December Birthstone: Turquoise Properties & History

December 04 2017

turquoise december birthstone meaning properties

For centuries, turquoise has been recognized for its powers of protection against injury and evil. It is also thought to relieve mental tension and promote communication, especially beneficial to those who work in law, government, accounting and other anxiety-inducing professions.

The color turquoise is often associated with water, sky, and the connection of the two, imparting the therapeutic benefits of tranquility, calm, grounding and healing when used during meditation.


Turquoise is one of the oldest stones in history. Beads dating back to 5000 B.C. have been found in Iraq, and Egyptian tombs that contained elaborate turquoise jewelry date back to 3000 B.C. Most notably, King Tut’s iconic burial mask was extravagantly adorned with turquoise. Ancient Persians decorated extensively with turquoise, using it to cover palace domes with its sky blue color representing heaven.

Meanwhile, pre-Columbian Native Americans mined turquoise throughout the present-day southwestern United States. Shamans used it in sacred ceremonies to commune with the spirit of the sky. Apache Indians believed that attaching turquoise to bows improved a hunter’s accuracy. Turquoise became valuable in Native American trade, which carried North American material toward South America. Consequently, Aztecs cherished turquoise for its protective power, and used it on ceremonial masks, knives and shields.


Turquoise is found in arid regions where rainwater dissolves copper in the soil, forming colorful nodular deposits when it combines with aluminum and phosphorus. Copper contributes blue hues, while iron and chrome add a hint of green.

Some turquoise contains pieces of host rock, called matrix, which appear as dark webs or patches in the material. This can lower the stone’s value, although the uniform “spiderweb” pattern of Southwestern turquoise is attractive.


December is a month with many birthstone options. Turquoise, tanzanite and blue zircon are the most common modern birthstones, with blue topaz as an alternate, and zircon and lapis lazuli being the traditional options.

The concept of associating a gemstone with each month of the year is an ancient practice, believed to trace back to the Bible with the breastplate of Aaron, a religious garment set with twelve gemstones that represented the twelve tribes of Israel. Later, writings in the 1st century linked the 12 stones in the Breastplate and the 12 signs of the zodiac. The idea was proposed that each of the gemstones had special powers associated with the corresponding astrological sign, and that wearing these stones at the right time would have therapeutic or talismanic benefits.

The concept of each person always wearing a gemstone corresponding to the month of their birth is a modern one that scholars trace to 18th century Poland, with the arrival of Jewish gem traders to the region. Yet the modern list of birthstones was not defined until 1912, by the National Association of Jewelers in the USA.

Information sources: 1 / 2 / 3 / 4

december turquoise birthstone necklace

Many cultures have their own list of birthstones and legends associated with each. My fascination with historical traditions such as this inspired me to make a birthstone collection of my own. Available in both yellow bronze and white bronze with a choice of chain lengths, I designed this necklace to be an everyday wardrobe staple, personal for each woman who wears it.

You can shop my birthstone collection here.


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