December Birthstones: Tanzanite and Blue TopazTanzanite, named for the country in which it was discovered, only burst onto the jewelry scene in 1968. One of the most remarkable jewels in modern design, tanzanite is an oceanic jewel whose color radically changes depending on the light. In low light, tanzanite is a rich cornflower blue, but when it’s held up to light, the color transforms into a violet-blue, and it’s easy to see flashes of bright red in its facets.
Alternatively, for a different shade of blue, the December jewel lover may appreciate blue topaz. Topaz is not normally found in shades of blue, and it requires radiation—either from natural sources or manmade—to create the unique tones. Topaz can be found in three shades of blue: Sky, Swiss and London Blue.
Characteristics of these December BirthstonesTanzanite is the gem version of the mineral zoisite, which is a calcium-aluminum mineral. The rarity of tanzanite comes from the fact that it’s a version of zoisite impregnated with rare earth metal vanadium. Because of this, tanzanite is only found in the East African nation, giving it a rarity that can’t be matched by most other gems on the planet. Tanzanite is often paired with diamonds due to their complementary color profiles: A diamond’s ability to throw light and fire only accentuates the wine-violet and burgundy colors that a good tanzanite produces. The magical elegance of a tanzanite also pairs well with white gold settings, because the pale color of white gold provides a blank canvas for other shades to be shown off.
Topaz is a very hard mineral formed from aluminum and fluorine. Beyond its relative hardness, topaz has been noted for its ability to display many wonderful colors. From yellow to orange to pink, topaz is a good choice for a woman who wants to wear a variety of shades without breaking the bank. However, the second December birthstone is specifically blue topaz. Rare in nature, due to the necessity of raw topaz being exposed to radiation (such as that produced by uranium), scientists have been able to mimic the natural process by bombarding the jewel with neutron, gamma, or electron radiation. If that raises an eyebrow, we’d like to note that this process is extremely safe for those wearing the stone. It’s no more dangerous than a microwaved bag of popcorn (albeit far more beautiful)!