The December birthstone is not black onyx. The December birthstones are turquoise, zircon, and tanzanite. Black onyx is not traditionally associated with December births.
There are three birthstones associated with December birthdays: turquoise, zircon, and tanzanite. Here is some background information on each of these gems:
Turquoise has been prized as a gemstone for thousands of years. The iconic blue-green color has made it popular in jewelry and ornamental objects across many cultures. Some key facts about turquoise:
- Turquoise ranges in color from sky blue to greenish robin’s egg blue.
- It’s an opaque gemstone with intricate veining called matrix.
- Persians first mined turquoise over 6,000 years ago. The oldest turquoise mines are located in Iran.
- Ancient Egyptians adorned themselves with turquoise jewelry. King Tut’s funeral mask contained turquoise decorations.
- Native Americans have used turquoise for jewelry and ceremonial objects for thousands of years. It carries cultural significance among Southwestern tribes like the Navajo, Zuni, and Hopi.
- Chemically, turquoise is a hydrous phosphate containing copper and aluminum.
- December’s blue turquoise represents wisdom, trust, and understanding.
Zircon is an underrated gemstone that comes in a variety of colors. Here are some key facts about zircon:
- Most people think of colorless cubic zirconia when they hear “zircon,” but natural zircon comes in red, orange, yellow, green, blue, brown, and colorless.
- Zircon is very durable – it’s hard enough to scratch glass. This makes it suitable for everyday jewelry.
- Colorless zircon can look similar to diamond. Before modern gemology, many colorless zircons were mistaken for diamonds.
- Zircon is derived from the Persian word “zargun,” meaning gold colored. The golden orange variety is the most popular.
- Zircon often occurs in granite and volcanic rock. Ural Mountains of Russia produce over 50% of the world’s zircon.
- Ancient zircon specimens have been dated over 4.4 billion years old, making zircon one of the oldest minerals on earth.
- December’s glowing zircon evokes innocence, purity, and clearness of mind.
Tanzanite is a vivid violet-blue gemstone that was discovered in the 1960s. Here are some key tanzanite facts:
- Tiffany & Co. named this gem after its country of origin – Tanzania.
- Tanzanite is only found in a small area, near Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania.
- Tanzanite belongs to the mineral species zoisite. It displays different colors due to trace elements present during formation.
- Tanzanite rates 6.5-7 on the Mohs hardness scale so it’s suitable for jewelry.
- Tanzanite is pleochroic, meaning it displays different colors from different angles. The signature violet is visible from some directions.
- Large, high-quality tanzanite is incredibly rare. Most tanzanite stones are heat treated to achieve a permanent violet-blue.
- Mysterious tanzanite represents power and spirituality for December-born people.
Why Black Onyx is Not a December Birthstone
Black onyx is not considered an official or traditional December birthstone for a few reasons:
- Onyx has never been officially adopted as a December birthstone in any major birthstone list.
- Historically, onyx was adopted as a birthstone for July or Leo. Later lists designated sardonyx as the onyx birthstone for August.
- While onyx comes in white, brown, and other colors, black is the most common. Black does not fit the colorful scheme of December.
- Onyx has simple layers rather than the complexity and liveliness characteristic of December’s trio of birthstones.
- The properties of black onyx don’t align with December’s themes of wisdom, trust, innocence, and spirituality.
- Black onyx is more affordable than turquoise, zircon, and tanzanite. December’s birthstones have prestige and rarity value.
When Black Onyx is Used in December Jewelry
While black onyx is not an official December birthstone, it does sometimes make an appearance in December birthstone jewelry. Here’s when you may see black onyx paired with December gems:
- Onyx accents – Some December birthstone rings and pendants feature small black onyx stones as accents surrounding a main turquoise, zircon, or tanzanite gemstone.
- Alternative for men – Black onyx may be used as a masculine alternative to the official December birthstones. The darker color is thought to have a more masculine aesthetic.
- Combined with zodiac stones – If a piece combines December birthstones with Sagittarius and Capricorn zodiac stones, onyx may represent Capricorn.
- Onyx with other birthstones – December-themed jewelry with multiple birthstones for different months may include onyx to represent July or August.
- Vintage and antique jewelry – Much older jewelry followed different birthstone conventions, so antique December birthstone pieces may contain onyx.
While onyx is sometimes incorporated into December birthstone jewelry, it should be used alongside and not in place of turquoise, zircon, and tanzanite – the true trio of December birthstones.
Black onyx is not considered a traditional or modern December birthstone. The three official gems for December are turquoise, zircon, and tanzanite. These colorful stones carry significance and meaning for people born in December. Black onyx has never been officially designated as a December birthstone, though it occasionally appears alongside the traditional gems in birthstone jewelry. When shopping for December birthstone gifts, stick with turquoise, zircon, and tanzanite to honor the month’s official gems.