December is a month with three incredibly gorgeous birthstones - all in a range of icy blues. The three gemstones for December are tanzanite, zircon, and turquoise, all in their blue hues. Sometimes, blue topaz is also included as a December birthstone, though not as widely recognized as the other three. Blue topaz is a great gemstone to use in jewelry if you’re looking for a more affordable birthstone option. Each of these gemstones used for December has its own, rich history.
Tanzanite was only recently discovered in 1967; it comes in a wide variety of gorgeous shades and is only found in one area of the world - Tanzania. To get the gorgeous blue-purple shades in this gem, it is often treated with heat to bring out the desirable color instead of a more common brownish shade. However, once treated, the blue color is permanent. Tanzanites are created from the mineral zoisite and get their stunning blue-purple color from traces of vanadium in the zoisite. Tanzanite can be confused with sapphires, depending on how deep the blue of the gem is. It only ranks a 6.5 to 7 on the Mohs hardness scale, which makes it best suited for earrings or pendants rather than a ring. While it has a relatively short history, it’s quickly become a hit in the jewelry industry.
Zircon crystals are found in most igneous rocks and are extremely common, though you’re unlikely to easily find large pieces of the crystal. A gorgeous gemstone, zircon comes in all colors and colorless zircon is used as a substitute for diamond, because it has a dazzling sparkle, though does not hold up as well and is apt to be scratched during daily wear. Zircon can be found all around the world, primarily in Thailand, Vietnam, and Sri Lanka, but has also been frequently found in Europe and North America. Zircon is often exposed to uranium when it’s in the earth, which changes the color of the crystal - the rarest zircon color is green. Most blue zircon is heat treated to bring out the blue color. The blue color does not occur naturally; while the gem itself has been on the market for a long time, it wasn’t until the 1920s that blue zircon became available!
Because the gemstone itself has been around for a long time, there is rich lore surrounding zircon. Green zircon is mentioned in the Hindu religion and red zircon was popular in the Middle East. During the Middle Ages, zircon was believed to be able to protect people from contracting the Black Death and that it also protected against poison, could aid sleep, and improve digestion.
Something you probably didn’t know - turquoise comes from copper! It’s created when water runs through copper deposits and interacts with sulfide in those deposits to create a solution that creates cavities in the rocks. The gorgeous blue color of turquoise comes from the copper in it; when iron is present, it can have a greener tone. If you see darker flecks, those are a result of pieces of surrounding rock mixing with the turquoise as it’s forming. Turquoise is an incredibly soft stone; only receiving between a 5 and a 6 on the Mohs scale. It makes beautiful jewelry, but is not ideal for everyday wear. It can also change color when it comes in contact with various oils or other substances.
Turquoise is found all over the world, particularly in the American Southwest. However, its name comes from French and means “turkish stone” because it was first brought into Europe from Turkey. In nearly every civilization, turquoise has been used to craft incredible jewelry and decorations, often for the ruling classes. Turquoise pieces that are thousands of years old have been found in the tombs of royalty. Native American tribes have created stunning pieces of turquoise jewelry for thousands of years. The stone plays a huge importance in rites of passage and has myth around it that associates it with good health and protection from evil. Around the world, people believed in the power of turquoise, that it would protect someone from harm, was a symbol of love and affection, or could predict the weather with its color.
If you’re looking for a gorgeous piece of jewelry featuring the gemstone to celebrate your birthday or anniversary month, stop by Vanscoy, Maurer & Bash Diamond Jewelers in Lancaster, PA! We currently have extra stock featuring these gems and even have many pieces of blue topaz jewelry as well, if that’s your preferred birthstone!