Alari Design

Fine Jewelry and Gemstone Showcase

December Birthstones - Turquoise, Zircon, Tanzanite

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The name turquoise, from the French expression Pierre tourques or Turkish stone, originated in the thirteenth century and describes one of the oldest known gemstones. Turquoise varies in color from greenish blue, through robin's egg-blue, to sky blue shades and its transparency ranges from translucent  to opaque. Turquoise is plentiful and is available in a wide range of sizes. It is most often used for beads, cabochons, carvings, and inlays. Although its popularity fluctuates in fashion, it is a perennial favorite in the American Southwest.

Geological Properties

Turquoise has a waxy luster. It is typically blue-green with brown/black veins of matrix running through it. Some turquoise is dyed to give it an evenly vivid color. Most turquoise is stabilized to improve overall strength and polish. 

It is mined across the globe, and each location yields specific stone colors and characteristics ranging from the bright sky blue-matrix free Sleeping Beauty turquoise from Arizona to the rough, organic yellow colors and heavy matrix mined from Africa. 

Chalk turquoise is a form of natural turquoise that has a white chalk-like consistency. It is dyed pleasing colors and stabilized to produce beads that are hard enough to use in jewelry.

Mineral Information:  Copper containing basic aluminum phosphate

Chemical Composition:  CuAl6(I(OH)2/PO4)4.4H2O

Color:  Sky blue, blue-green, green

Hardness:  5-6

Specific Gravity:  2.60-2.80

Refractive Index:  1.61-1.65

Proper Care

Turquoise is a hydrous compound of copper and aluminum, so it loses color when it loses water. To keep your turquoise from becoming dehydrated, it is a good idea to water it, as you would your houseplants, with pure saline water periodically to revive or maintain color. (If salty ocean mist makes the statue of liberty, which is made of solid copper, turn green, it will do the same for your turquoise.) 

Turquoise is porous, so chemicals can damage it. Use only pure water and a soft cloth to wipe it clean, and you can clean your turquoise frequently without causing damage. The natural oil of your skin is good for turquoise, and it will naturally polish it when you wear it. If it is set in silver, wearing if often will also keep the silver from tarnishing. Silver polish will damage the surface of turquoise. 

Don't store turquoise with harder gemstones or other materials that might rub against it and cause damage. Turquoise can fade in sunlight, excessive sweat, chlorine bleach and dishwater. 


Derived from the Arabic words zar and gun, meaning gold and color, zircon is found in a wide range of colors such as: blue, yellow, orange, brown, green, colorless, and red (the most prized color). For many years colorless zircon was used to imitate diamonds.  Folk wisdom grants zircon the power to relieve pain, whet the appetite, protect travelers from disease and injury, to ensure a warm welcome, and to prevent nightmares guaranteeing a deep, tranquil sleep.  Major sources of zircon are the Chanthaburi area of Thailand, the Palin area of Cambodia, and the southern part of Vietnam.


Discovered in the late 1960s in Tanzania, and found exclusively in this tiny area of the world, tanzanite exhibits a rich violet-blue color for which the gemstone is treasured; often it is heat-treated to achieve this color.  Colors range from blue to purple, and tanzanites that are medium dark in tone, vivid in saturation, and slightly violet blue command premium prices.  As tanzanite can be less expensive than sapphire, it often was purchased as an alternative.  However, it has increased in popularity and now is valued more for its own beauty and brilliance than as a sapphire substitute.

Metaphysical/Healing Properties

Tanzanite is commonly believed to facilitate a higher consciousness and stimulate intuition and perception. Some believe that it aids in detoxifying the body and improving vitality. It is said to be a good stone to wear or have near in situations where you need a calming and soothing presence. Although, because of the high vibration rate of the stone, some believe the stone can be a stimulant to the throat and head and preserve youthfulness. 

Another popular belief is that because it takes intense heat to bring forth this stone's full potential, it also has the ability to bring forth the wearers' full potential and help them get in touch with the alternate side of their personality.

Geological Properties and Scientific Description

Mineral Information:  Zoisite

Chemical Composition:  Ca2Al3(O/OH/SiO4/Si2O7)

Color:  Purple-blue

Hardness:  6-1/2 - 7

Specific Gravity:  3.35

Refractive Index:  1.691-1.700

Proper Care

The beautiful violet tones of tanzanite are formed by a traditional heating process, so this gem should not be exposed to sudden temperature changes of either extreme heat or cold. However, the color is not affected by strong light. Ultrasonic cleaners, steam cleaners, and boiling may damage the stone or affect the color and should never be used. Instead, use warm soapy water, allow to air dry and polish with an untreated cloth. Avoid using hydrochloric or hydrofluoric acids. 

Although tanzanite is a hard stone (Mohs hardness 6-1/2 to 7) it should still be handled like the rare gem that it is. If you struggle to avoid bumping or scraping your jewelry throughout the day, consider earrings as a safe option for displaying this gem. Avoid laying your tanzanite jewelry face down on hard surfaces after you take it off.

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