What is the Birthstone for December?
Those born in December are lucky enough to have four accepted birthstones: turquoise, zircon, blue topaz, and tanzanite. But the traditional birthstone for December is Turquoise which is a gorgeous blue-green stone with a rich history full of lore and legends. It is also the stone that celebrates the 11th wedding anniversary.
The beautifully opaque gem gets its vibrant blue green color from copper in its composition, and can range from nearly lime green, to deep teal, to robin’s egg blue.
This December birthstone has been cherished for millennia and it’s one of the oldest known gemstones. Ancient cultures all over the world have prized this blue-teal gemstone for centuries. From the Aztecs to ancient Egyptian Pharaohs and Persian rulers, Chinese artisans and also for the Native Americans, the turquoise gemstone holds a special place in their culture, spiritual beliefs, myths and legends.
Although turquoise is ancient, the name is relatively new. This gemstone’s name is derived from the French expression “pierre tourques” which translates to “Turkish stone” and originated from the thirteenth century when the gems were first brought from Turkey to Western Europe.
Turquoise mosaic mask of Xiuhtecuhtli, the Aztec god of fire
The iconic gold burial mask of Tutankhamun, inlaid with turquoise, lapis lazuli, carnelian and coloured glass
Turquoise December Birthstone's Origins & History
Turquoise has been mined in the Persian historical region for centuries. And one of the most known sites is the Nishapur district of Iran which has been a source of this intense blue stone for more than 1,000 years. Today, China is the world’s largest producer of this December birthstone, Hubei Province producind most of the gem-quality chinese turquoise. There are also well known US mines like the ones in New Mexico, Arizona and Nevada with evocative names like Dry Creek, Easter Blue, Emerald Valley and Fox.
As for it’s famous use throughout history, this December birthstone adorns the funerary mask of King Tutankhamun, who ruled Egypt more than 3,000 years ago. Montezuma II, an Aztec emperor, was also a fan of turquoise. He gifted this gemstone to Hernan Cortes, the spanish conquistador, because he mistakenly believed the man was Quetzalcoatl.
Turquoise has made a number of appearances throughout modern history as well. Queen Mary had a collection of Persian turquoise jewellery, including a dazzling tiara, necklace, brooch, and earrings. The Persian turquoise tiara was eventually passed down to Princess Margaret, who wore it until her death in 2002.
Mausoleum of Attar of Nishapur embelished in the iconic turquoise colour
Polished turquoise stones in different shades and matrix coverage
Turquoise Gemstone's Properties
Turquoise is an opaque, blue-to-green mineral, a hydrated phosphate of copper and aluminium, with a low hardness of 6 on the Mohs scale, that can be scratched or broken with little force, which makes it a great material for carving. Although softer than other gems it takes a good polish, that’s why most turquoise fine jewellery have a cabochon shape to them.
We recommend taking special care when wearing turquoise jewellery. High heat can damage its surface or cause discoloration, and exposure to some chemicals and cosmetics can change its color. Clean it with warm soapy water but avoid steam or ultrasonic cleaners.
This stunning December gemstone has a distinct color that ranges from bright robin’s egg blue to pastel greenish-blue and often has dark veins of matrix running through them.
How valuable is Turquoise?
The best part is, turquoise is an inexpensive gemstone, which makes it easy to incorporate into both fashion and fine jewellery. This birhtstone is graded on three different factors: color, texture and the presence of matrix.
Turquoise gemstones that are bright blue and even in color have the highest value. The color of the Persian turquoise mined near the modern city of Nishapur in Iran has been used as a guiding reference for evaluating turquoise quality. But, it’s important to note that turquoise with dark markings is not worthless. Some people love the striking contrast between the bright blue and the dark webbing, so these gemstones are still valuable.
Turquoise prayer beads necklace
The calming effect of a cold turquoise infused winter landscape
December Birthstone Meanings, Symbolism and Folklore
In many cultures of the Old and New Worlds, this December birthstone has been esteemed for thousands of years as a holy stone, a bringer of good fortune or a protection talisman. A common belief shared by many of the ancient civilizations held that turquoise possessed certain preventive or prophylactic qualities; it was thought to change colour with the wearer’s health and protect him or her from unexpected forces.
The Pueblo, Navajo and Apache native american tribes cherished turquoise for its amuletic use; the latter tribe believed the stone (used as arrow tips) would give the archer dead aim and ensure prosperous hunts.
Another ancient myth that contributes to the idea that turquoise is a protection stone is the one from ancient persians that believed that against a threat or in battle the wearer of this stone was in no danger of being killed. It’s no wonder that the persian word for turquoise, ferozah, means ‘victorious.’
The turquoise birthstone is said to represent a host of positive personality traits, including strength, serenity, and spirituality.
In European tradition, the gift of a turquoise ring means “forget me not”. Turquoise is considered a national treasure in Tibet, where it is believed to grant health, good fortune and protection from evil. December’s birthstone also imparts peace to those who wear it especially because of it’s relaxing cold blue hues that are so evocative of the December month.
Turquoise is also associated with the elements of air and water especially in Native American culture. It was believed that the stone was created from the tears of the Creator or some tribes thought that turquoise symbolizes the God of the Sky. Maybe that is why Turquoise is viewed as a higly spiritual stone that can enhance the connection with the divine in spiritual practices or meditations.
This december birthstone is also a special gem for the zodiac signs of Sagittarius, and less slightly, Capricorn. These are both driven and strongwilled signs that can draw from turquoise’s capabilities to promote self-confidence and emotional self-expression. It is believed to help one see their life from a higher perspective and get rid of bad habits.
Buying & Gifting December Birthstone Jewellery
Have a loved one whose birthstone is turquoise, and looking for an appropriate gift? Turquoise makes a great jewellery gift for celebrating long-lasting love or for reminding our dear ones of their best qualities.
Turquoise is a one-of-a-kind gemstone because of its long and cherished history, spiritual meanings, serene colours and it’s also inexpensive, making it a great jewellery gift for yourself or your loved ones.