Tuesday, December 13, 2011

December Birthstone: Turquoise

Turquoise is the one of the official birth stones for the month of December.  The colour is, of course, turquoise, but its range of colour varies from green and greenish blue to sky blue shades.  The name 'turquoise' comes from a French word which means 'stone of Turkey' and is apparently related to the fact that is was brought to Europe from the Eastern Mediterranean by Levantine traders, more commonly known as Turks.

For centuries, the highest quality turquoise came from Iran (Persia) but today some specimens mined in the southwestern United States compete with it.  The Aztecs mined turquoise in an area now known as New Mexico and a significant amount of turquoise comes from Arizona, California and Nevada also.  Turquoise is one of the first gems that man began to mine.

Turquoise is one of the most valuable non-transparent minerals used in the jewelry trade.  Poorer quality turquoise is often dyed or colour stabilized with coatings of various resins.  The colour can change with exposure to skin oils if the stone has not been stabilized and therefore, jewelry should be wiped clean to deter this.

It is a sacred stone to the North American Indians, as well as, the Tibetans.  It is often used by shamans in rituals & ceremonies and said to promote mental & spiritual clarity & expansion, and to enhance wisdom, trust , kindness and understanding.  Turquoise amulets have been worn for protection on quests & journeys through the unknown and for strength.  This stone is a very personal and meaningful stone to one who wears it. Turquoise takes on the characteristics of the owner.  It is the symbol of friendship and also brings peace to the home.

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