Saturday, December 21, 2013

December birthstones - By Nathan Swan, Bonny Eagle Jewelers

There are a lot of options of popular and beautiful gemstones representing the month that Christ was born. Blue zircon replaced lapis as December’s official birthstone during a 1952 revision of monthly birthstones by the American National Association of Jewelers. In 2002, they also added tanzanite as another alternate to blue zircon, with turquoise being the original. All three of these gemstones are not only exceedingly beautiful independently, but when brought together make an incredibly beautiful and unique forever keepsake. There are endless options of custom design and style unique to every December baby when these three gemstones accompany and compliment each other’s colors and histories. 

Zircons are found in granites, or alluvial (river) deposits, and are found in a variety of blue, yellow, brown, orange, green, red and colorless gemstones. Colorless zircon has been used to imitate diamonds for years before the wide spread use of cubic zirconia. This is because colorless zircon is the closest natural gem comparable to a diamond because its fire and brilliance often flashes the colors of the rainbow. On the Mohs scale, zircon has a hardness of 7.5. Zircon is majorly mined in Norway, Sweden, Ural Mountains, India, Sri Lanka, Australia, Vietnam and Nigeria. The best gem quality stones come from Thailand, Cambodia and South-East Asia. 

Turquoise is one of the oldest known gemstones known to man and is readily available in a wide range of sizes. Turquoise appears translucent to opaque and its color ranges from a greenish blue, to robin’s egg-blue and sky-blue shades. Turquoise is most often fashioned as beads, cabochons, carvings and inlays. Its popularity is overwhelming in the American southwest even though its fissionability often fluctuates in the rest of the country. It has a hardness between 5 and 6 on the Mohs scale, and is found in Australia, Chile, China, Iran, Mexico and parts of the United States.

Tanzanite was introduced to the modern jewelry industry in the late sixties, and is a variety of the mineral zoisite. To this day, tanzanite is found exclusively in Tanzania, a country in eastern Africa. It has often been used as an alternative for sapphire before its unique color and brilliance became truly esteemed and appreciated. Tanzanite’s prices and popularity has recently surged in the jewelry world because of its dark tone, vivid saturation and beautifully striking violet-blue color. It has a hardness between 6.5 and 7 on the Mohs scale. Tanzanite typically exhibits strong pleochroism, which means that it displays different colors or depths of color at different angles. In the jewelry trade, pure blue tanzanite is valued above all other tanzanite, but some customers actually prefer the lighter and purplish colors.

Whether you were born in the month of December or not, these three gemstones are a great addition to your jewelry or gem collection, set well within both gold and silver, and they will bring you praise or compliment your wardrobe year round. They should all be cleaned with warm soapy water. Please take precautions to ensure that these gems are well taken care of in case of tragedy. Having them insured and checking with a trusted jeweler that they are tightly secured in the setting and that the prongs aren’t too worn, easily does this. Life is too short, please enjoy and appreciate yourself, your jewelry and those you love.

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