December Birthstones - Turquoise & Tanzanite

Scotch Street Vintage December Birthstone Collection
The last month of the year is another double birthstone month and they could not be more different. One is ancient with an opaque quality, and is found in several areas in the world. While the other, is a relative baby to the gem world, has a stunning clear clarity and is only found in one place.  So let's dive into all you need to know about December's birthstones.


Turquoise dates back to BC cultures like the Egyptians, it was even found inlaid on King Tut's tomb, which means there are tons of wonderful vintage and antique pieces. There are turquoise deposits in many areas of the world such as Iran, Afghanistan, Southern North America, and most of Central and South America. While turquoise is both the color and name of this stone, the color was actually named after the stone, not the other way around. The original name came from "Turkish Stone" for the the original traders of the gem. This is one of our oldest turquoise pieces from the 1800s.
Scotch Street Vintage Turquoise Pendant


Turquoise is an opaque stone (you can not see through it) so there is no reason for them to be cut or faceted like other gemstones because it does not enhance the color play or look of the stone. For this reason, they are often used in a cabochon cut (domed top with a flat bottom), sphere shaped (like a bead), or in raw form (very often seen in southwestern jewelry). The first image below is a cabochon cut and the second is an example of the seed cut.
Scotch Street Vintage Turquoise Ring  
for product information click on the image above


As mentioned before, the stone is not named for the color the color is named for the stone, so while many think of the color turquoise as a rich bluish green color the turquoise gemstone actually comes in a wide range of blues and greens. Sometimes these gems have veining in black or gold. What all the colors have in common is dull waxy finish. The below images show the range of colors from blue to green.

Scotch Street Vintage Turquoise Flower Ring    

for product information click on the image above

Imposters & What to Look For

There are some attempts at fakes out there that are made of plastic or glass but they are very easy to spot. They are softer stones so while they are not that prone to breaking or chipping they are prone to scratching so you always want to ask for close up pictures to make sure there are not a lot of surface scratches.

Care & Cleaning

These are softer porous stones so you don't want to soak them in water or wear them when your cleaning. Beyond that you should be fine.


Oddly, with tanzanite being one of the newest named gemstones, there is not a lot of factual information as to how it was initially found (I mean it was the 1960s we don't have any definite documentation from then) but what is absolutely positive the gem world instantly fell in love with these stones. Unfortunately, there is not an abundance of this gem and it is currently only found in Tanzania. All of the above means there are not a lot of vintage pieces available and they are expensive. The good news...they are worth it because they are stunningly gorgeous.

Clarity, Cut & Color

These stones are crystal clear and have lots of color play so they can be found in many cuts with all kinds of faceting. It is really the color of Tanzanite that is the show stopper.While these stones have a color changing allusion when manipulating them with light they are not a true "color changing" gem because they do not appear as completely different colors from natural to artificial light.  They have a color range of pale light blue, to vibrant purple, to the most sought after deep blue. Below picture one is a pale light blue, picture two is the vibrant purple and picture three is deep blue.
for product information click on the image above

Treatments & Imposters

Most tanzanite are heat treated, they come out of the ground a reddish brown color, so don't be concerned about treatment with this stone. As for imposters there is not a lab created version of tanzanite. However, one of the biggest fakes for this gem is treated glass because it is one of the few things that can emulate the impeccable clarity, luckily this is easy to have tested.

What to Look For & Special Care

First and foremost, especially when buying vintage tanzanite jewelry don't forget it was only discovered in the late 1960s so if you are looking at a vintage piece that says it is from any time before that be leary. Tanzanite is 6-7 on the Mohs hardness scale which means two things. First, never buy a stone with any visible inclusions because the stone is compromised. Second, these stones can get surface scratching. This is something to look for when buying and think about when caring for. Is it going to get scratched up with everyday you will be fine but if your going rock climbing leave it at home. For cleaning a gentle soaking jewelry cleaner will keep it sparkling!

Find Them All


Scotch Street Vintage Turquoise Jewelry Collection

Scotch Street Vintage Tanzanite Jewelry Collection

Looking for information on a different gemstone? Go here Scotch Street Vintage Gemstone Buyers GuidesAnd as always if you have any questions we are always happy to help you can contact us here.

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