about glacier ice, they do not mean a block of snow they carved off an iceberg. It is easy to confuse two terms such as glacier and glacier ice, especially if you are visiting Alaska for the first time. The difference between glaciers and glacier ice is that one is a huge mass of compact ice¹ and the other is a specific variety of a gemstone called blue zircon.²
To help eliminate any future confusion, the following list addresses the key differences between glaciers and glacier ice. This guide should be particularly useful for anyone that loves December birthstone jewelry, blue gemstones, or the majestic glaciers themselves.
- Are made of ice and snow – Glaciers form after centuries of winter temperatures. After about two years the snow begins to compact and crystallize into “firn.” The force of the compression eventually causes the snow to compact into glacier ice.
- Cover 10% of the planet – Scientists estimate that ten percent of the Earth is covered by glacial ice. That is over 5.8 million square miles or 15 million square kilometers. This occurs mostly in Antarctica, Greenland, and the Canadian Arctic. Most of the glaciers in the US are in Alaska, covering 30,000 square miles. During the last Ice Age, over 32 percent of the world was covered in glaciers.
- Have an intense blue tint – The denseness of the crystals in glacier ice give it a remarkable blue color. The oldest glaciers are the bluest because they have been compressed for the longest time. This process forces out tiny air bubbles making the ice even thicker. The glacier ice is so dense that it absorbs red light, which makes it appear blue. White icebergs have more air bubbles frozen inside the ice than blue glaciers.
- Is the December birthstone – Blue zircons or glacier ice are the birthstone for December birthdays. They make excellent gifts for jewelry lovers who were born during December, or anyone that loves their lustrous blue color.
- Has the brightest blue color – Blue zircons have the brightest blue hue out of any gemstone. That is why they call it glacier ice jewelry. The gems have a deeper color than most zircons, which also come in green, yellow, clear, orange, and red.³ For this reason, they are more coveted and have a higher market value than other colors of zircon.
- Sparkles the brightest – In addition to their lovely hue, blue zircons have the highest refractive index. This means that they appear to sparkle the brightest. It takes an expert jewel cutter to work with blue zircons due to their unusual structure. Blue zircon jewelry may be worn alone or with diamonds, often on a ring.
Glacier ice is not necessarily a chunk of blue stuff floating in the Arctic Ocean. Blue zircons are also called glacier ice, and they last much longer in warm weather.
Alaska Jewelry Goldsmith Gallery Stores opened in the small town of Sitka, Alaska during 1990. Today the family-owned company still operates from their original headquarters. In 2000, Alaska Jewelry launched a website that sells fine jewelry to the world. They offer free insured shipping, risk free returns for 31 days, and zero sales tax. Visit www.alaskajewelry.com and start shopping.