December’s Blue Birthstones: Topaz, Tanzanite, Turquoise, and Zircon

If you have checked out a birthstone chart, you know that December has more birthstones and alternatives than any other month.  You would think that an almost-Christmas baby would have a green or red birthstone.  However the color for the month is really blue!

The primary stones people think of for December are the Blue Topaz (most found in stores) and Blue Zircon (which is almost as hard as a diamond, more rare, and usually requires special order).  Blue Zircon was the original birthstone for December and is said to go back to Biblical time.  In 1912, Blue Topaz became more popular as the suggested in the National Association of Jewelers official birthstone chart.  Although topaz comes in many colors, for December is the "shades of blue" as the other colors may be alternatives for other months.

Turquoise is noted as the birthstone by some gem authorities and it is a valid alternative on the charts.  It is also the oldest known blue stone to be mined (estimated at around 3000 B.C. in Egypt) – so it has been around as an alternative long before the others.  Some people will substitute Lapis Lazuli, which is a darker stone, for Turquoise.  Turquoise comes in many shades of the blue named for the stone with various webbing and has recently been dyed to make green, purple, and orange variations.    

Tanzanite was discovered in 1967 and first introduced by Tiffany’s.  It was added as an alternative December birthstone on the official charts in 2002 by American Gem Trade Association (AGTA).  It is a rare stone that currently comes only from Tanzania.  It is periwinkle blue (which is more of a lavender color) thus it was added to the blue stones.  Really high-quality Tanzanite may appear more bluish, such as the trade names Bondi-blue or Kutamani.  A few pieces of it have also been found in shades of green.  Be aware that Tanzanite simulants are available so be sure you are not paying the price for a true stone and getting an imitation.  Some people consider Iolite to be a darker version of Tanzanite or a companion color for it.  Iolite is a dark purplish-blue and therefore does look good mixed with other blue or purple stones.  If you are a December baby and like Iolite, go for it as your personal preferred stone rather than a true birthstone.

Please note that although Aquamarine and Sapphire are blue stones, the lighter is the primary birthstone for March and the darker is for September.  Neither are alternatives for December.

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