12 December

title dec

dec tanz zircon turqDECEMBER BIRTHSTONE

December’s birthstones offer three ways to fight the winter blues: tanzanite, zircon and turquoise – all of them, appropriately, best known for beautiful shades of blue. These gems range from the oldest on earth (zircon), to one of the first mined and used in jewelry (turquoise), to one of the most recently discovered (tanzanite).

All of these stones are relatively inexpensive, but their beauty rivals even precious gems. Colorless zircon is a convincing replacement for diamond, tanzanite often substitutes sapphire, and turquoise is unmatched in its hue of robin’s egg blue. Whatever your style preference or budget, one of December’s three birthstones will match your true blue desires.

Tanzanite: Tanzanite is the exquisite blue variety of the mineral zoisite that is only found in one part of the world. Named for its limited geographic origin in Tanzania, tanzanite has quickly risen to popularity since its relatively recent discovery. Zoisite had been around more than a century and a half before this rare blue variety was found in 1967. Trace amounts of vanadium, mixed with extreme heat, cause the blue color – which ranges from pale blue to intense ultramarine with violet undertones.

Due to pleochroism, tanzanite can display different colors when viewed from different angles. Stones must be cut properly to highlight the more attractive blue and violet hues, and deemphasize the undesirable brown tones. The majority of tanzanite on the market today is heat treated to minimize the brown colors found naturally, and to enhance the blue shades that can rival sapphire. Tanzanite is still only found on a few square miles of land in Tanzania, near majestic Mount Kilimanjaro. Its price and availability are directly tied to mines in this region. Tanzanite measures 6.5 to 7 on the Mohs scale of hardness – which is not nearly as hard as the sapphire it often substitutes. Given its vulnerability to scratch during daily wear and abrasion, tanzanite is better suited for earrings and pendants than rings.

Between its deep blue color and its limited supply, tanzanite is treasured by many – whether one is born in December or not!

Zircon: Zircon is an underrated gem that’s often confused with synthetic cubic zirconia due to similar names and shared use as diamond simulants. Few people realize that zircon is a spectacular natural gem available in a variety of colors. The name zircon likely comes from the Persian word zargun, meaning “gold-colored.” Others trace it to the Arabic zarkun, meaning “vermillion.” Given its wide range of colors – spanning red, orange, yellow, green, blue and brown – both origins make sense.

Zircon commonly occurs brownish red, which can be popular for its earth tones. However, most gem-quality stones are heat treated until colorless, gold or blue (the most popular color). Blue zircon, in particular, is the alternative birthstone for December. Color differences in zircon are caused by impurities, some of which (like uranium) can be slightly radioactive. These gems are also treated with heat to stabilize the radioactivity. While radiation can break down zircon’s crystal structure, it plays a crucial role in radiometric dating. Zircon, the oldest mineral on earth, contains important clues about the formation of our planet. Colorless zircon, known as Matura Diamond, displays brilliance and flashes of multicolored “fire” that can rival fine diamond. There’s one key difference though: Zircon is more brittle. Though it measures 7.5 on the Mohs scale of hardness, its faceted edges can chip.

Zircon from Australia dates back 4.4 billion years. Australia still leads the world in zircon mining, producing 37 percent of the world’s supply. Other sources include Thailand, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Cambodia, Canada and the United States.Since the Middle Ages, people have believed that zircon can induce sleep, ward off evil and promote prosperity.

Turquoise: Admired since ancient times, turquoise is known for its distinct color, which ranges from powdery blue to greenish robin’s egg blue. It’s one of few minerals to lend its name to anything that resembles its striking color. The word turquoise dates back to the 13th century, drawing from the French expression pierre tourques, which referenced the “Turkish stone” brought to Europe from Turkey. Ancient Persia (now Iran) was the traditional source for sky blue turquoise. This color is often called “Persian blue” today, regardless of its origin. The Sinai Peninsula in Egypt was also an important historical source.

The U.S. is now the world’s largest turquoise supplier. Nevada, New Mexico, California and Colorado have produced turquoise, but Arizona leads in production by value, as well as quality. The stone’s popularity here makes it a staple in Native American jewelry. Turquoise is found in arid regions where rainwater dissolves copper in the soil, forming colorful nodular deposits when it combines with aluminum and phosphorus. Copper contributes blue hues, while iron and chrome add a hint of green. Some turquoise contains pieces of host rock, called matrix, which appear as dark webs or patches in the material. This can lower the stone’s value, although the uniform “spiderweb” pattern of Southwestern turquoise is attractive. Turquoise is sensitive to direct sunlight and solvents like makeup, perfume and natural oils. The hardest turquoise only measures 6 on the Mohs scale, which made this soft stone popular in carved talismans throughout history.

