December is the only month on the calendar that has multiple birthstones associated with it. Most months have just one birthstone, but December has a whopping three – turquoise, zircon, and tanzanite. So why does December get so many birthstones when other months just get one?
The history of birthstones
The tradition of associating certain gemstones with months of the year dates back thousands of years. In ancient times, people believed that wearing a stone corresponding to one’s birth month provided healing properties and good fortune. Over time, different cultures and organizations developed their own birthstone lists. Eventually, the American National Association of Jewelers created a standardized list in 1912 which associated a single birthstone with each month. But December’s triple birthstones pre-date this list.
Turquoise – The original December stone
Turquoise has been associated with December since long before the modern birthstone list was created. Ancient Persians, Egyptians, and other cultures in the Middle East valued turquoise and linked it to December at least as far back as the 1300s. Many believed it had positive effects on health, wealth, and happiness. The cool blue shade of turquoise resembles clear December skies, which may be why it was chosen to represent this winter month. Turquoise remains the original and traditional birthstone for December.
Zircon – A relatively modern addition
The gemstone zircon was added to the December birthstone list in the 1850s by gemologists. At the time, the list still allowed for multiple birthstones per month. The brilliant, colorless zircon was chosen since its luster and shine evokes light in the darkness – an appealing imagery for the winter month. Additionally, zircon was frequently mined in December, so it was economically logical to designate it as a December birthstone. While not as ancient as turquoise, zircon has over 150 years of history as a December gem.
Tanzanite – A modern birthstone discovery
Tanzanite is a relative newcomer as a December birthstone, having been added to the official list in 2002. This rare blue-violet mineral was first discovered in the 1960s in Tanzania (hence the name) and quickly became popular in jewelry. After decades of prominence in December born individuals’ birthstone choices, the Gemological Institute of America finally made it official in 2002. Its vivid color echoes December’s clear winter nights and its recent discovery represents December’s transitional place between the old year and new.
Why does December have multiple stones?
There are a few key reasons why December has amassed a trio of birthstones over the centuries while other months just have one:
- Long history – December’s association with turquoise dates back over 600 years. The tradition had time to become well-established.
- Association with multiple cultures – Turquoise and zircon originated in different regions, allowing each culture to adopt their local gem for December.
- Winter symbolism – The colors and properties of December’s stones evoke winter imagery of cool blue skies, sparkling ice, and bright stars.
- Economic incentive – Having options allowed people to choose a December stone based on availability and budget.
- Modern associations – Tanzanite was adopted as tastes and gemstone discoveries continued to evolve.
In short, December accumulated multiple birthstones thanks to its long history, cultural diversity, seasonal symbolism, economic pragmatism, and modern associations.
Astrological meaning of December’s birthstones
In astrology, it’s thought that wearing your corresponding birthstone enhances your innate qualities and helps counterbalance negative traits associated with your birth month. Here are the purported astrological powers of December’s trio of birthstones:
- Promotes calm and wisdom
- Absorbs negative energy
- Brings good fortune
- Aids creativity and honest self-expression
- Inspires honor and self-esteem
- Evokes spiritual protection and clarity
- Clears away dishonesty and jealousy
- Boosts confidence and love
- Enhances intuition and psychic ability
- Promotes spiritual wisdom and inner peace
- Balances the mind and soothes the soul
- Fosters compassion and empathy
According to astrologers, those born in December can benefit from all three stones. Wearing them is believed to amplify positive traits and temper negative ones.
Birthstone colors and their meanings
December’s trio of birthstones also carry important symbolic meaning through their colors:
- Blue tone evokes calmness, healing, flow, and stability.
- Colorless variety symbolizes light, life, and innocence.
- Blue-violet color represents spirituality, inspiration, and imagination.
Together, the colors reinforce winter-themed imagery of night skies, icy sparkle, and cool serenity. The birthstones offer light during December’s long nights and create a sense of calm and inner reflection during the hectic holiday season.
Birthstone properties and benefits
In addition to symbolic meaning, December’s three birthstones offer these Benefits:
- Stimulates wisdom, trust, and understanding
- Strengthens the immune system
- Aids in absorption of nutrients
- Helps regulate fluids in the body
- Provides protection and brings good fortune
- Promotes honor, self-esteem, and clarity
- Relieves pain and inflammation
- Protects against nightmares and evil spirits
- Brings prosperity and draws love
- Enhances intuition and psychic abilities
- Promotes spiritual growth and inner peace
- Balances the energies of the mind, body, and spirit
- Fosters compassion, gentleness, and empathy
Combining the energies of all three December birthstones is believed to bring a wealth of positive effects to those born in this month. The stones complement each other and provide benefits spanning the physical, emotional, and spiritual realms.
December birthstone jewelry ideas
There are many beautiful ways to wear December birthstones. Here are some jewelry options to capture the magic of turquoise, zircon, and tanzanite:
- Turquoise bracelet or necklace for its spiritual protection and healing properties.
- Southwestern turquoise and silver ring, bracelet, or earrings to honor the stone’s historic origins.
- Turquoise cocktail ring for a bold pop of color.
- Solitaire zircon pendant that showcases the stone’s brilliance.
- Vintage-inspired zircon earrings with intricate metalwork.
- Modern zircon halo ring surrounded by sparkling diamonds.
- Tanzanite and diamond halo earrings highlighting the gem’s rich color.
- Bold tanzanite right hand ring to make a statement.
- Dainty tanzanite necklace for an eye-catching pop of purple.
- Pendant with all three birthstones.
- Cocktail ring featuring a trio of gems.
- Bracelet alternating turquoise, zircon and tanzanite beads.
The unique properties and complementary colors of December’s birthstones make them ideal for layering together in beautiful, meaningful pieces.
How to care for December birthstones
While turquoise, zircon, and tanzanite each have unique care requirements, some general tips will help keep December birthstone jewelry looking its best:
- Store pieces separately to prevent scratching. Soft cloth pouches or boxes work well.
- Clean with gentle soap and water. Tanzanite in particular should never be exposed to acid, bleach, or ultrasonic cleaning.
- Avoid exposing to heat and harsh chemicals. Do not leave tanzanite in direct sunlight.
- Have stones checked and re-set periodically by a jeweler to ensure secure settings.
- Take off December birthstone jewelry when doing physical work to prevent damage.
- Consider special insurance for valuable turquoise, zircon, or tanzanite pieces.
With proper care, December birthstone jewelry can remain beautiful keepsakes for many years to come.
December’s triple birthstones offer a bounty of beauty, meaning, and history. Turquoise has ancient origins and deep spiritual symbolism. Zircon provides brilliant shine and modern allure. Tanzanite contributes rich color and contemporary sophistication. Together, these three stones provide options with unique colors, properties, and styles for those born in December. Their variety and complementary energies create limitless possibilities for jewelry to delight those celebrating a December birthday.