December has been blessed with not one or two, but three beautiful birthstones! Turquoise is probably the most widely available of the three gemstones, while Zircon and Tanzanite in particular are considered rarer and subsequently more expensive in comparison.
Composition and mineral makeup of the December birthstones
Turquoise is an opaque, relatively soft gemstone, formed within weathered rock containing copper minerals. Its famous turquoise color varies from intense sky blue through to duck egg blue or greener shades. Turquoise contains tiny little brown or black veins which are caused during formation by inclusions from nearby rock fragments.
Zircon, made up of zirconium silicate, is an interesting and important gemstone, yet it’s not all that well known. It’s sometimes confused with Cubic Zirconia, but the two are very different. Cubic Zirconia is a man-made synthetic material, whereas Zircon is a naturally occurring gemstone. Zircon appears in a wide range of colors, with the most popular being blue zircon – one of the birthstones for December.
Tanzanite is only found in one place in the world – Tanzania, in East Africa. It’s a blue variety of the gemstone zoisite. It’s a fairly soft gemstone and therefore somewhat fragile. Tanzanite is found in a rich blue tinged with purple hues and is one of the most rare and coveted gemstones in the gem industry.
Gemstone history and fascinating facts
Turquoise has been around for thousands of years, in fact it’s one of the earliest stones known to be used in jewelry, amulets and swords. A Turquoise and gold bracelet was discovered among the mummified remains of the Egyptian Queen Zer (5500 B.C.), when her tomb was excavated in 1900. Beads dating back to 5000 B.C. have been discovered in Iraq, and in ancient Iran, Turquoise was seen to adorn daggers, bowls and ornamental objects.
Zircon has comparable qualities to those of a diamond. It has a brilliant lustre and sparkle and is sometimes seen as an inexpensive Diamond imitation. However, the Zircon is a valuable gemstone in its own right, because it holds a great deal of importance when it comes to scientific discoveries.
Zircon is the oldest known mineral on earth (even older than the moon), with the oldest zircon gemstones representing the earliest record of the Earth’s crust. The Zircon gemstone has led to the discipline of ‘zirconology’ in gemology. Because of certain trace elements found in Zircon crystals, geoscientists have made discoveries that in turn have led to the rethinking of the origins of life on Earth.
Tanzanite is a relatively recent discovery, having been first found in 1967. The gemstone was offered to Tiffany, the famous New York jewelry company. Tiffany thought that the gemstone was sensational and they proposed the name Tanzanite, after the place where the stone had been found.
The Tanzanite gemstone made an appearance in the blockbuster move Titanic, back in 1997. You might remember the beautiful heart shaped blue pendant necklace that Kate Winslet wore while playing the character Rose DeWitt Bukater? The “Heart of the Ocean” necklace was in fact a Tanzanite stone surrounded by diamonds.
Blue gemstones of beauty
When it comes to the December birthstones, even though each one has its own fascinating history and mineral makeup, they do share a similar attribute – they all feature beautiful and striking shades of blue.
We hope you enjoyed this article about the December birthstones! For more articles like this, you might want to check out our product stories section.
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*Image courtesy of Flickr