December Birthstones: Tanzanite, Zircon and Turquoise

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December Birthstones: Tanzanite, Zircon and Turquoise

Tanzanite December Birthstone Ring

Tanzanite Symbolism and Meaning

Stemming from its only locale in the world, tanzanite gets its name from the country Tanzania. Unlike other months, the December birthstone of tanzanite has a shorter history, going undiscovered until 1967.

Despite its recent discovery and lack of ancient folklore, tanzanite’s rich color and immense beauty make it one of the most popular gemstones of the modern world. Because of its rarity and limited availability, tanzanite will likely be passed down for generations as a precious heirloom.

Tanzanite Color

Formed of the mineral zoisite, tanzanite is a vivid blue gem found in only one place in the world. When small amounts of the mineral vanadium mix with high temperatures, the blue color develops. The December birthstone ranges in hue, and normally includes shades of purple and lavender. And while some tanzanite contains brown tints, the gemstones are usually cut and treated to reduce that effect.

Measuring between 6.5 and 7 on the Mohs scale of hardness, tanzanite is slightly less durable than other gemstones. No cause for concern, tanzanite can be worn daily in earrings and necklaces, though rings should probably be saved for special occasions. Proper care helps maintain the life and beauty of tanzanite jewelry.

December Birthstone Tanzanite on the Mohs Hardness Scale

Tanzanite Origins

Uncovered by Maasai herders in 1967, the vibrant blue stones were unexpectedly discovered in the Merelani Hills in Arusha, Tanzania. The herders shared their discovery with Manual d’Souza, a local fortune prospector, who registered the location with proper mining claims. The only place in the world tanzanite can be found is within a few miles of this original deposit.

Because Tanzanite is only available in a tiny area on Earth, December’s primary birthstone is a rare and precious gem.

Zircon: Secondary Birthstone

An alternative to tanzanite, zircon is another stunning blue gemstone that December born folks have a special connection with. While zircon is available in a range of colors, the blue variety tends to be associated as a secondary December birthstone.

Abundant within the Earth’s crust—and dating back over 4 billion years—Zircon is a widely available mineral of the nesosilicate group. It rates a 7.5 on the Mohs scale of hardness, meaning it holds up well for everyday jewelry. Zircon deposits can be found in Cambodia, Tanzania, Thailand, Sri Lanka, the United States and Canada—though the largest deposit (37% of the world supply) comes from Australia.

Throughout time, Zircon has been believed to provide wisdom and prosperity. In the Middle Ages, it was thought to aid in sleep quality and ward off evil spirits. During the Victorian era, blue zircon was a prized gem, often adorned in necklaces and other decorative pieces. In the early 20th century, heat treatment became a popular way to enhance the blue color of zircon for jewelry. Legend has it that zircon brings compassion and confidence to all wearers.

Turquoise: Tertiary Birthstone

Those born in December not only benefit from two exquisite gemstones, but also a third blue beauty: turquoise.

One of the oldest and most beloved gemstones, turquoise has been admired since ancient times. Pharaohs in Egypt wore turquoise stones around their necks, and Native Americans fastened them to special pieces of their wardrobe. Aztecs adorned their ceremonial masks and weapons with turquoise, as did kings and warriors of many kingdoms. For centuries, it’s been believed that turquoise brings health, wealth, protection and good luck to wearers.

The stunning gemstones—which range in color from soft to darker greenish blues—are composed of hydrated phosphate of aluminum and copper. Originally discovered in Ancient Persia (known as Iran today), turquoise deposits are located in the United States, Northern India, Afghanistan, Australia, Northern Chile and Turkestan. Often formed in arid regions, turquoise found in Arizona leads the world in quality and value.

Because turquoise measures a 6 on the Mohs scale of durability, it is perfect for special occasion jewelry as opposed to everyday wear.

Fun Facts

  • The Smithsonian Museum in Washington, D.C. hosts an extensive collection of tanzanite, including one stone of over 122 Carats.
  • Tanzanite was given its name by Tiffany & Co. after the gemstone was discovered as zoisite in 1967. The name “zoisite” sounded too similar to “suicide,” so the company marketed the gem with a name to reflect its origin: Tanzania.
  • Beyoncé was gifted a stunning tanzanite ring of over 10 Carats by her husband Jay-Z.
  • Ancient records indicate that turquoise jewelry was fashioned as far back as 3000 BC, as evidenced in ancient Egyptian tombs, including that of King Tut.
  • Many celebrities flaunt turquoise jewelry for special appearances, including Cameron Diaz, Megan Fox, Sarah Jessica Parker and Sofia Vergara.

Gift Ideas

No matter which December birthstone you choose—whether tanzanite, zircon or turquoise—these vivid blue gems are bound to garner attention. Consider a gift that’s designed especially for the one you love.

Tanzanite Jewelry

The blue color of tanzanite is especially eye-catching in a ring. Consider a cushion cut with a halo setting, a pear-shaped stone or one with a rose gold setting.

For pendants and necklaces, choose from a simple tanzanite pendant or a more extravagant piece like this pear-shaped necklace.

Tanzanite bracelets are usually classic and simple in design, like this one with diamonds or this one set in sterling silver.

For earrings, tanzanite options include:

Turquoise Jewelry

For a turquoise pendant, consider a simple button design or one with a more edgy look like this sunburst turquoise necklace—which can be paired with these matching earrings.

Or go stylish with a natural turquoise ring or a set of turquoise studded earrings.

With a special December birthstone design, you’re bound to surprise your loved one. Also check out November’s topaz and January’s garnet birthstones.

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