>> Saturday, December 21, 2013

Turquoise is December’s birthstone, blue as a winter sky or a Christmas forest. These cool turquoise shades have endeared December’s birthstone to cultures from antiquity to today. Even though this opaque gemstone brings to mind the native tribes of the American Southwest, historically, the largest source of turquoise beaded jewelry was the Middle East.

It is generally known that turquoise name is derived from "pierre turquoise" a French phrase meaning "Turkish stone." Others believe that the name comes from the Persian word "fiouze," meaning the color turquoise. Ancient and yet always at the height of current fashion, turquoise was mined by early Egyptians as early as 6000 BC.

For all these civilizations, turquoise was held in esteem not just for its peaceful hues, but because they believed that the gemstone worked as a talisman to clear the mind, enhance good health and protect the wearer from dark forces. In fact, the legends surrounding turquoise all revolve around the gemstone’s reputed ability to bring cheer and dispel darkness. This might be one of the qualities that makes turquoise the ideal birthstone for December — Seasonal Depression Awareness Month.

When given as a gift, turquoise beaded jewelry is meant to endow the recipient with great happiness throughout the year. Certainly, the cool blue that is most prized in turquoise cannot help but be a soothing balm to weary winter spirits. But the green tints that bring to mind placid Caribbean seas add warmth to the season.

To enhance the appearance and durability of turquoise, even the ancients treated their polished turquoise beaded jewelry with wax. In modern times, jewelers often seal turquoise gemstones in a synthetic resin. But even more radical treatments have been devised that can devalue December’s birthstone for the unwary buyer. Perhaps this is why some experts claim that high quality turquoise is now rarer than any other precious gem, including diamonds.

But for those who were born in December, many beautiful and affordable turquoise beaded jewelry and inlaid stone options are available. After all, December brings with it the winter solstice when the sun’s ebb on the sea’s horizon. That makes turquoise, a gemstone that encompasses notions of both sea and sky, a most fitting birthstone for December’s devotees.

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