Hillman Hall of Minerals and Gems

December: Turquoise, Zircon, or Tanzanite

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Sky blue turquoise has been highly valued since ancient times. Persia, Egypt, Tibet, and others valued this easily workable stone for jewelry and amulets. In the United States, turquoise is usually identified with a southwestern or Indian motif. Much of the turquoise on the market today is enhanced to one extent or another. Unaltered, top-quality turquoise is still a gem to be treasured.

Zircon comes in every color and its high brilliance exceeds even that of diamond. It is common in igneous and metamorphic deposits, although gem-quality stones are not common. The best gemstones are currently mined in Thailand and Sri Lanka (Ceylon).

Tanzanite is the newest member of the birthstone family. Its deep blue-violet color is the result of heating (naturally or otherwise) of green zoisite. It is found only in Tanzania.

Circon and "Garnet" ring by Paula Crevoshay                             
Photo by Paula Crevoshay
  Zoisite variety Tanzanite
Photo by Mike Haritos
     
Ring   Tanzanite
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