December Birthstones - Turquoise, Zircon & Tanzanite
- by shoprmc gems
Turquoise is one of the true classic gemstones of antiquity. This sky blue gemstone was and still is used in ancient cultures in China, India, and the Middle East for millennia. In modern culture, turquoise remains extremely popular.
Turquoise as a birthstone
Turquoise is believed to benefit wearers with good health and good luck. In Native American culture, turquoise was believed to be found at the end of the rainbow. Some cultures believe that turquoise gets its color direct from the sky. In Egypt, turquoise was a truly royal gemstone, adorning the funeral mask of King Tut.
With such a rich history across so many cultures, it's not surprising that turquoise has been so highly valued for such a long time. Turquoise is a very design-friendly gemstone. Turquoise is also very popular with jewelers, being very easy to work, and ideal as a color element in many different types of jewelry.
Turquoise is unusual in that it is both a gemstone and frequently used as standalone jewelry or as part of inlays in other artworks. The popularity of turquoise has seen it used in any number of different artistic and creative environments.
Shopping for turquoise?
The good news is that turquoise is pretty easy to find online. Very good quality turquoise in a range of cuts and designs can be found in collections and as loose gemstones. The major issue is finding exactly what you're looking for.
For example, if you're looking for a raw natural turquoise gemstone, you will probably have a good idea of its appearance. Because many turquoise gemstones are processed, and the market turnover of turquoise is incredibly high, finding what you want can be a little complex.
TANZANITE BIRTHSTONE MEANING & HISTORY
Tanzanite may be a relative newcomer to the world of colored stones, but it was one of the most exciting gem discoveries of the 20th century. Blue stones emerging from Tanzania were identified as the mineral zoisite in 1962. Not until 1967, though, did prospectors locate the primary source for this December birthstone: the Merelani Hills. It was eventually named tanzanite in honor of its country of origin. The tanzanite birthstone is often described as “velvety,” mostly because of its deep and saturated color, which ranges from a pure rich blue to violet, with the blue considered most valuable.
Tiffany & Co. believed that tanzanite had international appeal and became its main distributor. In 1968, Tiffany launched a major advertising campaign to promote it. With its vivid colors, high clarity and potential for large cut stones, tanzanite quickly became a sensation. Today, it is not only a December birthstone, but it is also the gem for the 24th wedding anniversary.
WHERE IS TANZANITE FOUND?
The Merelani Hills of northern Tanzania is the only place on earth where tanzanite is mined comercially. Grass-covered hillsides, scrub brush, rocky soil and an occasional tree form the local landscape. In the major mechanized operations there, thousands of workers recover tanzanite from mines dug over a 100 meters (more than 300 feet) deep into the earth. North of the mines tower the snow-covered slopes of Mount Kilimanjaro.
Emerging from the clouds is the domed summit of Mount Kilimanjaro. Tanzanite is mined in its shadow. Photo: Eric Welch/GIA
TANZANITE BIRTHSTONE CARE & CLEANING
This December birthstone (6 to 7 on the Mohs scale of harness) is resistant to the effects of normal heat, light and common chemicals. Still, the December birthstone may crack if exposed to very high temperatures or sudden temperature changes, and it abrades easily. It can be attacked by hydrochloric and hydrofluoric acids.
Most tanzanite begins as brownish zoisite that is heat treated to produce the blue to violet hues that characterize this December birthstones. The resulting color is permanent, and there are no additional durability concerns.
Your tanzanite birthstone is best set in earrings or pendants. While not recommended for daily wear in a ring, with a protective mounting and some care this December birthstone can be an attractive special-occasion jewel.
Warm, soapy water is the best way to clean this December birthstone. Ultrasonic and steam cleaners are never recommended for tanzanite.
ZIRCON BIRTHSTONE MEANING & HISTORY
The origins of the word “zircon” have elicited colorful debate. Some scholars believe it comes from the Arabic word zarkun, meaning “cinnabar” or “vermilion.” Others think the source is the Persian word zargun, or “gold colored.” Considering the broad color palette for this December birthstone – red, orange, yellow, brown, green and blue – either derivation seems possible. Colorless zircon is known for its brilliance and flashes of multicolored light, called fire, which have resulted in centuries of confusion with diamond.
During the Middle Ages, this December birthstone was thought to lull one into a deep sleep and scare off evil spirits. In the Hindu religion, zircon alternates with hessonite garnet as one of the nine gems of the navaratna. When worn together, the nine gems protect the wearer and bring wealth, wisdom and good health.
Victorians had a fondness for blue zircon. Fine specimens can be found in English estate jewelry from the 1880s.
WHERE IS ZIRCON FOUND?
Sri Lanka's wealth of gems is legendary: Sapphire in various colors, ruby, alexandrite, spinel, tournamline, moonstone and quartz are some of the gem minerals unearthed there. So is the December birthstone zircon. Elahera, a region in central Sri Lanka, is one of the country’s most productive areas. Mountains, jungles and restless streams make for a dramatic landscape.
Australia’s Harts Range is known for producing zircon birthstones in yellow-brown, orangy brown, pink and purple. Go there and you’ll see open savannahs, dry stream beds and low-lying hills that meet the horizon. Zircon Hill is where this December birthstone is mined. The nearby city of Alice Springs is known for its outback culture, aboriginal art and quirky sporting events like a regatta race held in a dry river bed.
This December birthstone is often located near sapphire sources. In addition to Sri Lanka and Australia, countries where the two gems overlap include Myanmar, Vietnam and Cambodia.
ZIRCON BIRTHSTONE CARE & CLEANING
Zircon ranges from 6 to 7.5 on the Mohs scale of hardness. It is commonly heat treated to produce blue and colorless varieties, as well as orange, yellow and red. The gem is generally stable when exposed to light, but some heat-treated stones may revert to their original colors (usually light brown) after prolonged exposure to bright light. Exposure to heat can alter the color of some zircon. This December birthstone is stable when exposed to chemicals.
Because zircon tends to abrade, it is best to avoid wearing it in rough conditions, such as while gardening, playing sports or doing dishes.
Clean your zircon using a soft brush and mild soap in warm water. Ultrasonic and steam cleaners are not recommended for this December birthstone.
Some shopping tips:
- First, find a major supplier of turquoise. These larger suppliers will have a very good range, including many different sizes and types of gemstones.
- Quality is a very important issue. If, for example, you want your turquoise birthstone for an individual piece of jewelry, take your time and explore all your options.
- Gemstone size is another issue. Turquoise isn't unduly expensive, but larger gemstones do cost considerably more. Look for good discounts.
- Explore your options. If you're looking for multiple gemstones, evaluate collections of turquoise for color and quality.
- Sourcing turquoise for custom jewelry is easier than it might seem. All you need to do is talk to the supplier, and get some expert help finding the right gemstones.
- Do you need to source natural turquoise or processed turquoise? There's a big difference. Raw turquoise is a natural stone, which requires a lot of processing before being turned into jewelry. Expert jewelers will source natural turquoise and process it themselves, buffing and polishing the gemstones.
Experts are here to helpIf you'd like some assistance finding your turquoise, RMC is right here when you need help. We have a massive range of turquoise, and our experts can certainly help you with finding exactly what you want. Call us or contact us online at any time for any support you need