September 12, 2023

Tanzanite, Turquoise & Zircon: Vibrant December Birthstones December brings a trio of beautiful birthstones spanning the spectrum of blue - tanzanite, turquoise, and zircon. These mesmerizing gems occur in diverse shades to match anyone's personal taste. Unlock the styling potential of these December birthstones and find meaningful gift inspiration.

Tanzanite – The Intense Blue December Birthstone

Discovered just over 50 years ago, tanzanite remains one of the most captivating modern birthstones. Its vivid violet-blue color is seen in no other gem. With limited availability, tanzanite makes a meaningful December birthday gift.

What is Tanzanite?

Tanzanite belongs to the mineral species zoisite. It displays a striking range of blue and violet, caused by traces of vanadium. Stones with the most intense, slightly purplish blue command the highest prices.

This variety was named after its country of discovery, Tanzania. Located near majestic Mount Kilimanjaro, the Merelani Hills is the only known source for fine tanzanite.

With a rating of 6.5 on the Mohs hardness scale, tanzanite suits pendants, earrings and occasional rings. Its trichroic pleochroism means tanzanite shows different colors from different viewing angles.

Tanzanite History & Lore

In 1967, a Masai tribesman stumbled upon a cluster of intensely colored blue crystals near Arusha, Tanzania. He alerted dealer Manuel D’Souza, who quickly recognized a new discovery.

By 1968, Tiffany & Co. began promoting tanzanite as an exciting new birthstone. Its exquisite color and large clean crystals quickly attracted attention. Within just a few years, it joined turquoise and zircon as an official December birthstone.

Where is Tanzanite Found?

Tanzania: Merelani Hills, near Arusha and Mount Kilimanjaro

The Merelani mining area is the only known commercial source for fine tanzanite. Small deposits have been found in Kenya and Mozambique, but none have become viable mining sites.

Given tanzanite's limited geographic availability, it may one day be exhausted as a commercial gemstone. But for now, the Merelani region continues to produce exquisite tanzanite crystals.

Buying Quality Tanzanite

Shop for tanzanite with these tips in mind:

  • Vivid blue is ideal, not too light or purple
  • Eye clean clarity in smaller stones
  • Well cut proportions to maximize color intensity
  • Untreated gems display truer blue
  • Larger sizes over 5 carats are especially rare
  • Check for any visible flaws in unset stones

The most expensive tanzanites combine perfect vivid blue color with top clarity and expert cut. But beautiful options exist at more affordable price points.

Caring for Tanzanite Jewelry

Tanzanite requires reasonably careful handling:

  • Use warm water, mild soap and a soft brush to clean
  • Avoid ultrasonic or steam cleaning
  • Prevent exposure to chemicals, extreme heat orsudden temperature changes
  • Consider removing tanzanite rings for hard physicalwork

With some basic precautions, tanzanite offers lasting beauty. Be guided by a gemologist for any repairs needed over time.

Styling the Striking Blue December Birthstone

Tanzanite makes a perfect centerpiece for:

  • Solitaire pendants with diamond halos
  • Elegant diamond tennis bracelets accented with tanzanite
  • Bold cocktail rings to show off color dimensionality
  • Stud earrings surrounded by a circle of sparkling white sapphires
  • Stacked multi-gem bangles mixing tanzanite, aquamarine and blue topaz
  • Victorian style floral brooches with tanzanite color accents

Let vivid tanzanite infuse your look with mesmerizing December blues.

Turquoise – The Vintage December Birthstone

Prized for over 5,000 years across cultures, turquoise continues to be treasured as a December birthstone with its distinctive greenish blue hues. From Egyptian pharaohs to Native Americans, turquoise has carried spiritual significance and been incorporated into ceremonial regalia. Rediscover turquoise and find your own meaningful connection with this ancient gem.

What is Turquoise?

Turquoise is a hydrous phosphate mineral containing copper and aluminum. Traces of iron lend turquoise its characteristic green-blue color. Intricate veining patterns known as matrix run through many turquoise gemstones.

The finest turquoise boasts a uniform "robin's egg" blue color without matrix veins. Natural color with no enhancement is most valued. Beauty, rather than country of origin, drives turquoise quality.

With a rating of just 5 - 6 on the Mohs scale, stabilized turquoise and careful settings are important for jewelry use.

Turquoise History & Lore

Dating back to ancient Egypt, Persia and the Aztec civilization, turquoise was ascribed many powers - from fortune telling to guarding against evil. Holy men adorned themselves with turquoise, and pharaohs were adorned with it for protection in the afterlife.

Native Americans believed turquoise brought luck while hunting or riding horses. They also incorporated it into ceramics, totem poles and other sacred objects. Navajo artisans are renowned for their advanced silversmithing skills including turquoise inlay jewelry.

Where is Turquoise Found?

United States: Historically Arizona; now Nevada

Iran: Famed "Persian turquoise" from Khorasan province

China: Major producer, especially Hubei province

Australia: Light green turquoise from Queensland

Egypt: Classic "Sinai turquoise" no longer mined

Chile: High altitude Andean turquoise deposits

Afghanistan, Brazil, Mexico and Tanzania also yield turquoise. Localities can take on a signature look, like the light green turquoise from certain Australian mines. But quality turquoise comes from all corners of the globe.

