december birthstone

Tanzanite, Turquoise & Zircon: The Story Behind December’s Birthstones

We’ve been giving you the back stories all year on the birthstones for each month, and you may have noticed that as we get closer and closer to the end of the year, the later months get lucky with having more than one birthstone. And let’s just say that there’s definitely more than one December birthstone.

All we know is that the December babies are the luckiest because they get three birthstones. That’s right, three! It’s believed that birthstones were assigned to each month as early as the days of Aaron for his shield, which featured 12 different stones representing the 12 tribes of Israel. Somehow between then and 1912, a few months got some extra birthstones and December birthdays got to choose from turquoise and zircon. But then tanzanite was discovered in the 1960s and the authorities thought they’d make it the third December birthstone. Here’s the rest of the story behind tanzanite, turquoise and zircon.



With December being the last month of the year, it only makes sense that it would be paired with the latest gemstone to be discovered by humans. Can you guess where it was discovered? If you didn’t guess Tanzania, then you might want to brush up on your geography. This rich blue-violet stone found on the Eastern coast of Africa has a color that is highly coveted by many. It’s a unique color that is not often found in other stones, and it is often heat treated to achieve an extra level of vibrancy. It used to be considered a less expensive alternative to blue sapphire, but these days its color is appreciated just as much, especially when it’s found in a particularly rich shade.



December is a particularly interesting month because this month gets the new kid on the block (tanzanite), as well as the OG, the gemstone that has been adorned by humans since prehistory times, turquoise. The French named this December birthstone in the 1200s, and it simply means Turkish. While the French had to travel eastward to Turkey to find it, most Americans need only travel southwest to New Mexico and Arizona to find it in high supply. It’s color ranges from a light blue to bluish green and it has a wide range in opacity. No matter what variety you find, you can always tell when you’re looking at turquoise, it’s just so objectively iconic.



Zircon is found in several parts of Southeast Asia, from Thailand to Cambodia, to Vietnam. The name comes from Arabic, meaning gold stone. That said, it comes in every color in the spectrum and it’s most highly valued in red. Zircon is also found in a clear variety and has been used in the past as a replacement for diamond. Zircon is said to protect travelers from injury and illness, it stimulates the appetite, prevents nightmares and relieves pain.
Some people mourn the fact that their birthstone isn’t found in their favorite color, but if you’re a December baby, you kind of get everything.

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