Choosing Your December Birthstone

For those with a December birthday, a birthstone is always a perfect and safe choice for a gift, specially if one is left clueless as to what the celebrator would want or need for a present. Birthstones are actually precious and semi-precious stones which have been associated with birth dates for centuries. They come in varying colors, textures, sizes and shapes.

Different cultures assign specific gemstones for each month based on the zodiac until there came a time when a specific gemstone was assigned for each of the month. Different cultures have different sets of twelve semi-precious and precious stones. Although the choice of stones to represent each month differ from culture to culture, one thing is certain- wearing birthstones effectively bring good luck and health. Some even believe that these stones have "powers".

Birthstones, as a tradition, is deeply embedded in modern culture and birthstone jewelry is widely gaining popularity nowadays. However, here in the United States, there is not a single gemstone for a particular month. In fact, there are numerous birthstones for each of the twelve months! And so, choosing a December birthstone, for one, will not prove to be a very easy task. Turquoise may be the most popular of all the December birthstones, owing to its value and unique color. Often referred to as the modern December birthstone, turquoise actually happens to be one of the most valuable non-transparent minerals often used in making jewelry. Its value was first discovered by Egyptians in 6000 BC.

Turquoise is considered sacred by the North American Indians and Tibetans. These stones are used in rituals and ceremonies officiated by shamans because it is believed to promote spiritual and mental clarity. These stones are also believed to enhance one's trust, understanding, kindness and wisdom. Although turquoise literally means stone of Turkey in French, turquoise of finest quality are sourced from Iran.

However, high-grade stones can also be found in the southwestern parts of United States such as in Arizona and New Mexico. Turquoise of poor quality is often dyed or applied with coatings of various resins. Turquoise usually come in hues of green blue and light sky blue. Hardness of turquoise stones is between 5- 6.

Another December birthstone would be the zircon which could be mistaken for a diamond due to its luster and fire. Generally, zircon is in hues of browns and greens. However, it can be heat-treated to attain a beautiful blue or golden hue. Blue topaz is another modern December birthstone.

Topaz, the hardest of silicate minerals, came from the Sanskrit word "tapas" which literally means fire and symbolizes love and fidelity. It is believed to possess healing powers. When in its pure form, Topaz appears colorless.

However, with minor treatments, it can turn into a variety of colors such as pink, red, green, yellow and blue. This mineral can be mostly found in Sri Lanka, Pakistan, China, Nigeria, Brazil, Mexico and the United States. Less popular December birthstones would be the tanzanite, lapis or lapiz lasuli, ruby, onyx and chrysoprase. When shopping for birthstones, make sure it is the real thing. There are many categories of gemstones. They are either called genuine, natural, synthetic, simulated, treated or a combination of these.

A genuine gemstone is real. If a genuine gemstone is in the same state it was found, it is called a natural gemstone. On the other hand, the chemical characteristics of some gemstones can be reproduced in laboratories. These are called synthetic gemstones. Synthetic gemstones cost less than natural gemstones. Those who are made to look like genuine stones in color and texture, but are actually made of a different material, are called imitation stones.

Remember that birthstones of low quality, when treated, can look like stones of high quality due to enhanced color and clarity. Read as much as you can about birthstones before making a purchase and compare prices. Comprehensive information that you will need are available on the internet.

Ask for a jeweler or gemologist you trust to guide you in assessing and evaluating the quality of birthstones you are going to buy. Genuine natural birthstones, in particular, are expensive investments and extra caution must be taken in purchasing them.

Lee Dobbins writes for where you can learn more about jewelry and find out about Decembers Birthstone.

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