December has a whopping three birthstones, all in soothing shades of blue: the brilliant teal of blue zircon, the perfect violet of tanzanite or the blue-green of turquoise.
Zircon — not to be confused with cubic zirconia, everyone’s favorite faux diamond — is a fascinating mineral that comes in a variety of colors, the most famous being Blue Zircon, which comes in lovely shades of blue and blue-green. It’s highly refractive, being one of the only gemstones that displays fire — the rainbow colors you see as light splits. Along with diamonds, it’s one of the only gemstones with this property that is durable enough for normal wear.
ZIRCON: MEANING & ANCIENT LORE
- Zircons are some of the oldest stones on earth. Because some stones contain radioactive elements uranium and thorium, zircons have been found that are 4.4 billion years old— almost as old as the Earth itself! Don’t worry, though— they’re still safe to wear.
- Zircon is one of the few precious stones mentioned in the Bible—called jacinth or hyacinth.
- Zircon can sometimes display chatoyance—the gemological term for a cats-eye effect.
Discovered in Tanzania in 1967, tanzanite remains one of the rarest gemstones on the market — all of the world’s tanzanite comes from four square miles! Deep blue and blue-violet stones are highly prized. Tanzanite is the blue form of the mineral zooisite.
TANZANITE: MEANING & ANCIENT LORE
- Tanzanite is one of the few stones that is trichroic—it shows three separate colors depending on how you tilt the stone. Tanzanite can show flashes of blue, violet and red.
- Tanzanite is named after its country of origin; it was given that name by Tiffany’s, who launched the stone in the late sixties.
- At 508.06 carats, the Ophir Tanzanite is the largest cut gem tanzanite in the world.
Famous for its rich teal color, turquoise is found in arid regions, where copper-rich water seeps through cracks in a rock along with aluminum and phosphorous. It is a popular component in Native American art and jewelry. Some of the finest turquoise comes from Arizona including the legendary “Sleeping Beauty” turquoise.
TURQUOISE: MEANING & ANCIENT LORE
- Some of the oldest jewelry in the world is made of turquoise—jewelry in Ancient Egyptian tombs has been found, dating back four thousand years!
- The Egyptians called Turquoise “Mefkat”, their word for delight or joy.
- The shade of color in turquoise is caused by trace amounts of metal—blue is caused by copper, green by iron, and the less desirable yellow by zinc.
Questions about zircon, tanzanite or turquoise? Text us at 408-446-2900 or use our Contact Form.
BUYER’S GUIDE: ZIRCON
WHAT TO LOOK FOR: COLOR
Blue Zircon is priced based on the intensity of color—richly saturated teal and blue are more highly prized. The rarest and most in-demand zircons are the uncommon green zircons. Cut is always important, but especially so with zircon. Poorly cut blue zircon can look foggy or blurry.
BUYER’S GUIDE: TANZANITE
WHAT TO LOOK FOR: COLOR
The most important factor in tanzanite is color—cheap, plentiful tanzanite in pale blue and lavender has flooded the market— make sure you get the good stuff! High-quality tanzanite should have a deep, rich color.
BUYER’S GUIDE: TURQUOISE
Turquoise is one of the most easily and frequently imitated gems—what looks like fine turquoise could be dyed howlite, or even a polymer coated quartz! Make sure you trust your source. Additionally, a lot of real turquoise is treated with dyes and fillers to improve its appearance and marketability—ask questions so you know what you’re buying!
CARE & CLEANING OF YOUR JEWELRY
Zircon is rated 6.5 to 7 on the Mohs scale of hardness. Tanzanite is rated 6 to 7 and turquoise is rated 5 to 6. This makes all three gemstones more susceptible to damage than rubies, sapphires and diamonds. When wearing turquoise, be careful because it is porous, soft, and very vulnerable to chemicals. Remember to bring your fine jewelry in at least twice a year for stone/setting checking and professional cleaning — not only is it a great excuse for us to see you and say hello, it will also keep your cherished pieces in tip-top shape! Amethyst jewelry may be safely cleaned at home with warm soapy water and a soft brush. Click here for our step-by-step guide to cleaning jewelry at home.
Source: GIA (Gemological Institute of America)