The Birthstones for December
- 1 The Birthstones for December
- 2 What’s The Color Of the December Birthstones?
- 3 December Birthstones: Etymology, History, and Folklore
- 4 The Spiritual Meaning of December Birthstones
- 5 The Health Benefits and Healing Properties of the December Birthstones
- 6 Durability of the December Birthstone
- 7 Caring and Cleaning December Birthstone
- 8 The Cost of December Birthstones
- 9 Turquoise, Tanzanite, and Zircon Alternatives: Secondary December Birthstones
- 10 Conclusion
From the medieval times until the 1921 JA (Jewelers of America) official birthstone listing, ruby and bloodstone were considered as the birthstones for the month of December.
However, with the month of December imparting the cold, wintry period and the happiness and cheer of the holiday season and family traditions, the birthstone for December transform from the powerful red hues to the calming, soothing and heartwarming colors of turquoise, tanzanite, and zircon.
What’s The Color Of the December Birthstones?
Blue is the color that represents the month of December along with its accepted birthstones. Used for millennia to project and convey wisdom, loyalty, trust and strength, the color is blue is such a calming color that evokes the image of the sea and the sky. In addition, being a primary color that lies between violet and green, the color blue is such a popular color that looks good in any shape, making it suitable for fashion as well as jewelry.
Now, the name turquoise is quite synonymous with blue, though the gemstone turquoise offers a few color variations and the word turquoise is used as an adjective that refers to a particular light frequency: turquoise blue. The other varieties of the turquoise color are light turquoise, celeste (sky blue), dark turquoise (darkest shade), medium turquoise (a shade darker than the turquoise blue) and the bright turquoise which is somewhere between medium turquoise and turquoise blue.
Tanzanite, in its rough state, can be a clear to reddish-brown color. However, the popular blue ones are achieved via heat treatment. Although generally more common in blue, tanzanite can be found in hues that range from violet, purple and indigo to royal blue.
Also, this gemstone is trichroism, showing burgundy, violet or sapphire blue when viewed from different angles. Trichroism gemstones are extremely rare and tanzanite is one of the few gemstones known to exhibit such effects.
Of the 3 December birthstones, zircon has the most diverse color range. Its colorless or white variations are the least valuable while the blue zircon is the most popular one. Blue zircons also feature green pleochroism that can result in some interesting teal-like hues.
However, blue zircon is not naturally produced. They are only achieved thorough heating the brown zircons. Brown zircons are the only specimen of all zircon with the right physical structure in order to turn blue.
December Birthstones: Etymology, History, and Folklore
Used for thousands of years in ornaments, the unique turquoise has been called many names. The Aztecs called it the “chalchihuitl” meaning the “heart of the earth” or a “precious green gemstone”. Ancient Greeks, on the other hand, called it the “callais” which also means “green gemstone”. Its modern name, however, was given by the French, calling it “pierre turquois” or Turkish stone, since it was first introduced to Europe from Turkish mines.
Turquoise was used as a talisman and decoration throughout ancient times and as far as 6,000 years ago. The Egyptians used it to adorn their tombs and bodies, with the tomb of Tutankhamen being the best example. This Egyptian pharaoh’s resting place was discovered and revealed a burial mask that been inlaid with this precious gemstone.
In China, turquoise became popular during the 2nd millennium BC in the Shang Dynasty, where it was carved into ornaments and figurines. The Aztecs during the 1300 – 1521 used this gemstone to decorate knives, ceremonial masks, and shields. Then to the north, to the Navajo, Pueblo and Apache tribes of the American Indians, used this gemstone as an amulet which was believed to provide precise aim to archers.
During the 14th century decree of the Roman Catholic Church, turquoise was used in secular jewelry. In addition, it also has a strong historical connection to horse riders. Used as an ornament attached to the bridle, this December birthstone was believed to prevent a rider from falling off as well as protecting the horse from exhaustion and thirst while making them obedient and sure-footed.
The name of this precious gemstone was derived from its source— the small area in the Tanzanian Merelani Hills. AS a matter of fact, this rare gemstone is found in no other location on Earth, making it one of the most valuable and rare stones.
Scientifically known as the blue-violet zoisite, Tiffany & Co. thought that its name has no consumer appeal, thus changing the name in the year 1968. In the year 1967, tanzanite was first discovered by a Goan tailor, Manuel de Souza and mistook it as peridot.
After a long journey from the Merelani Hills, to the Saks Fifth Avenue in NY, and to the Gemological Institute of America, the gemstone was correctly and finally identified as a mineral variety of zoisite family.
Because its discovery was only recent, there very little presence of this gemstone in culture. But, tanzanite is widely used today in spiritual exploration and metaphysical healing.
Zircon comes from the Persian term “zargun” meaning “golden-hued” and was corrupted not the French term “jargon” which refers to diamond-like, high-quality gemstones. Then, the German adaptation of this word “zirkon” was eventually modified to become the English term zircon.
Fun fact, zircon is actually the oldest known mineral in the world with a sample date from up to 4 billion years ago.
Zircon, during the medieval period, was known as the hyacinth or jacinth. Also, it was used to help sleep, promote wisdom and honor and bring prosperity. During the Victorian era, this gemstone was usually found in English estate jewelry.
Throughout the 1900s, this gemstone was also used as an imitation of diamond which leads it to become synonymous with fake.
The Spiritual Meaning of December Birthstones
Evocative of the sea and sky, turquoise is a powerful protective stone which removes negativity and represents inner calmness, good luck, self-realization, stability, and creativity. It is also associated with the qualities of the Sagittarius sign like kindness, optimism, and adventurousness.
