Birthstones are different-colored gemstones that people associate with certain months of the year. They are believed to have healing properties that become more potent in the course of their associated months.
People born in December share their birthdays with one of the most popular holiday seasons of the year.🎅🏻 If you are planning to get them a gift, getting them one that features a birthstone for December is a great way to show your love and thoughtfulness.
That said, what is the birthstone for December? This article will take a deep dive into what they are, as well as highlighting popular December birthstone meanings to help you figure out how to turn them into the perfect gift.🎁
What are the birthstones for December?
December is the month of joy, cheer, and kindness. It has three different birthstones: 👉🏻tanzanite, zircon, and turquoise.
Until 1962, tanzanite was known as zoisite. It was discovered in 1967 by some Maasai herdsmen. Once they found it, they took it to a fortune prospector from the area, Manual d’Souza. He then went to the relevant authorities and had the location registered.
The Merelani Hills in Tanzania is the only place in the world where tanzanite can be mined, which explains where the stone got its name. In 2002, it became one of the three December birthstones.
Tanzanite occurs naturally as a blue gemstone. Although it can come out of the ground in its perfect blue color, sometimes, it may have some brown hues and tints. When this happens, you have to cut and treat it to get the blue hue that it is loved for.
The treatment process involves subjecting it to a lot of heat. However, while other heat-treated gems are usually exposed to temperatures of more than 1,000°F for a couple of days, tanzanite only needs to be subjected to temperatures around 600°F for an hour or less for it to get its hue.
A phenomenon called pleochroism causes tanzanite to show different colors when it is looked at from different angles. For this reason, it has to be cut properly to ensure that the blue and violet tones are more prominent than the brown shades.
Symbolism and meaning
As a birthstone, tanzanite is used as a symbol of enlightenment in the intellectual and spiritual realms. It signifies wisdom and truth.
Some people believe that by wearing tanzanite, you will be able to search within yourself and in the process, get enlightened and find meaning in your life.
If you thought that since tanzanite occurs in only one place it’s rarity would make it expensive, you’d be wrong. ⚠️The price of tanzanite depends on the carat weight and whether it is AAA grade or investment-grade mined.
1 carat of AAA tanzanite costs around $480. 2 to 3 carats will cost you about $550. Tanzanite gems that are anywhere between 3 and 10 carats will cost around $575.
On the Mohs scale of hardness, tanzanite measures somewhere between 6.5 and 7. This means that although it is slightly durable, it can still get damaged when it falls to the ground or gets scratched.
How to care for tanzanite
The only way to ensure that your tanzanite jewel retains its natural velvet-like appeal is by taking caution and care when it comes to cleaning and handling it. When cleaning, use a small soft brush with warm soapy water. After the wash ensure you rinse it properly and air it to dry.
Avoid any cleaning methods that will expose the stone to any vibrations. These can alter the structure of the stone, reducing its value. Also, as you clean your tanzanite birthstone jewelry, avoid oils and any cleaners with harsh chemicals. These can ruin the stone and lower its value.
Zircon was first discovered in Australia. Through carbon dating methods, it’s been dated back to 4.4 billion years ago. Although Australia is the lead global producer of zircon at 37% of the world's supply, several other countries also produce small quantities. These include Sri Lanka, Canada, the United States, Tanzania, Thailand, and Cambodia.
Zircon’s name has conflicting origins. Some say it comes from the Persian word “zargun”, which means gold-colored. Others claim it is derived from the Arabic word for vermilion, “zarkun”. Since the appearance of zircon matches both these ancient descriptions, there is no sure way to tell which of them is right.
In 1952, zircon took the place of the gemstone lapis lazuli as a modern birthstone.
In its natural, untreated state, zircon appears as a brownish-red gem. You can also find this December birthstone in orange, yellow, brown, green, and blue.🎨 The color differences in the gemstone are usually caused by impurities like uranium.
The treatment process for zircon includes subjecting it to heat. The heat gets rid of the impurities by stabilizing the radioactive material (uranium) in the gem. This usually results in the gem's color changing to blue, colorless, and gold, which are the gem’s most popular colors. Sometimes, though, it may turn red or orange.
When exposed to bright light for long periods, zircon can go back to its original color.
Symbolism and meaning
During the middle ages, zircon was believed to provide the owner with wisdom, honor, and success. Some cultures, for example, the Hindus, also believed that having a zircon gem helped you to get better rest. They believed that zircon, or its alternative, hessonite, could be used to nurse the wearer into a deep sleep while warding off evil spirits.
Since it is not rare, zircon is not too valuable. The price per carat depends on the color of the stone and its saturation.
Finely saturated blue zircon over 10 carats costs about $400 per carat. Golden zircon is cheaper, often priced together with red and honey zircon. Red zircon costs between $75 and $125. Honey zircon costs $50 to $200 per carat.
Colorless zircon was used as a substitute to diamond before synthetics came along. Today, it is valued at between $35 and $50.
Green zircon is the rarest and most expensive. You can get a carat for $250 to $300.
On the Mohs hardness scale, zircon measures between 6 and 7.5. It is brittle, with its faceted edges tending to chip.
