December birthstones: Turquoise, tanzanite and zircon

As the year draws to a close, those celebrating a December birthday have the choice of three stunning – and very different – blue birthstones.

Tanzanite, zircon and turquoise are all known as December birthstones. The three blue jewels may share a colour but each is distinct with a unique history.

One is a mineral that holds the secret to the very origins of life. Another, a gemstone with a diverse cultural heritage. And the third a jewel that is found nowhere other than the foothills of Africa’s highest mountain. If you were born in December, the month offers a truly sensational trio of birthstones.

Turquoise

Perhaps the most popular and well known of the three, turquoise was the original, traditional birthstone for December. This opaque blue-green stone has enduring appeal and has been mined for use in jewellery for millennia.

The name, which is now used to describe the stone’s colour, is derived from the French word for Turkish, which is turquois. This is because the stone once travelled through Turkey on the trade route to Europe from Egypt.

A rich cultural history

What the stone lacks in sparkle, it makes up for with its intense colour, which is flecked with brown or blue veins. Many wearers are also attracted by its rich cultural history. Turquoise was significant in many indigenous American cultures. Navajo shepherds, for example, believed turquoise beads gave protection from storms, while the Apaches used turquoise in their weapons believing it would make them better warriors.

In Ancient Egypt, pharaohs were often decorated with turquoise jewellery before they were entombed. The stone has also been found in beads from Iraq, which have been dated to 5,000BC.

Enduringly popular

Turquoise never goes out of style and remains popular today. Thanks to its accessible price tag and versatility, it is used across jewellery types and looks stunning set against any precious metal.

While many pieces of turquoise jewellery are relatively low in value, growing numbers of high end jewellers are choosing to place this unusual stone centre stage in luxury pieces. Frost of London’s Marli New York collection is a true celebration of turquoise, with the striking stone set among diamonds on white, yellow or rose gold. In Bulgari’s luxury Diva’s Dream watch, turquoise provides a dramatic frame for a glittering display of diamonds and tanzanites.

Tanzanite

One of the Earth’s rarest gemstones, tanzanite has only ever been found in a small area at the foothills of Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania.

It is prized for its ‘trichrosim’, which means its colour switches between blue to violet when it is turned in the light.

A recent discovery

Unlike turquoise, this precious stone was discovered relatively recently and was named by Tiffany & Co in the 1960s. Spotting the deep blue stone’s great potential, the iconic New York jeweller named it after the place of its discovery and launched it through a promotional campaign.

The red carpet favourite

Despite being rarer than diamond and only recently discovered, tanzanite has been spotted adorning many celebrities, including Cate Blanchett, Anne Hathaway and Penelope Cruz. Its lush colour and brilliance make it a truly glamorous gemstone.

Many of us may be unaware that we have seen a perfect example of a tanzanite on the big screen. The heart-shaped blue pendant worn by Kate Winslet in 1997 blockbuster Titanic was in fact a tanzanite.

Zircon

The oldest known mineral on Earth, this December birthstone was here more than four billion years ago and pre-dates the moon. While zircon comes in many colours, it is the blue stone that is associated with December.

Older than the moon

Because of its fire and brilliance, zircon is sometimes used as an imitation diamond. This, however, does not afford this stunning gemstone the status it deserves. After all, zircon is not only beautiful, it holds secrets to the origins of life on Earth.

In 2001, zircon crystals, which were discovered on a sheep ranch in Western Australia, were dated at 4.4 billion years old. Scientists analysing the microscopic crystals found evidence that the Earth could have supported life around a billion years earlier than previously thought.

And it doesn’t stop there. Scientists recently discovered zircon in Martian meteorites. This cosmic mineral could reveal even more in future.

True blue brilliance

Not only is this ancient gemstone helping scientists to rethink the origins of life itself, it has been popular in jewellery throughout the ages.

In the Middle Ages, it was believed to help you sleep and bring prosperity and wisdom, while warding off evil. Blue zircon was a particular favourite in Victorian times, when stones with a smoky colour were often selected for mourning jewellery.

Despite its extraordinary qualities, zircon is relatively affordable. Perhaps this is because its name means it is sometimes confused with synthetic cubic zirconia. However, if you own a piece of natural zircon jewellery, you not only have a stone with a sparkle to rival a diamond, you also own a piece of the Earth’s history.

 

If you were born in December, take your pick between these gemstones, which are not only eye-catching but also full of intrigue and mystery. Alternatively, why not celebrate your birth month and grow your jewellery collection by choosing all three?

Whatever your stone and whatever your style, TH March can help you protect your precious items. Our bespoke jewellery and watch insurance means you can relax in the knowledge that it is covered.

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