Turquoise is the accepted birthstone for December and is the accepted
anniversary gemstone for the 11th year of marriage.
Colors in turquoise range from sky blue (most desirable color) to blue green
and apple green.
The name means "Turkish stone" because the trade route that brought it to
Europe used to come via Turkey. The best qualities are found in northeast
Iran (Persian turquoise). However, the United States southwest is now the
world leader in production.
The deposits in Sinai were already worked out by 4,000 BC. At that time the
stone was used for jewelry, amulets and in the preparation of cosmetics.
During the 16th century turquoise was used as currency by the Southwest
Indians. They believed the gemstone could bring spoils to the warrior,
animals to the hunter, and happiness and good fortune to all.
Although large quantities of beautiful turquoise which have not been color
enhanced are available, today's turquoise is commonly stabilized with
plastic to improve its color and durability. Chalky varieties of turquoise
are normally impregnated with oil or wax to enhance color. This color change
may not be permanent.
Care should be taken to protect it from scratches, sharp blows, hot water,
and household chemicals. Do not use a home ultrasonic machine.
Zircon though not mass marketed due to limited availibility is sometimes
selected by those who prefer faceted stones. Zircon is a natural stone - not
to be confused with Cubic Zirconia which is manmade. Colorless zircone is
used to imitate diamonds but also comes in: blue, yellow, orange, red, brown
and green. It has a hardness of 7.5.