12.06.2006

Lucky December Birthstones

Lucky December Birthstones
Why are there so many December birthstones? They must have gotten to the 12th month of the year and had so many gemstones left over that they gave them all to December. Who knows why or when they were distributed to December, but whoever was born during this festive month has plenty of gemstones to choose from. First we'll start with the traditional birthstones, Lapis Lazuli and Zircon.

Lapis Lazuli
A semiprecious gemstone. Lapiz Lazuli is a deep blue gemstone mineral which is often speckled with sparkling pyrite inclusions. Lapis Lazuli has been used for jewelry for thousands of years with many ancient cultures treasuring it. The main component in Lapis Lazuli is Lazurite and accounts for the intense blue color. The best quality lapis lazuli is an intense dark blue with minor deposits of white calcite and brassy yellow pyrite. It is extremely rare and commonly found in forms of crystalline limestone. Ancient references to "sapphire," the "sapphirus" of the Romans, usually refers to lapis lazuli. Its modern name originates in the Persian word "lazhuward," meaning "blue," and the Arabis word "lazaward," meaining "heavan" or "sky." Currently, much of the Lapis Lazuli on the market is mined in Afghanistan.

Zircon
A semiprecious gemstone. Zircon is one of the few stones to resemble the diamond in fire and brilliancy is zircon. It's colorless stones have been intentionally and mistakenly substituted for the diamond. The natural color of zircon varies between colorless, yellow-golden, red, brown, and green. Unlike the Diamond, Zircon exhibits double refraction and bottom facets seen through the top of a cut stone will appear double, diamond doesn't share this property. Zircon is also significantly softer than diamond and cut stones will show wear on the edges of the facets. The name Zircon is from the Arabic "zargun," derived in turn from Persian zar, meaning "gold," and the Arabic "gun," meaning "color."

Now that you know and understand the traditional birthstones, you can begin to explore the modern birthstones of Tuquoise, Topaz and Tanzanite. What a set of three beautiful gemstones.

Turquoise
A semiprecious gemstone. Turquoise is an azure or greenish soft mineral that derives it's color from copper. Turquoise is very soft and porous, and it's high water content makes it vulnerable to destruction by drying, and absorbing impurities. Turquoise is often stabilized with a resin to preserve it's color, protect it from environmental pollutants and drying. Turquoise was one of the first gemstones to be mined and some turquoise beads found in Mesopotamia, (present day Iraq), date back to around 5000 BC. It varies in color from sky-blue to green, depending on the amount of iron and copper it contains. Turquoise from several sources was first transported through Turkey, probably accounting for its name, which is French for "Turkish." Turquoise is mined in Iran, Tibet, northern Africa, Australia, Siberia, England, Belgium, France, Poland, Ethiopia, Mexico, Chile, and China.

Topaz
A semiprecious gemstone. Topaz is a very hard and lovely mineral that has been known and valued both in ancient and modern times. Topaz is found in a wide range of colors, the sherry-yellow being particularly valuable and the pink topaz (natural pink topaz) being the most valuable and rare. The yellow topaz becomes pink on exposure to a moderate heat, and most pink topaz today is heat treated yellow topaz. Other colors of topaz include blue, which is sometime indistinguishable from aquamarine, brown topaz, and white (which has been mistaken for diamond.) Ancient legends associated topaz with several different 'sungods', dispelling of enchantments, and improving eyesight, as well as crediting it with the ability to change colors in the presence of poisons. Topaz is one of the sources of the island Zebirget in the Red Sea. This island has had a few previous names, one of which was Topazios. The word Topaz is also thought to derive from "tapaz", the Sanskrit name for "fire." Many authorities believe that the stone called topaz today was unknown to the ancients and that the name topazos referred to olivine (peridot), which is known to be found on the island of Topazios (Zebirget) as well.

Tanzanite
A semiprecious gemstone. Tanzanite is a gem variety of the mineral Zoisite and it comes from a small area in Tanzania. Nearly all tanzanite on the market has been heat treated to generate it's lovely blue violet color. When first mined, tanzanite is usually a muted green color. Tanzanite is similar in final color to iolite, though iolite is usually of weaker intensity and has less fire. The sapphire-blue variety of Zoisite, Tanzanite is the most valuable of it's kind. Other colors zoisite comes in are yellowish-green, green, white, green-brown or gray. Tanzanite is found in the veins of quartz and pegmatites. They are commonly mistaken for sapphires and they are often color treated to remove any browns to enhance its color. They may appear more violet in incandescent lights.

You thought we were done, didn't you. Well there is yet, another birthstones that comes from the Mystical December birthstones. Onyx is our final December birthstone.

Onyx

A semiprecious gemstone. Onyx is a variety of chalcedony or microcrystalline quartz with a hardness rating of 7. Very similar to agate, and treated agate is often sold as black onyx. Onyx may be brown, white, grey, or black.
Onyx is the striped, semiprecious variety of agate with white and black alternating bands. It's a rare stone that can be artificially reproduced by dying pale, layered agate. The name come from the Greek "onux", meaning "nail" or "claw", referring to the mineral's color. The name onyx is properly applied to the agate variety only. Other varieties include carnelian onyx (with white and red bands), and sardonyx (with white and brown bands.) Natural onyx comes from India and South America and is commonly used for cutting cameos and intaglios because its layers show a color contrast.

There you have it, the long list and decriptions of the December birthstones. You can find out more about other birthstones at www.kincaidesigns.com. We have an extensive birthstones chart, anniversary gift traditions chart, and much more information on gemstones and other jewelry components. While you're there, don't foget the shop online a the Handmade Jewelry Boutique. We have handmade jewelry, handcrafted glass ornaments, unique gifts and much more. Visit www.kincaidesigns.com for all your jewelry shopping and informational needs.

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