December Birthstones: Their History and Meaning
Although December is strongly associated with holiday hues of red and green, December birthday girls have far more color options when it comes to birthstone jewelry: the light, bright blue of turquoise and the many shades of zircon. Here’s some fascinating background on these December birthstones:
Turquoise: Ancient Amulet and Victorian Favorite
Ranging in color from bright robin’s egg to pastel blue to light bluish green, turquoise is one of the oldest known gemstones. This gem has been prized for thousands of years by cultures ranging from the Aztecs to the ancient Egyptians (who used it to decorate King Tut’s tomb) to the Persian empire. From ancient times to today people have ascribed special powers to turquoise. Native American tribes of the Southwest wore turquoise as an amulet thought to offer protection, in ancient Persia (and modern day Iran) some believe that wearing turquoise can ward off the “evil eye” (other people’s ill will), and over the centuries turquoise has been thought to protect people from misfortunes ranging from falls from horseback to poisoning. Although the gem is ancient the name is relatively new: The word “turquoise” dates from thirteenth century France, when the gems were brought from Turkey to Western Europe. Turquoise cabochons are often found in antique jewelry from the Victorian and Edwardian eras, and Queen Victoria gave her bridesmaids turquoise embellished brooches as gifts.
Buying turquoise as a gift: If you’re shopping for a December birthday girl, turquoise jewelry is a can’t-miss choice, but don’t forget to consider her personal style. If she likes a boho or Western look, then Southwestern style turquoise jewelry set in silver would make a great gift. If she goes for a more feminine or vintage-inspired style then consider an antique from the Victorian or Edwardian era (or a piece that looks antique). Can’t decide? Simple turquoise beads in a necklace or earrings are a timeless style she’s sure to love.
Caring for turquoise: As gemstones go, turquoise is a bit fragile, so we recommend taking special care when wearing turquoise fine jewelry. High heat can damage its surface or cause discoloration, and exposure to some chemicals, cosmetics and even skin oils can change its color. Clean turquoise with warm soapy water, but avoid steam or ultrasonic cleaners. Our jewelry specialists would be happy to answer any questions about care for your particular turquoise fine jewelry piece.
Zircon: Beauty from the Earth’s Earliest Days
Although Zircon isn’t as well-known as some other gems, this stone is a celebrity with geologists. The oldest rock ever discovered was a zircon found in Australia that is 4.4 billion years old, nearly as old as the planet itself (the oldest diamonds are 3.3 billion years old). Zircon can be found in a rainbow of colors, including blue, brown, green, orange, yellow, red and even clear. Clear zircon is one of the most brilliant non-diamond gems, and was often used as a diamond alternative in the nineteenth century (though zircon is different than cubic zirconia, a type of imitation diamond). According to the American Gemological Society, folk wisdom says that zircon has the power to relieve pain, protect travelers and prevent nightmares.
Buying zircon as a gift: With this gem you have lots of beautiful color options. You can’t go wrong with a sparkling blue, the most popular shade of zircon and a universally flattering hue. But whatever your December-born loved one’s favorite color, you can probably find zircon jewelry to match it.
Caring for zircon: Zircon is fairly durable, but it’s not as strong as sapphires and diamonds so you should avoid wearing it or storing it in places where it could get roughed up. If a zircon has been heat-treated to produce a certain color (many blue ones have been), prolonged exposure to light could lead to the gem changing back to its original hue. Clean zircon with warm water and gentle soap, but don’t use steam or ultrasonic cleaners with this gem.
If you’re a December baby, what do you think of your birthstones—do you have a favorite? Do you own any birthstone jewelry? Let us know your thoughts on Facebook or Twitter or in the comments section!