Blue Skies and a Holiday Surprise—Celebrating December’s birthstones

Blue Skies and a Holiday Surprise—Celebrating December’s birthstones

December birthstones

The air outside may be crisp, but December’s birthstones— turquoise, zircon, and Tanzanite—bring the blue sky to your holiday outfits. As the GIA writes, each “has its own unique take on the color blue.” We’ve discussed Tanzanite previously so let’s focus on the first two.

turquoise earrings

Turquoise: Native American holy stone

  • This semi-translucent stone ranges from blue to green; the veins that are identified with these gems are called “matrix,” which stems from the rock in which it was formed.
  • The Apache thought they could find turquoise at the end of a rainbow; the Pueblo believed its color came from the sky.
  • Turquoise has been around for centuries, since before biblical times—it was found in King Tut’s tomb.
  • In Europe, the gift of a turquoise ring traditionally meant “forget-me-not.”
  • While we think of New Mexico and Arizona as sources of turquoise, China’s the world’s largest producer while the most valuable stones come from Iran.
  • Healers believe turquoise purifies, ridding the wearer of negative energy and pollutants. It also stabilizes mood swings.
zircon ring

Zircon: Fire and flash

  • Don’t confuse this natural, blazing gemstone with man-made “cubic zirconia.” This zircon is one of the oldest gemstones around.
  • While we’re celebrating blue zircon in December, it comes in a range of colors along with clear (which can cause it to be mistaken for a diamond).
  • It features “double refraction” (double the facets), which means that it has twice as much fire—and rainbow flashes—than other stones.
  • The most valuable colors are blue, bright red, and green.
  • Healers believe zircon is helpful when detoxing, sleeping better, and dealing with loss.

Caring for turquoise and zircon jewelry

  • According to the GIA, some turquoise is dyed or chemically enhanced to improve its color and hardness. It can be damaged by high heat, cosmetics, and perspiration, so it should be cleaned with warm, soapy water. Avoid ultrasonic cleaners.
  • Zircon is commonly heat-treated to produce the blue stones. Bright light may bleach out the color. It can be scratched, so avoid wearing it when you’re gardening or doing the dishes. Like turquoise, use warm, soapy water to clean your zircon jewelry.
turquoise brooch

Buying tips

  • The most desirable turquoise is strong sky blue to robin’s-egg blue. A white mineral, howlite, is sometimes dyed blue to look like turquoise; A cotton ball dipped in acetone can verify that it hasn’t been dyed.
  • When buying zircon jewelry, look for clear stones, with no major flaws. Most zircons are smaller stones and, surprisingly, denser (heavier) than a similar-sized diamond or other gem.

If you get jewelry as a holiday gift (or treat yourself), start with a professional appraisal. Same goes for a new engagement ring—’tis the season! It’s the first step to protecting your beautiful, valuable gems with insurance. Contact me and I’ll make it happen! Reach me at 617-304-0174 or by email at aimee@ambappraisal.com.

Wishing you colorful holidays, Aimee

About Aimee Berrent

Aimee M. Berrent is the owner of A Matter of Brilliance and a GIA Graduate Gemologist. She offers appraisal services such as jewelry appraisals, diamond appraisals, and estate appraisals within Massachusetts and all over the East Coast.
Aimee has over 25 years experience in the jewelry trade, and received her Graduate Gemologist (G.G.) in Residence diploma from the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) in Santa Monica, California, and is a member of the National Association of Jewelry Appraisers (NAJA).
Aimee has advanced training in jewelry appraisal theory. She frequently attends jewelry conferences and takes courses to stay on top of current gemological advances and appraisal training.


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