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DECEMBER BIRTHSTONE

BlueTopaz , Turquoise and Tanzanite are the modern gemstones, Turquoise and Tanzanite are the modern gemstones, Zircon, turquoise are the traditional gemstones, Lapis Lazuli is the mystical, onyx is the ayurvedic and Ruby is the alternate  gemstone for December.

Topaz was believed to possess many virtues. A symbol of friendship, it was thought to calm anger and guard against envy. Its powers preserved the wearer from "spiritual heats" and "all manner of love excesses." This calming influence extended to inanimate objects as well: it was used to cool boiling water and to quench thirst. Despite such calming influences, however, it was a powerful aphrodisiac and was often used to treat sexual dysfunction.

Powdered and mixed with rosewater, topaz prevented bleeding; nosebleeds could be stopped by pressing a stone against the side of the nose. It was believed that madness could be cured by a dose of topaz and wine. As a guard against sorcery, topaz was worn, set in gold, on the left arm. It also was thought to cure cowardice, remove tumors, improve eyesight, aid digestion, and prevent sleepwalking.

Blue topaz is the accepted anniversary gemstone for the 4th year; Imperial topaz for the 23rd year of marriage. Most people think of topaz as a transparent golden yellow gemstone. However, this gemstone occurs colorless as well as orange-yellow, red, honey-brown (dark sherry), light green, blue and pink.

The name topaz is derived from the Greek word meaning "to shine" and also implies "fire". Orange-red "Imperial" topaz and pink colors are rare and most valuable. The lore, magic and romance of topaz goes back many thousands of years. It holds the distinction of being the gemstone with the widest range of curative powers. The Greeks felt it gave them strength. In addition, it supposedly cooled tempers, restored sanity, cured asthma, relieved insomnia and even warded off sudden death. Topaz is said to make its wearer invisible in time of emergency. It proved the loyalty of associates by changing color in the presence of poison.

As part of the normal fashioning process, most brownish to sherry brown topaz are heated to produce a permanent pink color. Certain types of topaz are irradiated and heated to produce shades of blue. Topaz is found mainly in Brazil, Nigeria, Sri Lanka, Pakistan and China.

Turquoise is one of the oldest known talismanic and curative gems, prized by many civilizations and cultures. Because of its changeable color, it was thought to predict the weather, indicate illness, and warn of poison. It could strengthen eyesight and even cure blindness. Attached as an amulet to the bridle of a horse (or mule or camel), it made the animal surefooted. Affixed to a gun or bow, it ensured accuracy of aim. It was believed to keep its wearer from injury or death if (s)he fell from a cliff. The stone symbolized success and good fortune, and often was worn as a love charm. To tell the time, a turquoise was suspended by a string inside a glass, against which it would strike the hours. According to legend, December's birthstone originates in the wet earth at the end of the rainbow.Turquoise is the accepted birthstone for December and is the accepted anniversary gemstone for the 11th year of marriage.

Colors in turquoise range from sky blue (most desirable color) to blue green and apple green. The name means "Turkish stone" because the trade route that brought it to Europe used to come via Turkey. The best qualities are found in northeast Iran (Persian turquoise). However, the United States southwest is now the world leader in production. The deposits in Sinai were already worked out by 4,000 BC. At that time the stone was used for jewelry, amulets and in the preparation of cosmetics. During the 16th century turquoise was used as currency by the Southwest Indians. They believed the gemstone could bring spoils to the warrior, animals to the hunter, and happiness and good fortune to all.

Although large quantities of beautiful turquoise which have not been color enhanced are available, today's turquoise is commonly stabilized with plastic to improve its color and durability. Chalky varieties of turquoise are normally impregnated with oil or wax to enhance color. This color change may not be permanent. Care should be taken to protect it from scratches, sharp blows, hot water, and household chemicals. Do not use a home ultrasonic machine.

Zircon's ancient name was jacinth or hyacinth. The amber-colored variety, nicknamed the lynx stone, was work over the solar plexus in a brown cloth bag, to cure insomnia. Powdered zircon was used to stimulate the heart and to stop convulsions and cramps. Hung around the neck, it protected against plague and wounds. Farmers counted on the zircon to provide a good harvest and to guard against lightning. Holding the stone in one's mouth was believed to cheer the heart and mind. Zircon also was thought to ensure prudence in business matters, ward off poison, and exorcise the devil. To accomplish this last, a cross was first incised into a loaf of hot wheat bread. The zircon was then traced along the cut while a prayer was recited, and then the bread was eaten. Zircon is one of December's natal gems.

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