The December birthstone, turquoise, is regarded as a love charm. It is also a symbol of good fortune and success and is believed to relax the mind and to protect its wearer from harm. Turquoise rings, in particular, are thought to keep away evil spirits.
December Birthstone Color
Unlike many other gems, turquoise is opaque rather than translucent. Its blue-green color can vary from sky blue or greenish blue to pale green or greenish gray. Bluer stones are considered more valuable and contain more copper. Turquoise is sometimes criss-crossed by “matrix”—a pattern of mineral lines formed by the surrounding stone—which can reduce its value.
Birthstone Facts & Folklore
- Turquoise is found most often in very dry areas where volcanic activity has occurred.
- Turquoise is fairly soft and porous and is often treated to add strength.
- In ancient Turkey, Tibet, and Persia, turquoise stones were attached to horses’ bridles. It was thought that the stones protected the animals from the ill effects of drinking cold water when they were overheated from exertion.
- Wearing turquoise will calm and balance emotions. A dream of turquoise means victory and success.
Tanzanite and Zircon
Tanzanite and zircon are also considered to be traditional December birthstones.
- The substance “zircon” is often confused with synthetic “cubic zirconia,” but zircon is the oldest natural mineral on Earth, dating back 4.4 billion years. The gem is available in many colors, with blue the most popular and most often associated with December’s birthstone. The colorless variety is less valuable, but due to its brilliance, it is a popular substitute for a diamond. Zircon may contain traces of radioactive uranium or thorium; this and its age make it useful for radiometric dating. The gem was once believed to induce sleep, promote wealth, and protect from injury and evil.
- In 1967, tanzanite, a blue version of zoisite, officially was discovered by prospector Manuel de Sousa in Tanzania—hence its name. Because tanzanite is available only from a small area, it is likely to be depleted in the next few decades. Its blue color, similar to that of sapphire, can be pale to intense with hints of violet. Brownish tones lessen its value; deeper blues are more precious.