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If your birthday falls in December, lucky you! -- you have three beautiful, blue birthstones to choose from: Turquoise, Tanzanite, and Blue Zircon. These gemstones range from the oldest on Earth, to one of the most recently discovered, to one of the first mined and used in jewelry. All three are relatively inexpensive, but their beauty rivals even precious gemstones. Colourless zircon is a convincing replacement for diamond, tanzanite often substitutes sapphire, and turquoise is unmatched in its hue of robin’s egg blue. ( Source: americangemsociety.org )
The word “turquoise” dates back to the 13th century, drawing from the French expression pierre tourques, which referenced the “Turkish stone” brought to Europe from Turkey. Ancient Persia (now Iran) was the traditional source for sky blue turquoise gemstones. This colour is often called “Persian blue” today, regardless of its origin. The Sinai Peninsula in Egypt was also an important historical source of turquoise gems. However, the U.S. is now the world’s largest turquoise supplier. Nevada, New Mexico, California, and Colorado have produced turquoise, but Arizona leads in production by value, as well as quality. The stone’s popularity here makes it a staple in Native American jewelry.
Turquoise is found in arid regions where rainwater dissolves copper in the soil, forming colourful nodular deposits when it combines with aluminum and phosphorus. Copper contributes blue hues, while iron and chrome add a hint of green. It is a softer stone that is used for carvings as well as in jewellery. Because of its softness, turquoise should never be cleaned with steam or in an ultrasonic cleaner. Its colour can be compromised by solvents and cleaners – even hand creams and oils in our skin – so care should be taken to remove your turquoise when working or washing your hands.
Tanzanite is the exquisite blue-purple variety of the mineral zoisite that is only found in one part of the world – Tanzania. In 1967, Maasai herders found blue crystals in the Merelani Hills near Arusha while tending livestock. Tiffany & Co. named the gemstone “tanzanite” to highlight its exclusive geographic origin and introduced it with a promotional campaign in 1968. Tanzanite is still only found on a few square miles of land, near majestic Mount Kilimanjaro.
Tanzanite is a bit more delicate than many other gemstones should never be cleaned with an ultrasonic or steam machine or brought into contact with any type of acids or cleaners. Tanzanite can be easily cleaned with plain soap and warm water using a soft brush. You should also avoid exposing your stone to sudden changes of temperature, including hot tubs and very cold water.
Zircon commonly occurs as brownish red, which can be popular for its earth tones. However, most gem-quality stones are heat treated until colorless, gold or blue (the most popular color). Zircon, the oldest mineral on Earth, contains important clues about the formation of our planet. Zircon from Australia dates back 4.4 billion years.