Birthstones have existed across cultures over the ages. Often, these reflect aspects of society, such as religion or custom. Modern times show these themes, too, as groups have updated these stones to reflect current tastes, thoughts, and trends. Join us as we examine the nature of December birthstones.
If cold December gave you birth
The month of snow and ice and mirth
Place on your hand a turquoise blue;
Success will bless whate’er you do.
-Traditional Birthstone Poem
Modern December Birthstones
December babies are super lucky! Of all the months of the year, only a few feature three separate birthstones. December birthstones are turquoise, blue zircon, and tanzanite. Because this is a cold winter month, it should be no surprise that all three of these gemstones exhibit various tones and hues of blue.
Initially, turquoise and lapis lazuli were the birthstones for December. Both show blue hues that reflect winter. However, this list would evolve over time.
By the early 1950s, blue zircon replaces lapis lazuli due to growing customer interest. By 2002, tanzanite would also come to join turquoise and blue zircon as an official December birthstone.
One of the world’s most ancient gems, turquoise has been around for more than 3000 years ago. The name turquoise originates from the French expression pierre tourques, or “Turkish stone.” The name reflects the fact that the gemstone came from modern-day Turkey. This gemstone displays a beautiful blue to green color, sometimes featuring a matrix of its host rock. The national gem of Tibet, turquoise has long been considered a stone that guarantees strength, prosperity, and safeguards from evil. Also, there are many varieties of turquoise, and each has distinct characteristics.
- Mojave Turquoise: We cherish this stone for its vibrant variety of colors with a bronze metal matrix.
- Persian Turquoise: This gem is known for its brilliant blues, flecked with a striking mottling pattern.
- Sleeping Beauty Turquoise: No longer actively mined, it’s famous for its cheerful robin’s egg blue color.
- Kingman turquoise: Valued for its gentle sky-blue color and light matrix, it’s seen as the primary successor to Sleeping Beauty turquoise.
Blue zircon is a brilliant blue gemstone with a higher refractive index compared to any other blue gemstone. Zircon’s name is either derived from the Arabic word zarkun, meaning “red,” or a combination of the ancient Persian phrase zar, meaning “gold” and gun, meaning “color.” Despite this name, zircon occurs in a myriad of colors. This beautiful gemstone is famous for its outstanding brilliance, strong dispersion, or fire, the tendency to split white light into a spectrum of colors.
A relatively new gemstone, tanzanite is the blue to violet variety of zoisite. This rare gemstone comes from only one place, the Merelani Foothills of Tanzania. Known for displaying a transition of color from blue to violet, with flashes of red, tanzanite exhibits pleochroism, meaning that the hue of the gemstone shifts as you change its position. Also, many think this gemstone boosts the immune system, communication skills, and sharpen the mind. There are several varieties of tanzanite with distinct characteristics.
- Green Tanzanite: Many cherish this gem for its green base color, with red-violet and blue undertones.
- Peacock Tanzanite: This gem displays a transition between cheerful green and bright blue hues, mimicking the shimmer of the male Indian peafowl.
Historical December Birthstone
There are two birthstones historical December birthstones. These are bloodstone and ruby.
Bloodstone is the lesser-known of the two. A variety of jasper, it has a green body color with red flecks, derived from hematite. Bloodstone’s name comes from its red spots, as many think they resemble blood drops. Another name for bloodstone is heliotrope.
The second historical birthstone, ruby, needs little introduction. One of the traditional precious stones, ruby, has long been popular as a gem. While ruby was the conventional December birthstone, it is currently the modern birthstone for July. A variety of corundum, ruby, and sapphire are from the same family. In the United States, there is a distinction between pink sapphire and ruby. Elsewhere in the world, however, they can be both be considered rubies.
December Birthstone Quick Facts
- Turquoise, blue zircon, and tanzanite are the modern U.S. birthstones.
- The United Kingdom only recognizes turquoise and tanzanite as birthstones.
- Sagittarius (11/22-12/21) utilizes topaz as their stone.
- Capricorn (12/22-1/21) uses ruby as a birthstone.
- Bloodstone and ruby are historical December birthstones.
Many think birthstones bestow luck on the wearer and they continue to be an excellent gift for lovers of jewelry.
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Whether you prefer traditional or modern sensibilities, birthstones are a unique way to tell a story about yourself. Which would you choose?