As the year comes to a close, we embark on the final chapter of our 12-month series of monthly birthstones. We will be completing our birthstone journey in December, with not just one but three marvellous stones: tanzanite, zircon and turquoise.
Being born in December could by triply powerful if you believe in the mystical strength of birthstones. In the George Frederick Kunz book ‘The Curious Lore of Precious Stones’, first published by Harvard University in 1913, the mysterious properties of stones were said to be stronger in their respective month. Wearing any one of these three stones in December, or a combination of all three, is thought by some to heighten their power immensely and can bring ample good will and luck to your life.
With this titillating promise in mind, let’s delve into the lore of each of these spectacular stones, as well as reveal the best ways to wear these as jewellery.
The American Gem Society (AGS) noted that tanzanite is named after the country where it was first unearthed, Tanzania. This vibrant violet-blue coloured stone was only discovered in the late 1960s, making it a fairly newly found precious stone in the broad history of gemstones. Some would even say it’s a young stone, but it is replete with a rich history linked to the Maasai people of Tanzania.
The Maasai had high respect for the colour blue, believing it was symbolic of sacredness, healing and especially that it was representative of new life. It’s because of this affinity to rebirth that some feel tanzanite is the ultimate ‘birthstone’. Due to this, tanzanite is frequently gifted at childbirth, baby showers or at the beginning of a new life journey of some sort to commemorate the auspicious moment.
Tanzanite’s crowning glory is certainly its rich statement colour, always somewhere in the spectrum between blue and purple. The stone is often heat-treated to amplify its natural hues, and the most expensive are ones with vivid saturation, medium-to-dark tones or on the other hand a delicate lilac hue to them.
What’s lovely about this stone is the love with which it is now being looked after and sustainably mined, thanks to the efforts of The Tanzanite Foundation, a not-for-profit that strives to ensure the production of this stunning stone is ethical.
Wear tanzanite with cool-coloured clothing from the blue, green and purple palette to complement its tones best. Ladies, turn to some lilac eyeshadow or adorn your lips with plum or deep purple lipsticks to suit tanzanite earrings and necklaces.
— Glintstone Magazine (@glintstonemag) December 1, 2015
This stone also has a fascinating history, as its name derives from Arabic words ‘zar’ and ‘gun’, which translate to ‘gold’ and ‘colour’ respectively, as noted by the AGS. It’s interesting that although zircon’s name has Arabic roots, the most bountiful parts of the world for finding this stone are based in Asia. Southern Vietnam, Thailand’s Chanthaburi area and the Palin region of Cambodia are all replete with zircon.
While it’s associated with the word gold, zircon is in fact found in a multitude of colours including yellow, blue, brown, orange, green and even colourless – these clear zircon were frequently used as replica diamonds. However, red zircon is the most prized.
In terms of its folk lore, the AGS reports that zircon is believed to relieve pain and keep travellers safe from disease and injury. This makes zircon jewellery an ideal ‘get well soon’ or ‘bon voyage’ gift for loved ones. Zircon is also thought to ensure a warm welcome and protect us from nightmares, granting us a blissful sleep.
Nov 30, 2015 at 1:48pm PST
The third musketeer in December’s group of birthstones is perhaps the most well known of the three. Turquoise is a popular stone, and also one of the oldest due to its origins in the 13th century, as noted by the AGS.
Other historians and scholars will point to ancient Aztec and Inca gold jewellery from South America in the 3rd-7th century, which often inlayed necklaces and large earrings with turquoise stones. One look through the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s collection of these jewellery items will show you how lavishly turquoise stones were used in their creations. Even the historic Buddhist artworks from the Himalayas region show evidence of this stone being used in jewellery. The AGS though notes that the name comes from the French phrase ‘Pierre tourques’ or ‘Turkish stone’, showcasing the Oriental vibe of the pastel blue stone.
Don’t miss “Sacred Traditions of the Himalayas,” closing Sunday. In this exhibition, study a diverse range of artworks from the Himalayas and the ways in which they functioned as devotional objects, both personal and public, for their Buddhist audience. Amulet Box of a Noblewoman, late 19th–early 20th century. Tibet. #metmuseum #SacredTraditions #AsianArt100
A photo posted by The Metropolitan Museum of Art (@metmuseum) on
Jun 10, 2015 at 3:22pm PDT
Turquoise colours run the gamut from sea-green blue to sky blue shades, with robin’s egg-blue hues making up the middle spectrum. Translucency and opaqueness also vary from stone to stone.
Due to its versatility, you can wear turquoise with almost anything. More opaque variants have a bohemian feel, used as large chunky bracelets or statement rings. Translucent turquoise is more delicate, ideal paired with diamonds for a sophisticated touch.