If you were born in December, you have three birthstone options: turquoise, zircon, and tanzanite. Turquoise, a soft gemstone used in jewelry and ornamentation, has a long and illustrious history that dates back to antiquity. Zircons are a relatively unknown gemstone, yet they form wonderfully lovely jewelry. Tanzanite is a rare transparent blue-violet crystal that can only be found in Tanzania.
Why is it that certain months have just one gemstone while others have two or three? According to the website onecklace.com, having different stones for a few months allows for more economical alternatives in addition to the usual and more costly stones.
Turquoise is the December birthstone.
Turquoise is copper aluminum phosphate to chemists and geologists. It occurs when rainfall or melting snow percolates through copper porphyry deposits. The ore’s copper sulfides react with water to generate an acidic solution. When this copper-carrying acidic water combines with the aluminum and potassium in the rocks, it causes the turquoise to precipitate into holes. In dry areas, turquoise may be found in worn volcanic rock and sedimentary rock.
Turquoise is a somewhat soft gemstone, having a Mohs hardness rating of five to six. With modest power, you can scrape or shatter turquoise. This porous opaque stone is readily discolored by oil and paints. It also changes color as it loses part of its water content.
Hard, reasonably non-porous, compact stones provide the nicest look because they may be carefully polished. “Softer” variants that are more porous are treated with oil, paraffin, liquid plastic, or water glass to improve durability and color.
Copper gives turquoise a sky-blue hue, whereas iron gives it a greener hue. The most valuable kind of turquoise has a bright sky-blue hue, similar to that of a robin’s egg. Ochre and brown-black veins, which are common in gemstones, are inclusions from the underlying rock matrix.
Some of the greatest turquoises in the world originate from Iran, which is known for its sky-blue stones from Neyshabur. People in Egypt have been mining turquoise in the Sinai Peninsula for over 5,000 years. Turquoise may be found in numerous southwestern states, including Arizona, California, Colorado, New Mexico, and Nevada. This stone may also be found in Afghanistan, Australia, China, India, Tibet, Mexico, and Brazil.
The term turquoise is derived from the French phrase Pierre turquoise, which means “Turkish stone.” This is because Venetian merchants introduced the diamond to Europe after purchasing it from Turkish dealers.
Turquoise was used as jewelry by the governing classes of civilizations in Africa, Asia, and the Americas in antiquity. Beads dating from the late sixth millennium BCE have been discovered in ancient Iraq. Turquoise bracelets were found on the arm of a lady in the tomb of Zer, a pharaoh who reigned Egypt circa 3000 BCE. A 3,700-year-old dragon relic from the Xia Dynasty composed of over 2,000 pieces of turquoise was discovered in the grave of a nobleman in central China.
Turquoise in the Americas
Turquoise has a long history in the American Southwest. For thousands of years, Native Americans have used this gemstone to make jewelry and decorative objects. Turquoise jewelry is particularly popular among the Apache, Navajo, Pueblo, and Zuni peoples.
The Zuni name for turquoise is sky stone. During the summer growing season, Pueblo dancers wear turquoise to bring rain. The Navajo connect turquoise with health and protection, and the stone is used in significant rites of passage. While the Apache thought that turquoise could be found at the end of a rainbow and that turquoise affixed to a bow or cannon insured perfect aim.
Turquoise was used in pre-Columbian societies in Mexico, Central America, and South America. Prehistoric cultures in Peru created miniature things with turquoise inlays, such as beads, figurines, and artifacts. Turquoise was used as an ornamental material among the Aztecs. It also served vital religious and ceremonial functions. A high priest, for example, who was engaged in human sacrifice had a turquoise pendant draped from his underlip. Intricate turquoise mosaics, such as that of a turquoise mosaic mask used in a king’s burial, were a significant Aztec art style.
Turquoise is said by some to be a love charm. When given as a gift, it is said to represent a commitment of love. Shakespeare incorporated this legend in “The Merchant of Venice.” In it, Leah gives Shylock a turquoise ring while he is a bachelor in the hopes that it would capture his affections and prompt him to ask her to marry him.
There are several additional superstitions related to turquoise. Arabian literature from the eleventh century said that “the turquoise glows when the air is clear and goes pale when the air is dull.” They also thought that its hue varied with the weather. People thought it would protect its wearer from damage if he fell from a horse in the 13th century.