There are three birthstones for December. They range from one of the oldest gems mined and used as adornments by humans 8500 years ago – turquoise – to one of the newest discovered and appreciated - tanzanite. The third is zircon - not to be confused with the synthetically produced cubic zirconia (CZ).
The name turquoise originally comes from the Turks who introduced the stone to Europe via the Silk Road. The color “turquoise” came from the gemstone and today we refer to things such as sea waters as “turquoise'' to describe a color that is the brightest and most radiant blue colour.
Historically, turquoise lavishly adorned jewellery from ancient Egypt. The most famous precious Egyptian artifact, Tutankhamun's mask, has bright blue turquoise encrusted in high karat gold. Egypt has the oldest turquoise mines, located in the Sinai peninsula.
Persians believed that turquoise is a strong protection stone and wore it around the neck and on daggers. They believed that turquoise changes colour to warn people about upcoming dangers. In fact, turquoise can actually change colour if it has prolonged exposure to sunlight, heat or chemicals.
Native American shamans used the stone to connect with celestial powers and warriors thought it helped them hit their targets. Because of its imagined properties, turquoise is a staple of native American adornments.
Turquoise is usually an inexpensive gem but the quality of the stones can range significantly. When you are looking for a high quality gem, keep your eye out for turquoise that has a pure bright blue colour, with no 'matrix' (no dark veins). Beware of those that have a greenish tint because they have an inferior quality. Additionally, you should be cautious because cheap turquoise has invaded the market and it is heavily treated, and is made of reconstituted stones or can even be fake.
This stone is a world champion: it's 4.4 billion years old! It has a wide colour range from colourless to yellow, red, violet, green and blue. Zircon is very sparkly due to its optical physical properties and can be expensive when it is perfectly transparent, with either a strong colour or perfectly colorless. Usually, the price for a zircon stone is medium to high.
It's cloudy and bluish sparkle was popular with Victorians. Additionally, in the middle ages, it was prized as a guard against evil, that also provided prosperity and good sleep. It was considered especially good for men.
Today some believe wearing Zircon boosts confidence and compassion.
Tanzanite is one of few stones that is found in only one place on earth. As you probably could have guessed that place is Tanzania, Africa. Tanzanite, as any other stone that is mined from only one place on Earth, is limited in supply, and thus it can be expensive. It also has a special optical property, “pleochroism”, meaning that it appears to be different colors when observed at different angles. Tanzanite is blue and violet, depending on how the light reflects on it.
It is one of the very rare new modern discoveries, being mined for the first time in 1967. G.F. Kuntz, the famous Tiffany gemologist, introduced the stone to the commercial jewelry world, but legend has it that it was found first by the Massai herders walking across the wild plains around Mount Kilimanjaro. We wonder if Hemingway didn't step on tanzanites while hunting and dreaming of “The Snows of Kilimanjaro”.
Marina Mura offers you a full strand of beautiful tanzanite stones embellished with pure silver beads and added sparkly spinel in a 1.5 meters long handmade sautoir to celebrate this Christmas and/or your birth month!
Don't forget: these beautiful strands of blue-violet beads come from only one place on Earth; the plains of Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, Africa!
White gold getting yellow? How come? Any alternatives available?
The much talked about generation has a particular angle about jewellery too.