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About Minerals

Birthstones of December

Zircon - Before the days of CZ, zircon was often used as a substitute for diamond—if it was colorless. Electric blue zircon is relatively uncommon, is not produced synthetically, and all stones are sold out of Thailand. It is generally heat treated to intensify the color. The cut is usually a zircon brilliant cut which is not completely round. It is very hard and durable.

Lapis lazuli is a "rock" because it is composed of several minerals: lazurite, calcite, pyrite and other smaller amounts of other minerals. The best quality still comes from Afghanistan where it has been mined since antiquity , and much smaller amounts are found in Siberia, Burma, Pakistan, Angola, the U.S. and Canada. The distinctive deep blue color sprinkled with minute crystals of pyrite give it an unmistakable appearance. It is one of the most valuable semi opaque materials worth about the same as good quality turquoise and the better jades.

Turquoise is a valuable mineral and possibly the most valuable opaque mineral in the jewelry trade. It has been mined since at least 6000 B.C. by early Egyptians. The finest comes from Iran, but is challenged by specimens from the Southwestern U.S. It is still very popular today. The color varies from greenish blue to sky blue shades, hardness is 5 to 6, and the structure allows it to be affected by oils and light. It should never be cut or worked with oil, and skin oils can affect the color overtime. It is often imitated by "fakes" such as the mineral chrysocolla, and poorer turquoise material which is dyed or color stabilized with resin. These are acceptable in the market if properly identified and are of course much less expensive. A gift of turquoise represents friendship and good luck and may be protective against all manner of evil and ill health.

Blue Topaz is created when Topaz is heated whether by Nature or engineered by man. Pure topaz is colorless but minor changes in elements in the stone result in a variety of other colors. The blue hues of Topaz are Sky, Swiss and London, the latter being the deepest and sometimes used as a less expensive substitute for Sapphire. Topaz is found mainly in Brazil, Nigeria, Sri Lanka, Mexico, Pakistan, China and the U.S. A gift of Topaz is symbolic of love and fidelity.

Tanzanite has only been "on the market" since 1967 when it was first discovered, its unique lavender color has made it very popular. When first mined, most stones are a muted green color and it takes heat treatment to produce the marvelous violet-blue the stone is known for. The only known source is a five square mile hilltop at Merelani, ten miles of Killimanjaro International Airport in Tanzania. It has been my personal experience that Jewelry made from this beautiful stone is a bit fragile, the setting must be designed to shelter the stone from damage, and it is not suitable for pieces that are going to be heavily worn (such as a ring). Also, the color may fade if exposed often to strong light. It is the gem variety of the mineral zoisite.