Turquoise is the birthstone for December, and its famous sky-blue of turquoise is one of the oldest and most popular gemstone varieties in the world. Mined for thousands of years, turquoise have been prized by civilizations from all corners of the globe, including the ancient Egyptians, Aztecs, North American Indians, and others.
Turquoise’s incredible opaque hue comes from a combination of copper and iron, which exhibit blue and green, respectively. It first came to Europe through Turkey around the time of the Crusades – hence the name, which means “Turkish.”
An alternate birthstone for December is zircon. Celebrated since the Middle Ages, zircon comes in an array of colors, including blue, green, red, yellow, brown, orange, and clear. Because of its similarity to zirconia, a synthetic diamond, zircon is relatively unknown and misunderstood natural gemstone.
Zircon is one of the heaviest gems, and was once though to aid in sleep, bringing prosperity and wisdom to its owner. Zircon’s namesake most likely comes from the Persian word “zargun,” which means gold-colored.
Another birthstone for December is tanzanite. Found only in the foothills of Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, this mineral exhibits stunning hues of violet, sapphire blue, and burgundy. Called “the gemstone of the 20th century,” tanzanite was only discovered with the last half century, and was vigorously mined for only a few years before the mines were nationalized by the Tanzanian government.