December's Birthstones: Turquoise, Tanzanite, & Topaz - Oh My!
December boasts not just one, but three beautiful blue birthstones: turquoise, tanzanite, and topaz. Each gemstone has its own unique look and properties that make them gorgeous choices for custom rings!
Turquoise is one of our favorite stones to work with! It has a long history of being adorned by mankind for thousands of years. From the Ancient Egyptians to the Indigenous peoples of the Americas, turquoise has been used in carvings, jewelry, and talismans and holds special significance in many cultures. Today, it is a popular gemstone in Western-style jewelry and fashion in the United States, being used not only in rings, bracelets, and necklaces, but also in belt buckles, brooches, boots, and more. With its unmatched opacity and beauty, it is no wonder turquoise has been a favorite of mankind for so long.
Each piece of turquoise will have its own unique matrix (or veining) throughout the stone. This matrix can vary in color from yellow, brown, and black. The gorgeous color of turquoise itself can also range from light robin's egg blue to greenish or yellowish-blue and can have a lot, a little, or even no matrix. The photo below of our "KB" design shows how truly one-of-a-kind each piece of turquoise is!
Turquoise ranks between five and six on the Moh's scale which is considered fair to good. Still, it is a softer center stone choice and special care should be taken to avoid damaging turquoise stones. Protective settings such as bezel settings or ring guards are a good way to help protect your center stone. We not only offer turquoise as a center stone option, but also as a crushed inlay. This is a great way to incorporate turquoise into a custom engagement ring or wedding band without sacrificing durability. Below is our "Lucy In The Sky" design with moissanite and turquoise inlays.
Want to learn more about turquoise? Read more about it in our turquoise blog here!
First discovered in 1967, tanzanite is exceptionally rare and unique in that is can only be found in one place on Earth - northern Tanzania. Tanzanite's real mineral name is actually zoisite, but the name "Tanzanite" was coined by Tiffany & Co. who named the mineral after its' source country. Tanzanite was an instant hit among jewelry enthusiasts and has remained one of the most popular gemstones ever since. Today, it is a December birthstone as well as being the gem of the 24th anniversary.
One of the more modern gemstone discoveries, tanzanite is a treasured stone with a vivid blue and violet appearance but can also be green and/or multi-colored. The crystalline structure of tanzanite is pleochroic which means it can display different colors when viewed from different directions. Tanzanite is also often heat treated in order to improve color; however, today some jewelers and customers seek unheated and/or fancy colored stones for their natural color and beauty. We are able to source both heated and unheated stones, and often work with fancy colored tanzanite stones. Pictured below is our "Ariel" Mine Stone - a gorgeous fancy color mermaid tanzanite that displays beautiful periwinkle, sky blue, and sea foam green.
Tanzanite ranks between six and seven on the Moh's scale but has cleavage, meaning hard blows or strikes can damage and fracture the stone. This means that this gemstone requires special care but can last a long time if properly cared for! Protective settings such as bezel settings or ring guards are a great way to help prevent damage for those concerned about durability.
Topaz is a relatively plentiful gemstone found across the world - from Australia, to Pakistan, parts of Africa, Brazil, Mexico, and more. Not only a December birthstone, blue topaz is also the gemstone of the 4th anniversary. The beautiful blue color variations of topaz rival the appearance of sapphire and aquamarine while costing a fraction of the price!
This "Laura" design engagement ring features a stunning emerald cut London blue topaz.
Topaz has been a treasured gemstone since ancient times. The people of Ancient Greece and Renaissance Europe believed topaz was believed to hold special powers such as providing strength and protection from magic spells. During these times, other gemstones such as peridot, citrine, and aquamarine were often mistaken to be topaz because it can be very difficult to distinguish them from each other by the naked eye. In fact, it is believed that the name "Topaz" may have originated from the name Topazios, the old Greek name for Zabagard island, a main source of peridot (thought to be topaz) to the ancient world.
Topaz comes in nearly every color as well as colorless, but blue variations are the most common. Blue topaz has typically been heat-treated and/or irradiated in order to achieve its icy, vivid, or dark blue color. Like tanzanite, topaz's structure is pleochroic and can display different colors depending on viewing angle and lighting. We offer several different topaz types/colors including:
- Sky blue topaz
- London blue topaz
- Swiss blue topaz
- Opalescent topaz
Sky blue topaz is a very light blue color similar to aquamarine. Swiss blue topaz has a more vibrant bright color. London blue topaz has a deeper blue color that is comparable to natural Montana sapphires. The photo below is a comparison between sky blue topaz (left) and Swiss blue topaz (right).
Opalescent topaz is white topaz that has been coated with a metallic oxide that creates the gorgeous rainbow colors. This coating is durable enough to withstand every day wear-and-tear but is prone to damage from abrasive cleaners. With this type of topaz it is especially crucial to avoid ultrasonic and steam cleaners as these can cause irreversible harm to the stone. Our "North Star" design engagement ring shown below features an oval opalescent topaz center stone.
Topaz ranks high on the Moh's scale - an eight out of ten to be exact - however, it has a basal cleavage (a cleavage that runs in one direction) and therefore does require special care. Avoid hitting or bumping topaz as this could cause the stone to fracture and break. Protective settings are recommended for topaz rings.
The combination of topaz's cost effective price, beautiful colors, and great durability make it a great center stone option for a custom ring!
Care & Cleaning of Turquoise, Tanzanite, & Topaz Jewelry
We get it - you want to wear your ring all the time! However, wearing your ring in some situations can cause unwanted damage including loose prongs, impact damage which can cause the stone to chip or break, or even cause scratching of the stone. This is especially true with December's birthstones due to them being a bit softer and more sensitive relative to diamond, moissanite, or sapphire. Rings should be removed before:
- All manual labor (including sports, going to the gym, gripping items with force such as bicycle handlebars, luggage, etc.)
- Doing household chores including washing dishes, laundry, and cleaning
- Contact with chemicals such as chlorine and household bleach, perfumes, cosmetics, lotions, and other substances which may cause damage to your one-of-a-kind ring
You should also avoid extreme temperatures or over-exposure to light as these can cause damage to these stones. Finally, be sure to store turquoise, tanzanite, and topaz jewelry away from other jewelry that could cause scratching or damage.
This is not an exhaustive list of activities that could cause damage to your ring. Read our full Care Guidelines here.
To clean your custom ring, use warm soapy water and a soft brush or cloth. Do not use ultrasonic or steam cleaners for topaz, turquoise, or tanzanite jewelry. For turquoise, be sure to thoroughly dry the stone in order to avoid damage.
Designing a Custom Ring With Turquoise, Tanzanite, or Topaz
The variety of gorgeous blues seen between turquoise, tanzanite, and topaz make them the perfect December birthstones. We are excited to offer all three stones as options to be used in custom ring designs! Browse our collections of already listed customizable ring designs, browse the Staghead Mine for a gorgeous tanzanite, or design your own dream ring from scratch! Our skilled artisans and design team are passionate about handcrafting unique rings with meaningful materials that are personal to you and your love. Find or design your dream wedding rings today!