December Birthstones; Turquiose & Zircon

If cold December gave you birth, The month of snow and ice and mirth
Place on your hand a turquoise blue; Success will bless whatever you do.

Turquoise is the modern birthstone for December and the traditional gift to commemorate the 5th and 11th years of marriage, with the alternate being zircon.

Since turquoise is the favored stone for the Zodiac sign of Sagittarius, it governs the calendar between November 22 and December 21. The heavenly blue-green color associated with turquoise is related to its chemical composition, water and copper content rendering the blue tone and iron governing the intensity of green. The hues inherent can range widely from the familiar green-blue to a light sky-blue.

While certain sources believe that the name turquoise derives from the Old French ‘pierre turquoise’ meaning Turkish stone, others, relate the name to ‘firouzeh’, the Persian word for the color turquoise. Ancient and yet always at the height of current fashion, turquoise was mined by early Egyptians as early as 6000 BC., the finest quality turquoise originating from Iran, followed by Australia, Afghanistan, Arizona and New Mexico.

For thousands of years, turquoise has been appreciated as a holy stone, talisman, and a good-luck-charm, the excavation of Egyptian tombs dates from approximately 3,000 B.C., the oldest living proof of man’s interest in turquoise, where the gemstone was found decorating artifacts that were buried with the dead. When the tomb of Queen Zer was unearthed in 1900, a turquoise and gold bracelet was found on her wrist, one of the oldest pieces of jewelry ever discovered!

Beliefs in the healing and spiritual significance of turquoise have survived in legends originating from other civilizations such as the ancient Persians, Aztecs, Incas, southwest American Indians, and Tibetans. Many Orientals continue to carry turquoise to ward off the evil eye, and some connect these gemstones with weather changes. In Germany, turquoise is considered as a love token whose color will remain intact as long as the affections last. An Eastern proverb relates that ‘a turquoise given by the hand of love carries good fortune and happiness’.

Hindu mystics in India believe that it is lucky to have a turquoise on a finger or around the wrist during a new moon, to gaze at the moon and then at the stone in order to achieve great wealth throughout the moon cycle.

The 17th century writer Van Helmont recorded in 1620 that persons wearing turquoise next to the skin may sustain a fall without injury, a thesis which has maintained its significance for centuries, given the fact that even today turquoise is believed to protect cyclists, mountain climbers and horse riders from falls.

Turquoise also has a sacred place in the religious rites of North American Indians and by the Tibetans, whose shamans include it in rituals and ceremonies. Turquoise is said to promote mental and spiritual clarity as well as enhancing wisdom, trust, kindness, and understanding.

The Arabs believe strongly in the powers of turquoise as an amulet, presumably it protects the wearer from poison, bites of reptiles, diseases of eyes and it warns of approaching illnesses by changing color. Turquoise is also recommended as medicine for diseases of the throat and heart due to its phosphoric acid contents, the effect of which is still recognized by homeopathy today.

Wherever in the world it is worn and loved, turquoise is believed to promote prosperity. Its bright and happy color is supposed to lend self-confidence to subdued personalities; it is popular as a token of friendship, and reputed to enhance faithfulness and reliable relationships…

December’s alternate birthstone zircon, is a naturally occurring gemstone, not to be confused with cubic zirconium, which is a synthetic substance with a completely different chemical composition. Zircon is a mineral belonging to the group of ‘nesosilicates’, the natural color varying between colorless, yellow-golden, red, brown, blue and green. Colorless specimens of zircon showing gem quality are a popular substitute for diamonds and are known by the name ‘Matura diamond’.

With its variety of names, zircon has many talismanic and medicinal powers associated with it. During the Middle Ages, the zircon was believed to make the wearer welcome wherever he went and it was used as a talisman against fever, dropsy, and food poisoning. In the American Museum of Natural History in New York City lies the largest zircon ever known, which is a greenish blue specimen weighing more than 208cts.

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