Turquoise is a summer stone, there’s no arguing otherwise. It’s one we reach for to pair with resort wear, to match the cool blue waters of an island accessible only by boat or plane. It’s electric with white ensembles and soothingly chic with black. It’s a treasure you can’t miss when traveling to desert towns, rife with shops overflowing not only with jewelry but also belt buckles and home goods.
So how, then, is turquoise the birthstone of December? How, when so many other stones seem perfectly fit to their respective months, did we get here? Tanzanite—December’s other birthstone—in its icy purple-blue presence feels apt. But turquoise?
It is written by numerous sources that origins of the birthstone tradition can be traced back to biblical times. But, according to the International Gem Society (IGS), it wasn’t until 1912 that a formal list was made, standardized by the National Association of Jewelers. The choices were strategic and smart: It accounted for customs and practicality, ensuring American jewelers could actually promote and sell these stones in large quantities at the given time.
The list has seen some modifications since. In 1952, the Jewelry Industry Council of America added alexandrite, citrine, pink tourmaline, and zircon. In 2002, tanzanite was added.
For centuries, and by various cultures, turquoise has been thought to possess many powers, health and good fortune being two of them. Health and good fortune sound like proper holiday or New Year’s wishes, don’t they? We’re getting warmer.
In European tradition, turquoise is thought to impart peace to those who wear it. Another tidbit, which I found via GIA, that makes it feel seasonally appropriate. Perfect, even.
When turquoise is dusted in diamonds, you could almost imagine it as a glittering winter scene, its cool blue glowing next to snow and ice or warming by a string of festive lights. I still find it difficult to keep my mind from traveling to cliffside beaches, whitewashed buildings, and warmly glowing breezes.
And yet, many of the pieces pictured here have done what I thought impossible: cast turquoise in the light of winter in a way that feels as natural as it does in the sun of summer.
I still want to make the argument that turquoise ought to swap places with the much more festive ruby of July. But looking at some of these pieces, I’m beginning to understand, and even make the case for, turquoise as a wintry, holiday-ready gem. And whatever you believe, any jewelry lover, celebrating a birthday or not, should have turquoise in their collection to break out all year long.
Top: Earrings in platinum with turquoise, 5.89 cts. t.w. aquamarines, and 1.48 cts. t.w. diamonds, $36,650; Cicada
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