Thursday, December 1, 2011

Turquoise, Zircon & Blue Topaz: December's Birthstones

December is another month where the traditional and modern birthstones differ. Basically, the December birthstones are all blue -- turquoise, zircon and blue topaz. 

Turquoise is one of the oldest jewelry gemstones, with examples having been found in the tomb of Queen Zer, an Egyptian queen, who died thousands of years ago. The name turquoise is derived from a French word meaning Turkish stone. The Turks, however, were just the middleman in the merchant trade for beautiful blue stones from Persia. The Persian turquoise is superbly clear, generally devoid of the matrix normally seen in turquoise from other places. In fact, today the highest grade of turquoise is referred to as Persian turquoise, regardless of where it comes from.
Different varieties of turquoise showing colors and matrix types. (Courtesy of Durango Silver Co.
There are many varieties of turquoise, with each mine around the world having distinctive characteristics. This is a chart showing many varieties from American turquoise mines.

The Victorians used Persian turquoise in many of their jewelry, set in both silver and gold (or gold-filled) settings.
This Victorian barpin is set with two Persian turquoise stones ($95.00)
American Southwestern jewelry has included turquoise for over a century. Both the Native American and Mexican silversmiths have made items with turquoise and continue to do so today.
This is a large Native American brooch/pendant with a concentric cluster design known as petit-point. ($495.00)
This piece is known as a row bracelet and was done in designs that incorporated from one to five or more rows of round or square turquoise cabochons ($225.00)
Beautiful row bracelet with delicate needlepoint turquoise stones. ($295.00)
Another Native American silver & turquoise bracelet with feathers, leaves and vines in the motif ($225.00)
Petit-point earrings ($165.00)
We have a large variety of Southwestern silver & turquoise rings (from $45.00 each)
Gorgeous necklace & bracelet set with greenish-blue turquoise stones. Early 1900s and probably from the Mid-East ($395.00 set)
Zircon is a wonderful blue gemstone that is not seen a lot today. The blue in the zircon is generally produced by heat-treating clear stones. Blue topaz has somewhat replaced it as the alternate December birthstone. Blue topaz is also the result of heat-treatment of clear topaz stones, but it occurs both naturally and artificially. Either stone is beautiful and create wonderful pieces of jewelry.

Huge light blue topaz solitaire cocktail ring in a very modern design. ($165.00) 
Lovely heart-shaped blue topaz stone set in yellow gold with diamond accents. This comes in a necklace and earring set ($295.00 set)
Ring with blue topaz stone set in yellow gold with diamond accents  ($295.00)

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