Discovered in 1787 by German chemist Martin Heinrich Klaproth. The best known compound of this metal is zircon. Zirconium is named for the Arabic word zargun, meaning gold, for the color of zircon.
Zirconium has an extremely high index of refraction, which means that it bends light in sharp angles. This gives them the brilliance that allows them to masquerade as diamonds.
Zirconium is resistant to both corrosion and high temperatures, so is useful in the construction of space rockets/shuttles, allowing them to re-enter the atmosphere safely.
Zircaloy is used in nuclear reactors to contain the uranium pellets in the coolant tanks. (Zicaloy is used because it is resistant to corrosion by water) It is also starting to be used to build the reactor core, because zirconium does not easily absorb neutrons.