Zircon

Zircon, the starlight blue variety, is a birthstone of December.  A translucent gemstone, it evokes images of the snow and ice found in the winter months, making it the perfect accessory for a cold day in December.

silver bracelet

Fine silver bracelet featuring colorful cubic zirconia, opal, pearl, black onyx and various gemstone beads.

This stone, usually found in warm colors ranging from amber to sorrel, is named from the Arabic words zar and gun, meaning gold and color.  However, due to color treatments, it can be found in all colors of the rainbow, with red being the most prized.  

In fact, before the 1920’s, blue zircon was unheard of.

During the early 20th Century, experimentation led to the discovery that heating the stone gives it a different color.  

Dubbed “starlight blue,” it was an immediate hit, despite the unnatural occurrences that led to the color.  Consumers worldwide merely reveled in the beauty of these “new” zircon gemstones.

Before their new blue hues, zircons were popular for their other qualities.  In the 11th Century, they were believed to protect travelers from disease, injury and insomnia while guaranteeing a warm welcome at the end of a journey.

They were further believed to guard against the Black Death during the 14th Century.  Even today, many maintain that they have healing properties, especially for those suffering from insomnia.

This is a group of cubic zirconia ranging in size, shape and color.

This is a group of cubic zirconia ranging in size, shape and color.

I love these little cubic zirconia hearts!

I love these little cubic zirconia hearts!

With zircon being such a beautiful stone, it is commonly used as “fake” diamonds.  

Both stones share an inner brilliance such that it is incredibly difficult to tell clear zircon from diamonds.  

However, very unlike the latter, zircon is fragile.  With the heat treatments and its inherent structure, it is actually quite delicate and should be cared for accordingly.

A popular subset of zircon is cubic zirconia.  They differ only in that cubic zirconia does not contain silicate (for the chemists out there, zircon is ZrSiO4 while cubic zirconia is ZrO2).  

I prefer to work with this gemstone instead of zircon.  Zircon as a quality gemstone is rare and expensive while cubic zirconia is cheaper and easier to obtain. Furthermore, they work well with fine silver .

Unlike zircon, cubic zirconia does not crack or degrade in heat because it is much more durable.  This also makes it ideal for everyday wear.  

While some might look down on cubic zirconia because it is manufactured and inexpensive, I find that its price doesn’t change its beauty, clarity and brilliance.

The starlight blue of this cubic zirconia
The starlight blue of this cubic zirconia is the epitome of the December birthstone.

Turquoise

Turquoise, the famous blue-green stone, is stunning.  It can be raw, mixed with iron and rock or it can be polished to a high sheen with a translucent gleam. Either way, December birthdays are fortunate to have claim to one of the oldest stones in existence.

heart<br />

If cold December gave you birth,
The month of snow and ice and mirth,
Place on your hand a turquoise blue;
Success will bless whate’er you do.

blue agate<br />

This is a unique chunk of blue agate with turquoise beads ascending vertically along the center. Notice the beautiful details of the side of the stone.

Turquoise, a word derived from the French words Pierre tourquesor Turkish stones, has been popular since ancient times.

Said to bring wealth and prosperity to its wearer, it comes in a variety of hues from robin-egg’s blue to apple green to various browns.

Its history is rich throughout numerous cultures.  It has adorned ancient Egyptians, Aztecs, the rulers of Chinese emperors and others as it gained prominence.

It was brought to Western markets through the Silk Road as merchants traveled from Turkish bazaars.  Since that time, turquoise has been in demand for its beautiful coloring and metaphysical properties.

earrings

Fine silver and turquoise make a stunning pair. The faceted turquoise beads have veins of iron details.

bead earrings

These earrings, have faceted turquoise beads. The color, more blue than green, is bright and beautiful.

The Aztecs, especially, used turquoise as amulets. They decorated ceremonial props, weapons and shields in mosaic patterns containing turquoise.

Native Americans used turquoise to make gorgeous pieces of jewelry. The blue in turquoise symbolized the Heavens, and green symbolized the Earth.

Iranians held a similar view of turquoise, adorning their thrones, daggers, sword hilts, horse trappings, bowls, cups, and ornamental objects with turquoise. They even made it their national stone.

While western cultures predominately view turquoise as a charm to bring good fortune, in other cultures, it is a love charm. If one were to give a gift of turquoise, it is seen as a pledge of affection and loyalty. In Russia, they are popular stones for wedding rings.

Personally, I can’t get enough of turquoise. Whether they are pure, carved, polished to a shine; or mixed, riddled with copper or iron matrices, I love them all. They make beautiful pieces of jewelry, and I love to match them with other stones for necklaces or earrings.

Because it is such a popular stone, many have tried to reproduce cheaper versions with either resin or dyed stones. Howlite and magnesite, when dyed blue, can easily be mistaken for turquoise.

As a piece of advice, if the turquoise you are purchasing comes at a price too good to be true, it probably is not real turquoise.

necklace

This rainbow casilica necklace is an example of a piece with both howlite and turquoise. The howlite beads are cylindrical while the turquoise beads are flat ovals. The detailing above the pendant is also turquoise.

necklace<br />

This fine silver and turquoise necklace is
reminiscent of Aztec styles with geometric
patterns on the fine silver and a double
strand of turquoise beads with a center
cabochon.

Wishing you a sparkling December,

Nadine_signiture