December’s 3 Birthstones Dazzle: Tanzanite, Turquoise & Zircon

Were you lucky enough to be born in December? According to the American Gem Society, this month is the only one that has three official birthstones – tanzanite, turquoise and zircon. Whether you collect just one or combine all three stunning gemstones in your jewelry wardrobe, those of you born under the zodiac signs of Sagittarius or Capricorn have plenty to celebrate. Here are the ABCs on T, T and Zs:

Stephen Webster Killamanjaro Tanzanite and Diamond Bracelet
Stephen Webster “Killamanjaro”
Tanzanite and Diamond Bracelet
Photo Courtesy the Tanzanite Foundation

Tanzanite — A relatively young gemstone, Tanzanite was discovered in the 1960s in Tanzania, in Southeast Africa. Tanzanite is prized for its rich violet-blue color and it is sometimes heat-treated to achieve this hue. Colors range from blue to purple, but tanzanites that are medium dark in tone, vivid in saturation, and slightly violet-blue command the highest prices. Because tanzanite tends to be less expensive than sapphire, it is often purchased as an alternative to the precious gem. However, it has increased in popularity and now is valued more for its own beauty and brilliance than as a sapphire substitute.

Turquoise and Sterling Earrings
Turquoise and Sterling Earrings $39.90
Photo Courtesy of

Turquoise — On the other hand, turquoise is one of the oldest known gemstones, originating in the 13th century. The word “turquoise” derives from the French word for “Turkish” and dates to the 16th century when it was first brought from Turkey to Europe. Turquoise varies in color from greenish-blue to robin’s egg blue to sky-blue shades and its transparency ranges from translucent to opaque. Turquoise is frequently mixed with sterling silver in styles that feature beads, cabochons, carvings, and inlays. Over the past five or six decades, turquoise jewelry’s popularity has ebbed and flowed with fashion’s trends. Today, turquoise is not only a perennial favorite in the American Southwest, where it is found in abundance, it is also a staple of jewelry and accessories designers worldwide.

Swarovski Crystal and Aquamarine Blue Zircon Ring
Swarovski Crystal and Aquamarine Blue Zircon Ring
Photo Courtesy of

Zircon — Derived from the Arabic words “zar” and “gun,” meaning gold and color, zircon is found in a wide range of colors beyond gold, including blue, yellow, orange, brown, green, colorless, and red (the most prized). Colorless zircon is sometimes used in making imitation diamonds, but it should not be confused with cubic zirconia (CZ). Legend has it that zircon can relieve pain, whet the appetite, protect travelers from injury, and prevent nightmares guaranteeing a deep, tranquil sleep. The major sources of zircon are the Chanthaburi area of Thailand, the Palin area of Cambodia, and the southern part of Vietnam.

Tell us which of these December birthstones you collect…and consider branching out to all three in the year to come. Happy Birthday from OBJ!

Wondering what is the best way to clean these gorgeous December birthstones?  Here is some jewelry cleaning advice for turquoise, tanzanite and zircon.


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