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December Birthstones
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December Birthstones

They say the best is saved for last, and rightly so. Those born in December are bestowed with not one, but three birthstones. Tanzanite, Zircon and Turquoise are each the stones for the last month of the year. As they are all very different, and thus valued for their individual traits, we will take a look at each stone separately.

Tanzanite is a stone that occurs naturally in only one place on earth. It is named after its home, the African state of Tanzania where it was first discovered in commercial quantities in the 1960ís. While it is technically a blue variety of zoisite, this particular stone was renamed by Tiffany & Co and became rapidly popular. All Tanzanite is derived from 8 square miles of mines in Merelani Hills near the base Mount Kilimanjaro.

Most Tanzanite stones have a distinct hint of purple or violet and occur in a range of tones and color saturation. It is relatively new on the market compared to our next December stone which has been widely used for thousands of years.

Turquoise is an antique ornamental stone with a unique blue to green hue. It has been used as inlay on Ancient Egyptian furnishings and in the domes of Early Persian palaces. In jewelry it is employed for protection. One of the earliest known regions to produce turquoise is Persia, prized for a pure robinís egg blue color. These mines are thought to be thousands of years old and Archeologists believe Ancient Egyptians must have had access.

The South-Western United States is also a significant source of turquoise and plays a very large role in several Native American cultures. Two of the most prominent are the Aztecs of Mexico, who used the stone in intricate ceremonial masks, and the Navajo, whose methods, materials and symbolism have been adopted by jewelry makers and artists today. The history of Navajo turquoise dates back to prehistoric times and has been discovered over various parts of the Southwest.

Turqoise has variations in hue from mixtures of blue, green and yellow. It also sometimes includes a spider web of brown or black inclusions known as a matrix. As turquoise is a relatively soft stone, it is often treated to protect it from wear. The most desirable way to protect the stone is one that does not include a color sealant.
Where Tourquoise is soft, our final December stone is hard and some would say even brittle. It makes up for this by its exquisite brilliance.

Zircon is a colorful stone with pronounced double refraction that flashes multicolored light called fire. It sometimes contains traces of uranium that act as a geological clock, giving a glimpse at early earth. Though it is found in many places, the mines in Australia hold what is considered the oldest mineral on the planet.

Zircon occurs in an array of colors, from the blue hues of the December birthstone to reddish-browns, greens and yellows. Colorless zircon, or Matara, comes closer to resembling the properties of diamond to account for centuries of confusion. This variation is named after a city in Sri Lanka where it is mined. This natural Zircon is also often confused with a diamond imitator grown in a lab, because of a similar sounding name.

As it is one of the heaviest gemstones, it will often look smaller than another stone of its weight. It can also suffer from abrasions and chips, and therefore should be stored carefully. Due to the wide variety of color variations, it is a popular collectorís stone and a favored birthstone for December.

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