12. December Birthstones

12. December Birthstones
December has five blue gems considered birthstones for the last month of the year. Blue Topaz, Turquoise and Tanzanite are the modern birthstones with Blue Zircon and Lapis as the traditional gems.

Turquoise is an opaque blue or green mineral that has been prized as a gem since at least 6000 BC., when it was mined by the early Egyptians. The best quality turquoise is rare and valuable, though poorer quality turquoise is easily available and often dyed or color stabilized with a resin coating. The resin coating helps to maintain the look of the stone, because it is a soft gem and the color can change with exposure to skin oils if it has not been stabilized. The word turquoise comes from the French word ‘turquoise’ which means Turkish. Although turquoise is not found in Turkey, it was traded at Turkish bazaars to Venetian merchants who brought it to Europe.

Turquoise is a sacred stone for the North American Indians as well as the Tibetans. The Native Americans believe Turquoise prevents illness and if given as a gift it brings wealth and happiness. It is often used by shamans in rituals and ceremonies and is said to promote mental and spiritual clarity and to enhance wisdom, trust, kindness and understanding. Turquoise is also said to be a symbol of luck and friendship.

Naturally occurring Blue Topaz is rare. Topaz is usually mined as a colorless stone that turns blue when it is heated or irradiated, either through a natural source or man made in order to produce the desired blue shade. A gift of Blue Topaz represents love and fidelity. Topaz is said to dispel sadness, anger and nocturnal fears, to warn its wearer of poisons and protect him or her from sudden death.

Zircon is a mineral which is as beautiful and has as much flash as a diamond. It is a natural stone so don't confuse it with the man made gem, cubic zirconium. The name Zircon is derived from the Arabic word ‘zarqun’, meaning vermilion, or from the Persian ‘zargun’, meaning golden-colored. Zircons are used to increase intuition, durability and steadiness. The zircon gemstone is said to aid in the easing of depression and insomnia.

Tanzanite was first discovered in 1967 in Tanzania, East Africa. Legend has it that it was Masai cattle herders that first noticed this stone after a fire caused by lightening burned areas in Tanzania. The herders noticed that brown zoiscite crystals had turned a deep blue-purple due to the heat from the fire. That legend actually has at least some truth to it. Tanzanite is often a blue color when first mined, but it can also be brown and is routinely heat treated to permanently draw out its bluish-purple color.

There are no legends or healing properties associated with Tanzanite yet because it is such a new gemstone.

Lapis Lazuli is a deep blue gemstone that may contain white calcite or pyrite colored inclusions. Like Turquoise, this gem has been mined for thousands of years by the Egyptians who not only used it in jewelry and carvings, but also to color cosmetics. Other societies valued its blue color and used it for seals (by the Assyrians and Babylonians) and ground it into powder to produce bright blue paint by Renaissance artists. The name is derived from the Latin 'lapis' which means stone, and from the Persian word 'lazhward' which means blue rock.

Lapis is thought to promote wisdom and insight, to influence spiritual thinking and psychic abilities, and to enhance the inner self. As a healing stone, it is used for emotional healing, disorders of the throat, bone marrow, thymus, and the immune system.

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