December’s three birthstones are turquoise, Tanzanite, and zircon. All three of these birthstones are known for their stunning shades of blue. The age of these gemstones varies greatly, from one being one of the oldest on Earth, to another only recently being discovered.
This December birthstone is valued highly due to its ancient heritage and its beautiful color. Countless civilizations and groups cherished turquoise, including Native Americans and Egyptians. Pharaohs and other ancient Egyptian rulers decorated themselves with turquoise. Most notably, King Tut’s burial mask was adorned with turquoise. The Apache, a Native American tribe, thought this gemstone was found at the end of a rainbow. They also believed that it could help one’s aim when attached to a bow or firearm. Other Native American tribes in the southwestern United States used turquoise in their jewelry and amulets, as a medium of exchange, and a ceremonial gem. It’s common for turquoise to be fashioned into Native American talismans, such as bird and animal carvings.
Beginning in the 13th century, turquoise was believed to protect its wearer from falling (especially off horses). It was also thought that possessing turquoise guaranteed health and good fortune. This December birthstone is considered a national treasure in Tibet, where many believe it provided protection from evil. More than 3,000 years ago, it was common for Chinese artisans to carve turquoise. The gemstone is relatively soft, which is ideal for carving.
The most prominent market for turquoise is in the American Southwest, where Arizona and Nevada are the highest producing states. The United States is the world’s largest turquoise supplier.
Tanzanite is relatively new to the colored gemstone world. It was marketed and named by Tiffany & Co. in 1968, after the company’s belief that the gemstone had international appeal. They named this gemstone after the country it came from, Tanzania. This December birthstone became extremely popular with top jewelry designers, along with customers who had an eye for beautiful and unusual gems. Part of Tanzanite’s appeal is due to its vivid colors, high clarity, and potential for large cut stones.
Tanzanite is vulnerable to scratch during daily wear, therefore it is ideal for earrings and pendants rather than rings. This gemstone’s color ranges from a rich blue to violet, with blue being the most valuable. Tanzanite was discovered fairly recently, and has only one source, the Merelani Hills in northern Tanzania.
Zircon is the oldest mineral on Earth, with its age being around 4.4 billion years old. It also contains important information about the formation of our planet and how it came to be. It is found in the Earth’s crust, and due to its chemical makeup, it has survived countless geologic events like erosion and pressure shifts.
Throughout time, this gemstone has been valuable to various groups. For example, Victorians were fond of blue zircon. It was popular for blue zircon to be featured in English estate jewelry from the 1880s. During the Middle Ages, this December birthstone was believed to help with sleep, ward off evil, and scare off evil spirits. Also, if zircon had a cloudy appearance, it was often worn in mourning jewelry.
Colorless zircon has been often confused with diamond, due to both having similar properties of brilliance and flashes of multicolored light. However, the key difference between zircon and diamond is that zircon is more brittle. Zircon does not only come in a colorless form, but it also occurs in an array of colors. Yellow, green, red, reddish brown, and blue hues are all colorful forms of zircon. Zircon is also located near sapphire sources. Some sources of both zircon and sapphire include Australia, Vietnam, and Cambodia, among others.