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Turquoise, Blue zircon and Tanzanite: December Birthstone, History and Meaning



turquoise, blue zircon and tanzanite at Allum & Sidaway

These stunning, cool, crisp and icy blue stones represent the chilly winter month of December perfectly. A piece of turquoise, blue zircon or tanzanite jewellery would make a beautiful gift for a person born in the month of December.


Turquoise is also the gem used to mark an 11th Wedding Anniversary.



The French word for “Turkish”, is used to describe this semi-translucent to opaque, blue-to-green mineral, that has been prized as a gemstone and ornamental stone for thousands of years, owing to its unique hue. It is a hydrated phosphate of copper and aluminium, scoring 5 to 6 on the Mohs scale of hardness, giving it a durability rating of fair to good. It is rare and valuable in finer grades, and often has veins of matrix (the rock in which it formed) running through it.


Historically, prized and treasured the world over, turquoise has been linked to the life-giving elements of water and air, and is believed to bring protection to the wearer. Considered sacred by the native Americans, turquoise was used in healing rituals because they believed it created a powerful connection between heaven and earth. 

Ancient Persians also treasured this stone, believing that turquoise crystals reflected in the light of a new moon would bring luck and prosperity. Turquoise has been discovered in the ceremonial masks of the ancient Aztecs, and in ancient Egypt, was incorporated into protective amulets for prominent people such as Cleopatra and King Tut.  It was also widely used to adorn battle armour and weapons, symbolising protection from unwelcome forces. 


Ancient traders were known to have brought turquoise, by way of the Silk Road, from Turkey to Western Europe, where it became increasingly popular amongst the royals and the wealthiest in society. Notably, Napoleon I gave his bride Marie-Louise a beautiful turquoise tiara as a wedding gift.


Turquoise has been mined in Iran for over 1000 years and is the region well known in the gem trade, for producing the sought after “Persian blue”, “Robin’s egg blue” and “Sky blue” colours of these stones. China is currently the largest producer of turquoise in the world, specifically the Hubei Province in Central China. The United States has also been a historically important source of production, and although many mines have now closed, Nevada and Arizona are still producers, with the Kingman mine in Arizona known as a source for intense blue turquoise.


The name “Zircon” comes from the Persian word “Zargun”, which means gold-coloured. Zircon is the oldest mineral on Earth, a zirconium silicate that is commonly found, throughout the world, in igneous, metamorphic, and sedimentary rocks, as well as a constituent in most sands. It is a popular gemstone that has been used for nearly 2000 years, popular, in part, because it is available in a wide range of colours. Zircon is commonly recognised as the birthstone for the month of September, however blue zircon has been adopted as an alternative birthstone to represent a December birthday.


Natural zircons are typically yellow, red, or brown, but heating and irradiation processes are now used to produce colourless, blue and green stones. Blue is the most popular coloured stone, with about 80% of the zircons sold today being blue. Colourless Zircon has been used as a popular substitute for diamond, due to its high dispersion and refractive index, which give it a dazzling brilliance and shine that would rival any diamond. Although it is not as durable as diamond, zircon is a durable gem, scoring 7.5 on the Mohs scale of hardness, which makes it suitable for use in most types of jewellery.


Unfortunately, Zircon is often confused with cubic zirconia, because of its similar name, however cubic zirconia is a stone manufactured to imitate diamond, unlike zircon which is a beautiful naturally occurring stone. 


Blue Zircon is believed to hold cleansing powers and healing properties, which in turn dispel negative energies and bring happiness and a sense of peace.

The finest examples of Zircon stones have been found in Madagascar and Canada, but are also sourced from Sri Lanka, Ukraine, Australia and the United States.






Tanzanite is the name given to blue coloured specimens of the mineral zoisite, which is a sought-after gemstone, found only in northern Tanzania, near to the base of Mount Kilimanjaro. Undiscovered, in commercial quantities, until the 1960s, it was given the name Tanzanite by Tiffany and Company, who promoted it as “The most beautiful blue stone to be discovered in 2000 years”.  Its subsequent meteoric rise in popularity has seen it grow to become the second most popular blue stone, after sapphire. Given its relative rarity, the price of tanzanite is typically higher than that of other more available gemstones, and only a little less than sapphires. The stones themselves are around 585 million years old, and only a few are found in natural blue hues. These stones, ranging from light blue through to vivid blue, purplish blue and violet coloured, are simply breath-taking, with the darker richer hues being the most valuable. 

Tanzanite scores a 6.5 on the Mohs hardness scale, a score which is low enough for the gem to be vulnerable to scratching with constant wear, or in ring settings. The Smithsonian has an impressive collection of Tanzanite, consisting of one faceted stone of 122.7 carats and a rare cat’s eye tanzanite of 18.2 carats. Tiffany’s own probably the largest and most beautiful display of tanzanite in the world. 

Tanzanite’s relatively recent discovery means that not much history, legend or superstition surrounds the stone, however in Tanzania, blue beads are given to new Mothers in the belief that they bestow health, positive energy and protection on their new-born babies.


So, whether you are buying a beautiful gift for someone born in December, a special something to mark your 11th wedding anniversary, a gift for a new Mother, or simply treating yourself or a loved-one to a beautiful new piece of jewellery, you will be overwhelmed by the range of beautiful tanzanite, zircon and turquoise jewellery available at Allum and Sidaway.

We look forward to showing you our exquisite collections of stones set into earrings, rings and pendants to suit every taste and budget. Visit one of our stores or purchase from our impressive range online today.

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