From ancient Egyptians to Persians, Aztecs and Native Americans, kings and warriors alike admired turquoise for thousands of years. It adorned everything from jewelry to ceremonial masks to weapons and bridles – granting power and protection, particularly against falls. Highly esteemed for its striking namesake color and its ancient history, turquoise remains popular through time.

 

All information here came from the American Gem Society. Read more about the overview, history, and how to buy these December birthstones on the American Gem Society website.

 

 

 

09 September

 

Sapphire

September StoneSEPTEMBER BIRTHSTONE

September’s birthstone is the sapphire—a precious gem of wisdom, loyalty, and nobility. This stone is said to focus the mind, encourage self-discipline and channel higher powers.

When people say “sapphire,” they’re usually referring to the royal blue variety of this gem, although it can occur in all colors of the rainbow (except red, which is classified as ruby instead).

This lovely gem gives September-born babies a full spectrum of options when choosing the shade of birthstone that best represents them.

- American Gem Society

 

Velvety blue. Liquid blue. Evening-sky blue. Cornflower blue. Sapphire, beloved for centuries as the ultimate blue gemstone. The ancient Persian rulers believed that the earth rested on a giant sapphire and its reflection colored the heavens blue. Indeed, the very name in Latin, "Sapphiru," means blue.

But like the endless colors that appear in the sky, sapphire is also found in many, many other shades besides blue, from the gold of a sunrise, to the fiery reddish-orange of sunset, to the delicate violet of twilight. Sapphire may even resemble the pale white gloaming of an overcast day. These diverse colors are referred to as "fancy" color sapphires.

A gift of a sapphire symbolizes a pledge of trust and loyalty. It is from this tradition that sapphire has long been a popular choice for engagement rings...

- American Gem Trade Association

10 October

title oct tourmaline opal

oct tourmalineOCTOBER BIRTHSTONE

The October birthstones are Tourmaline and Opal. Tourmaline’s colors have many different causes. It’s generally agreed that traces of iron, and possibly titanium, induce green and blue colors. Manganese produces reds and pinks, and possibly yellows. Some pink and yellow tourmalines might owe their hues to color centers caused by radiation, which can be natural or laboratory-induced..  - Gemological Institute of America

Because opal has the colors of other gems, the Romans thought it was the most precious and powerful of all. The Bedouins believed that opals contained lightning and fell from the sky during thunderstorms. When Australia’s mines began to produce opals commercially in the 1890s, it quickly became the world’s primary source for this October birthstone... - Gemological Institute of America

Gemological Institute of America gemstone resources

- Tourmaline Description
- Tourmaline History and Lore

- Opal Description
- Opal History and Lore

11 November

title nov topaz citrine

nov topaz citrineNOVEMBER BIRTHSTONE

Individuals born in November can choose between two sunny gemstones to brighten up this chilly month. November’s birthstones, topaz, and citrine, are both known for their calming energies, bringing warmth and fortune to those who wear them.

Topaz and citrine look so similar, in fact, that they’ve often been mistaken for one another throughout history. They are actually unrelated minerals, and topaz occurs in a wide spectrum of colors far beyond yellow.

Both of November’s birthstones are fairly abundant and affordably priced, even in large sizes, which means everyone can find a way to fit topaz and citrine into their budget.

Read more about the overview, history, and how to buy these November birthstones on the American Gem Society website.

 

02 February

title feb

February AmethystFEBRUARY BIRTHSTONE

Amethyst is purple quartz and is a beautiful blend of violet and red that can be found in every corner of the earth. The name comes from the Ancient Greek, derived from the word “methustos,” which means “intoxicated.” Ancient wearers believed the gemstone could protect them from drunkenness.

Amethyst, as previously mentioned, is composed of quartz, which is the second most abundant material found in the Earth’s crust. Amethyst gets its color from irradiation, iron impurities and the presence of trace elements. Its hardness (a 7 on the Mohs scale) is the same as other quartz, which makes it a durable and lasting option for jewelry.

While amethyst is most commonly recognized to be a purple color, the gemstone can actually range from a light pinkish violet to a deep purple that can read more blue or red, depending on the light. Sometimes, even the same stone can have layers or color variants, so the way the gemstone is cut is important to the way the color shows in a finished piece.

Amethyst often occurs in geodes or in the cavities of granitic rocks. It can be found all over the world, including the United States, Canada Brazil and Zambia.

The amethyst is not only the February birthstone, it is also used to celebrate the 6th and 17th year of marriage.

 

All information here came from the American Gem Society. Read more about the overview, history, and how to buy amethyst on the American Gem Society website.

 

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