Birthstone of December
December – the frosty cold yet cheery and wonderful month of winter. Tis the season to be jolly; the month of Christmas. This month, like the others has a birthstone but unlike some of the others, there are three – Blue Topaz, Tanzanite and Turquoise.
Out of the three birthstones, Blue Topaz is the 2nd most popular. Generally, Topaz can come in a variety of different colours. It turns blue when it is heated, either by nature or by man, resulting in one of three different shades of blue; the more intense the shade, the more valuable it is. Variations of the blue include: Sky Blue, Swiss Blue, and London Blue. Although the stone is very affordable, London blue is the most valuable and cannot occur naturally, it is artificially produced.
The cool serene shade of blue is what makes the Blue Topaz so ideal for all kinds of jewelry for thousands of years. Because of its durability (8 on the Mohs scale) the gemstone is suited for earrings and rings. Ancient Greeks believed that its cool colour could calm one’s temper and calm the mind. It was also believed that it could cool the temperature of boiling water, this may be because of its ice-like appearance.
To this day, Blue Topaz is said to represent love and loyalty and is said to be a gift of the romantics.
The December Birthstone version of Tanzanite is a violet-blue stone is a variety of the gemstone zoisite. It is composed of calcium alumnium slicate and is not particularly hard, having a value of 6.5 to 7 on the Mohs scale. Gemstones in this range of should be worn carefully and never placed in an ultrasonic bath or brought in contact with acids. Most natural Tanzanite appear brownish-yellow but it can disappear if the stone is carefully heated to 500 degrees. During the heat treatment process careful attention to the moment at which the colour turns blue. Heating Tanzanite is customary in the trade.
When the first Tanzanite was offered to New York jewelry company Tiffany they recommend a name change to the gemstone, since the gemological correct name is 'blue zoisite' was felt to be too close to the English word 'suicide'. Tiffany's proposed the name Tanzanite after the place where the stone was discovered. Through the years the name quickly came into general use in the trade. After two years of it's discovery Tiffany presented the exclusive gemstone to the general public with a broad based advertising campaign.
Unlike Blue Topaz, Tanzanite was not used in jewelry for thousands of years, in fact it was only discovered in 1967, where it was named the 'gemstone of the 20th century' by specialists. Tanzanite was recently added in 2002 to the December Birthstone list by the American Gem Trade Association. This blue-lavender gemstone is predominantly mined in Tanzania on Mount Kilimanjaro and has been associated with the merits of serenity and understanding. Although it is a rare gem, it can be less expensive alternative for sapphires and because of its durability it can be used in different pieces of jewelry.
A person who acquires one of these exclusive gems is someone who wished to set themselves apart from the rest. A person who wears it exudes confidence and indiviuality. The almost magical colour of a perfectly cut tanzanite is one that only suits confident young women; it is also excellent suited to the underlining the individuality of the more mature woman.
Used mostly in Native American and New Mexican jewelry Turquoise, is a blue opaque yet very earthy and natural looking gem. Turquoise is one of the oldest stones used in jewelry. In earlier times it was beleved that turquoise was responsible for the wellbeing of the wearer. A famous Persian scholar Al-Qazwini, for example, wrote: 'The hand that wears a turquoise and seals with it will never see poverty.' Turquoise was often placed on turbans surrounded by pearls to protect their wearer against the 'evil eye'. As talismans they adorned daggers, sabres and the bridles of horses. It was not until the time of the crusades where turquoise was imported to medieval Europe by Turkish traders.
Turquoise was considered sacred by many ancient civilizations. Rulers of ancient Egypt treasured the stone, King Tut himself was buried with a mask set with turquoise stones. In ancient Persian kingdom, the sky-blue gemstones were worn round the neck or wrist protection against unnatural death. If the stone changed colour, the wearer was thought to have reason to fear the approach of doom. Although turquoise does change colour, it does not necessarily mean a sign of impending danger. The change in colour can be cause by light, chemical reactions caused by cosmetics, dust or acidity of the skin.
Turquoise were worn as a natural protection against the power of darkness. In the past turquoise were worn by horse riders to protoect them from unexpected falls. Today these stones are recommended for pilots, air crew or other occupational groups were there is a high amount of risk.
Turquoise is composed of copper aluminum phosphate with a hardness of 6. Turquoise will be found in different shades of blue from sky blue to grey-green, and are found in areas with a high concentration of copper. Turquoise with the colour turquoise are the most sought after. The blue colour is created by the copper, while the shades of green are caused by contamination from iron and chrome.
Turquoise should be protected from cosmetics, heat and bright light. It is not a gemstone to take with you when you go sunbathing. It is best to give it a clean from time to time with a soft cloth.