All three of December’s birthstones are best known for their beautiful shades of blue. These gemstones range from the oldest on Earth to one of the most recently discovered.
December’s birthstones are relatively inexpensive, but their beauty rivals even precious gemstones.
Colourless Zircon is a convincing replacement for Diamond, Tanzanite often substitutes Sapphire, and Turquoise is unmatched in its hue of robin’s egg blue.
This December birthstone has been cherished for millennia. The pharaohs and other rulers of ancient Egypt adorned themselves with it. Chinese artisans carved it more than 3,000 years ago.
Admired since ancient times, turquoise is known for its distinct colour, which ranges from powdery blue to greenish robin egg blue. It’s one of few minerals to lend its name to anything that resembles its striking colour.
From the 13th century on, it was believed to protect the wearer and would break into several pieces at the approach of disaster. Hindu mystics believe seeing a turquoise after witnessing the new moon ensured great wealth.
Turquoise also played a role in the lives of Native Americans. The Apache thought turquoise could be found by following a rainbow to its end, Very much like the modern pot of gold. They also believed that attaching Turquoise to a bow or firearm made one’s aim more accurate.
In European tradition, the gift of a turquoise ring means “forget me not.”
Turquoise has been mined in Iran for more than 1,000 years.
Ancient Persia (now Iran) was the traditional source for sky blue turquoise gemstones. This colour is often called “Persian blue” today.
Tanzanite is the exquisite blue-purple variety of the mineral zoisite that is only found in one part of the world. Named for its limited geographic origin in Tanzania.
Tanzanite may be a relative newcomer to the world of coloured stones, but it was one of the most exciting gem discoveries of the 20th century.
This birthstone is often described as “velvety,” mostly because of its deep and saturated colours, 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 colours, 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 anniversaries.
The origins of the word “Zircon” have elicited colourful 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 coloured.” Considering the broad colour palette for this December birthstone – red, orange, yellow, brown, green and blue – either seems possible.
Colourless Zircon is known for its brilliance and flashes of multicoloured 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.
Victorians had a fondness for blue Zircon. Fine specimens can be found in English estate jewellery from the 1880s
Sri Lanka’s wealth of gems is legendary: Sapphire in various colours, Ruby, Alexandrite, Spinal, Tourmaline, Moonstone and Quartz are some of the gem minerals unearthed there. So is the December birthstone Zircon.
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.