Turquoise - The Gemstone for December Birthstone Jewelry
The gem used in December birthstone jewelry is the turquoise, a blue green stone which is a phosphate of copper and aluminum. It's an uncommon stone that's been used in decorative pieces and jewelry for thousands of years and was worn from around 6000 B.C. by the Egyptians. It was a valued gem worn by the kings of the Aztecs and the Pharaohs. It was also used in beautiful decorative and ornamental work by the Native Americans and Persians. The majority of specimens found are extremely small, frequently so small that they can only be seen using a microscope. High quality turquoise is found in Afghanistan, Australia, Iran, Arizona and New Mexico in the US.
The name turquoise is believed to derive from the French word
meaning Turkey as it was mistakenly assumed that the gemstones came
from that country as they were sold in the bazaars to merchants from
Venice. In fact they almost certainly came from the The Sinai
Peninsular Persia (now Iran). It may possibly also have arisen from the
French word pierre turquin which means blue stone. It's frequently
found in deposits of copper generally in arid, dessert conditions.
Before turquoise was found in the US the finest quality gems, with a deep blue color, came from Persia and ‘Persian Turquoise’ is still used these days to designate the finest quality gemstones. In the later years of the nineteenth century turquoise was discovered in the US with deposits that rivaled the quality of the gemstones from Persia. Today the USA is the major producer of this gorgeous precious stone.
How the Aztecs Used Turquoise
Turquoise was used extensively by the Aztecs, often with gold and many other minerals such as jade, quartz, jet and malachite as well as shells and corals. They used it in mosaics, masks, shields and knives. Some fabulous examples of mosaics that survived destruction by the Spanish are exhibited at the British Museum.
How the Native Americans Used Turquoise
The Apache, Pueblo and Navajo tribes used turquoise as a talisman often
believing it could influence an archer's aim. The earliest turquoise
jewelry fashioned by Native Americans included mosaics, beads and
carvings and it was only from from the end of the 1800's was the
typical silver jewelry made. Navajo artisans started to make this style
of jewelry from silver coins for trade with white men.
This is a magnificent example of the brilliance of gold. The blue topaz earring stone measures 0.17 inches or 4.2mm x 0.24 inches or 6mm, the pendant stone measures 0.17 inches or 4.2mm x 0.24 inches or 6mm and the ring stone measures 0.2 inches or 4.8mm x 0.27 inches or 6.8mm. These elegant sets are available in 10 karat and 14 karat yellow gold.
Looking After Turquoise Jewelry
Turquoise is quite soft and needs to be looked after carefully to avoid being scratched. It can lose it’s lustre if heated, or exposed to weak acids or sunlight so you need to be careful to take off any turquoise jewelry before using household chemicals or hot water.
December Birthstone Jewelry
Turquoise is the precious stone for December in the current birthstone jewelry system. In traditional schemes the birthstones are zircon and ruby. Jewelry set with turquoise would make a gorgeous present whether set in earrings, pendants, rings or charms.
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