When exposed to chemicals, zircon is unreactive and it retains its properties. When exposed to radiation, its crystal structure breaks down.
How to care for zircon
Zircon is known for its tendency to abrade. This means that it can wear off when exposed to friction. Therefore, you should not wear your zircon birthstone jewelry when engaging in rigorous activities like sports or gardening.
For cleaning, a small soft brush and some soapy water ought to work. Make sure to rinse it out well and let it dry.
Constant cleaning of your jewelry will help the stones to retain their beauty and appeal. Avoid using any ultrasonic cleaners because the vibrations might alter the composition of the stone. You should also avoid any steam cleaning methods.
December birthstone: Turquoise
Turquoise is among the oldest gemstones. Its use can be dated back to ancient Egypt, where it was used to decorate king Tut’s tomb. It was also used in amulets by native Americans up to 2000 years ago and also by ancient Persians. Some of the oldest turquoise mines are in the Sinai peninsula of Egypt, dating back to 3000BCE.
In the 13th century, turquoise gems were exported from Turkey to Europe. The French used to refer to them as “Pierre torques” which translates to “Turkish stones” and that is how this December birthstone got its name.
Almost all of the world's turquoise supply is from the United States. The largest provider is in Arizona, which also produces the best quality stones.
Other states that produce this blue birthstone are California, Nevada, Colorado, and New Mexico. Other countries that produce this stone are India, Australia, Turkestan, Northern Chile, and Afghanistan.
Turquoise has the same shade of blue as a robin’s egg. It is an opaque gem, with its colors ranging from light blue to blue-green. In its highest quality, it has an intense blue hue. Because of its opaqueness, it is usually cut into cabochon shapes.
Sometimes, there may also be networks of other materials in the gem. These materials either isolate themselves or form a network of veins that sometimes form beautiful patterns, called spider webs.
Symbolism and meaning
There are many myths and traditions around the use of turquoise, both ancient and modern. Apache Indians believed that attaching turquoise to your hunting bow would improve its accuracy. Ancient Persians believed that wearing turquoise jewelry around their necks warned them of danger by changing color. They also put it on their horses and weapons to guarantee protection and safety.
The blue of the turquoise also made a lot of ancient societies to treat it as symbolic of the heavens. This is why there are many palaces all over the world that have turquoise used on the ceilings, such as the Taj Mahal.
Today, some people believe that turquoise is a symbol of good luck, bringing windfalls of cash and protection to the wearer.
The value of turquoise is measured based on its color, its clarity, the shape to which it is cut, and the carat weight.
In the market, turquoise is available in many shapes and sizes. For smaller pieces of jewelry, you will need around 4 to 8 carats. Good quality stone costs between $30 and $40 per carat.
When measured against the Mohs hardness scale, turquoise falls between 5 and 6. This means it is a fragile gemstone. This explains why it is sometimes treated with epoxy or acrylic resin to make it stronger and enhance its appearance.
How to care for turquoise
Its low score on the Mohs hardness scale means it is fragile and should be treated with care. Avoid wearing your turquoise pieces when cleaning or doing any rigorous activities.
⚠️To clean your pieces, use a soft cloth and warm soapy water. Jewelry cleaners and any vibration cleaning methods will damage the stone. When storing your turquoise birthstone jewelry, separate it from the rest of your jewelry to prevent it from scratching.
A quick summary of December birthstones
December birthstones differ in the origins and beliefs around them, their rarity, their treatment processes, and their values. However, they also have a number of things in common:
- They all have blue color tones, which is the December birthstone color.💙
- In addition to being birthstones, they are also anniversary gemstones. Turquoise is for the 11th, zircon is for the 22nd, and tanzanite is for the 24th
December birthstones and the Christmas celebration
With the December festive season, December birthstones become more than just gems for the month.
One of the main reasons why they become really popular during this time is their blue hues, which look really beautiful in winter.⛄ Even when they aren’t being worn as birthstones, a lot of people buy them just for this reason.
Besides being perfect birthday gifts, you can also offer jewelry with December birthstones as Christmas presents because they already fit the aesthetic. All you have to do is choose the jewelry to match that special someone’s style.
These beautiful blue gems can also be used as Christmas decorations. You can order custom tanzanite, turquoise, and zircon Christmas tree ornaments and have a wonderful time hanging them up with your loved ones.
December birthstone jewelry gift and styling ideas
There are many ways to wear these stones. The main thing to keep in mind is to let the stone’s aesthetic shine through:
- They can be cut or polished to make beads. These can be used to make December birthstone necklaces. If you want, you can add some charms and make it a Pandora December birthstone charm bracelet.
- 😘Winter proposals are magically beautiful and if you are planning one, what better way to pop the big question than with a December birthstone engagement ring?
- The blue tones of December birthstones make them versatile enough to use in any occasion. You can wear your December birthstone earrings to work or to a party and they’ll look just as good.
So there you have it. With this guide, you should be able to select the perfect December birthstone gift for your needs, from December birthstone rings to necklaces, earrings, and every jewelry piece in between. Also, don't miss this birthstone guide, you can learn birthstones for other months.