Buying Quality Turquoise

Factors impacting turquoise value include:

  • Distinctly blue shade, not too light or dark
  • Clean color uniformity without matrix veins
  • Natural untreated enhancement
  • Cut and polish that maximize color
  • Larger carat weight cabochons
  • Provenance from a renowned mine

The most valuable turquoise combines "Persian blue" color with no matrix and skillful stone cutting.

Caring for Turquoise Jewelry

Stabilization makes turquoise jewelry safe for wearing, but it still requires gentle care:

  • Avoid exposure to chemicals, heat ultrultra sonic cleaning
  • Don't immerse turquoise in water or use steam cleaners
  • Store turquoise separately from harder gems
  • Clean with a soft damp cloth to remove dirt

Simple precautions keep turquoise looking its best. Be sure to ask your jeweler about any special care instructions.

Styling the Vintage December Birthstone

Turquoise brings beautiful Southwest flair to any outfit:

  • Statement necklaces pairing large turquoise cabochons with chunky sterling chains
  • Tennis bracelets alternating round sky blue turquoise with brushed metal rondelles
  • Vintage rings with marquise cut turquoise accented by filigree engraving
  • Pendants of round turquoise encircled with rustic, hammered silver
  • Chandelier earrings with freeform turquoise drops
  • Men's lapel pins with intricate silverwork surrounding cabochon turquoise

Add turquoise's distinctive character to celebrate December in a meaningful way.

Zircon – The Understated December Birthstone

As an affordable alternative to diamond, colorless zircon delivers exceptional brilliance. The variety of colors zircon occurs in also provides unique December birthstone options like rare red zircon. With good hardness, zircon deserves more appreciation for everyday wear.

What is Zircon?

Zircon is a zirconium silicate mineral. Impurities produce zircon's diverse colors, from colorless, yellow, green, brown and orange to brilliant red and blue hues. Blue zircon is created by heating colorless or pale stones.

Most commercial quantities come from Australia and Vietnam. Zircon is also sourced from Cambodia, Myanmar, Sri Lanka and Tanzania. Deposits often overlap with sapphire localities.

With a rating of 6 to 8 on the Mohs scale, this relatively hard birthstone can be worn daily with proper prong settings. Heat treatment is common to produce blue zircon.

Zircon History & Lore

References to zircon date back thousands of years. Hindus regarded golden zircon as a sacred gem. The bright flashes of colorless zircon led people to confuse it with diamond for centuries.

The medieval belief that zircon brought sound sleep and warded off evil spirits contributes to its popularity in Europe. Zircon continues to be an important spiritual crystal in Eastern religions.

The discovery of gem-rich deposits in Australia and Vietnam in the mid-1900s increased zircon's availability as an affordable December birthstone.

Where is Zircon Found?

Australia: Important producer, including rare red zircon

Vietnam: Major source of blue zircon

Cambodia: Zircon from the same mines as fine sapphire

Sri Lanka: Quality green and orange zircon

Myanmar: High clarity yellow zircon crystals

Tanzania: Zircon from Songea district

Buying Quality Zircon

Factors that can increase zircon value:

  • Pure blue or colorless white with no yellow tint
  • Transparent and clean under magnification
  • Excellent brilliance from quality faceting
  • Natural untreated origin for colors
  • Larger stones over 5 carats
  • Rare shades like red, orange or padparadscha

The most prized zircon combines exceptional color and clarity with top-tier cutting.

Caring for Zircon Jewelry

Zircon's good hardness makes it suitable for daily wear:

  • Use warm soapy water for routine cleaning
  • Take care around abrasive surfaces and chemicals
  • Ultrasonic or steam cleaning not recommended
  • Check prong settings occasionally for security
  • Consider removing zircon rings for very active lifestyles

With reasonable care, zircon can withstand everyday wear. Protect softer untreated gemstones from abrasion.

Styling the Understated December Birthstone

Zircon's brilliance suits both solitaire and accent styling:

  • Pendants with round blue zircon framed by pavé diamonds
  • Stackable eternity bands alternately set with princess-cut zircon
  • Class rings featuring carved red or blue zircon alongside the school crest
  • Bold cufflinks with checkerboard faceting in green zircon and onyx
  • Right hand rings with antique cushion cuts surrounded by micropavé zircon
  • Elegant chandelier earrings cascading with emerald cut green zircon

Discover zircon's splendor from colorless to vivid hues. Let zircon add affordable sparkle as December's brilliant birthstone.

December Offers a Spectrum of Birthstone Riches

With triple birthstone choices, December babies can find the perfect gem resonating with their personality:

  • Rare vivid blue tanzanite
  • Vintage turquoise in soothing blue-greens
  • Affordable, sparkling zircon

Each has its own distinctive appeal spanning striking to subdued. Together, these beautiful December birthstones provide a meaningful way to celebrate the holiday season.

Let the unique properties of these phenomenal gems guide you toward December jewelry gifts filled with color and light.

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