For tanzanite, the purples and cool blues of this gemstone represent the ability to soothe and calm. Also, it embodies reliability and responsibility while also conveying trust and security. In addition, tanzanite was voted as the 2nd most popular gemstone that signifies the spiritual importance and value of the December month.
Lastly, for zircon, apart from the shared associations with the color blue. This stone also expresses spiritual grounding, balance and healing. It is also connected to honor, integrity, prosperity, and happiness.
The Health Benefits and Healing Properties of the December Birthstones
Turquoise Healing Properties
Believed to help encourage friendship, clear communication, and leadership, this gemstone is also thought to cure and prevent a host of spiritual and physical illnesses. A powerful strengthening stone, this December birthstone can help cure anxiety, exhaustion and depression. It also has a detoxifying and anti-inflammatory effect which can help reduce excessive acidity and prevent rheumatism gout and stomach problems.
The stone was also used to ease migraines and benefit the eyes, brain, neck, ears, throat, and lungs. Turquoise is also associated with the 3rd eye chakra and the throat chakra allowing you to have better intellect and intuition as well as better verbal communications.
Since it promotes clear communication, this gemstone is also suitable for those working in the government or in law. It is also suggested for IT professionals and accountants in order to induce mental relaxation and release anxiety.
Tanzanite Healing Properties
This December birthstone shares most of the turquoise’s healing abilities, thanks to its blue color. Other than that, the stone was also known to strengthen the immune system, improving vitality and detoxifying your blood.
It also helps in the regeneration of the hair, skin, and cells as well as protection from any negative side effects of surgeries or medications. The December birthstone is also known to be beneficial in the treatment of psychological disorders and stress, cure excessive sweating and help recovery from alcoholism.
Zircon Healing Properties
Known as a powerful stone that brings prosperity, helps sleep and promotes honor and wisdom to its wearer, zircon in various colors can be used in psychic healing treatments and focusing various chakras.
It is a powerful grounding stone that promotes physical, spiritual and emotional balance. Not only that, but this stone was also beneficial in the treatment and prevention of blisters, varicose veins and issues with the testicles.
Durability of the December Birthstone
Turquoise, Tanzanite and Zircon Hardness
On the Mohs scale, turquoise stands at the 5 – 6 range. Tanzanite is harder, ranging from 6 – 7. Meanwhile, zircon is slightly harder than tanzanite with a 6 – 7.5 range.
Turquoise, Tanzanite and Zircon Toughness
Turquoise features a perfect cleavage and is rather easy to cut, but it has a fair – good toughness. Both Tanzanite and Zircon also have a toughness rating of fair – good.
This means that these December birthstones can be worn in all kinds of jewelry and can survive a knock or two.
Turquoise, Tanzanite and Zircon Stability
Turquoise is usually stable in light, however, intense heat can cause discoloration and some damage to its surface. Also, the gemstone can be discolored by cosmetics, chemicals, perspiration and skin oils. Meanwhile, hydrochloric acid is known to dissolve turquoise.
For tanzanite, heat, light and common chemicals are not a problem. But, it should ever be subjected to thermal shock or very high temperatures. Also, it can be affected by hydrofluoric acids and hydrochloric acids.
Zircons are usually heat-treated in order to improve or change color. And although such zircons are stable in light and most often unaffected by chemicals, ultraviolet radiation, and intense light can cause its colors to change or fade.
Caring and Cleaning December Birthstone
How To Clean Turquoise, Tanzanite, and Zircon?
All 3 December birthstones are recommended to be clean with warm water, soap, and a soft brush. You should never use ultrasonic and steam cleaners particularly with turquoise. Why? Because it would compromise the treatments made to the stones and reduce its aesthetics appear.
How To Store Turquoise, Tanzanite and Zircon?
When storing these December birthstones, it is crucial that you keep them separated. Place individual pieces of jewelry or loose gemstones in a dedicated section of your jewelry box. You can also use acid-free paper envelopes to store them in an organizer box. For displaying these precious stones, you can use a glass jar with fabric bases or foam inserts.
The Cost of December Birthstones
Among the 3 December birthstones, Tanzanite is the most expensive, due to its rarity. It is followed by zircon and turquoise being the most affordable and rarely purchased for more than $100.
For instance, a 3-carat oval turquoise can be purchased at $50. Tanzanite, on the other hand, can pick at least $100 for a 1-carat cushion-cut ring. At the top end, tanzanite can even go up to $500 per carat with a 6.8 carat trillion facet in a nice color that can cost you $3,000!
Zircon, on the other hand, is slightly cheaper than tanzanite. Once a popular imitation diamond ring, a 5-carat blue zircon fetch a price of $600. Now, for something really special without any money problem, you can buy a 16.8-carat electric blue zircon for $5,000.
Turquoise, Tanzanite, and Zircon Alternatives: Secondary December Birthstones
Initially, the JA (Jewelers of America) considered the lapis lazuli as a December birthstone along with turquoise. Before turquoise, however, the JA considered ruby and bloodstone as the appropriate December birthstone.
December is the month of cheers and jolliness thanks to the heart-warming holidays like Christmas, Hanukkahs and the approaching New Year! And with blue gemstones like turquoise zircon and tanzanite, not only it offers an elegant and charming birthstone for those born in December but also imparts optimism and calmness to its wearer, suitable for the cheery holidays to come.