December's Birthstone - Turquoise

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  • By Debby Saksewski
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December's Birthstone - Turquoise

This month’s stunning birthstone (also the gemstone for the 11th wedding anniversary) has some fun historical facts and lore surrounding it!


Turquoise is unlike any other stone; from its unique color and chemical make up to its history and lore, this stone is treasured and sought after by rock hounds and jewelry enthusiasts around the world. Unlike most quartz crystal birthstones, turquoise is made of copper and aluminum phosphate. Due to this mineral composition, the stone comes in a variety of colors ranging from a beautiful sky-blue/robin’s egg blue to green tones; the more copper is found in a turquoise stone, the more blue you will see and the more aluminum, the greener the stone. Each turquoise stone is different – typically black or brown spider web-like matrix patterns appear on the surface of the stone, giving each stone a unique look and dimension.


Turquoise is mined all around the world – typically in igneous rock near a water table in arid or semi-arid environments. It can be found in the U.S. in New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, and California.


Because this stone is softer than a typical quartz stone and due to the mineral make-up of the stone, it can change color over time. One must also be very careful when cleaning this stone; warm soapy water is best – and avoid sonic cleaners and harsh chemicals.


History & Lore

Turquoise is one of the oldest known gemstones to be used in jewelry. Early Egyptian Pharaohs and rulers used these stones in jewelry; the excavated mummy of Queen Zer, who ruled in 5500 B.C. wore bracelets with turquoise.


Native Americans have also used turquoise in jewelry and ornamental pieces throughout history. Turquoise was called “Chal-cui-hui-tal” meaning “the highest and most valued thing in the world.” Some thought you could find the stone by following a rainbow to its end; others thought attaching this stone to a bow and arrow could improve the hunter’s aim. Medicine men would use the stones to work charms for healing and luck.


Many other cultures believed this stone was a stone of love and luck. It is said if you wear this gemstone, it will keep you from falling (especially off horses) and would bring health and good fortune. This gemstone is also considered a love charm. Shakespeare used this lore in “The Merchant of Venice”. Leah gave a turquoise ring to Shylock in hopes it would win his love and he would ask her to marry him.


These days, many believe turquoise to be a strong stone of healing, both physical and mental states.

The Bear Den has several beautiful pieces of turquoise set in sterling silver. CLICK HERE to see the pieces we showcase. These are great Christmas or birthday gifts for your loved ones!


Polk, Patti. “Collecting Rocks, Gems, and Minerals. Identification. Values. Lapidary Uses.” 2010

Krause Publications, Iola, WI


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