December Birthstone: Turquoise
Alternative Birthstone: Lapis Lazuli
Turquoise is the birthstone for December and the traditional gift to commemorate the 5th and 11th years of marriage. It's color is, of course, is referred to as turquoise, but the hue can range widely from the familiar green-blue to a light sky-blue.
It is generally accepted that turquoise gets its name from "pierre turquoise" a French phrase meaning "Turkish stone." Others believe that the name comes from the Persian word "fiouze," meaning the color turquoise. Ancient and yet always at the height of current fashion, turquoise was mined by early Egyptians as early as 6000 BC.
Many people are surprised to learn that the finest turquoise comes from Iran, not the American Southwest. However beautiful specimens are also found in Arizona and New Mexico in the United States, as well as in Australia, Afghanistan and other localities in the Middle East.
For thousands of years, turquoise has been appreciated as a holy stone, talisman, and a good-luck-charm. The excavation of Egyptian tombs from approximately 3,000 B.C. holds the oldest living proof of man's interest in turquoise, where the gemstone was found decorating artifacts that were buried with the dead. When the tomb of Queen Zer was unearthed in 1900, a turquoise and gold bracelet was found on her wrist, one of the oldest pieces of jewelry ever discovered!
In ancient Persian, the sky-blue gemstones were originally worn around the neck or on the hand as protection to ward off unnatural death. If the stones changed their colour, there was an imminent danger for the wearer.
Turquoise also has a sacred place in the religious rites of North American Indians and by the Tibetans, whose shamans include it in rituals and ceremonies. Turquoise is said to promote mental and spiritual clarity to enhance wisdom, trust, kindness, and understanding.
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Apache Indians believed that turquoise gave warriors and hunters better aim and Zuni tribes believed that it protected them from demons. In Asia, turquoise was considered protection against the evil eye, while Tibetans carved turquoise into ritual objects.
Wherever in the world it is worn and loved, turquoise is believed to promote prosperity.
For centuries, turquoise was thought to protect riders and horses from falls. Today the beautiful stone is considered a good luck "charm" for aviators, flight staff and other professionals who need to ward off accidents.
Turquoise's bright and happy color is supposed to lend self-confidence to subdued personalities, and it is also very popular as a token of friendship, since Turquoise is reputed to be responsible for faithfulness and reliable relationships.
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