We've entered December and we're looking back at the year gone by and wondering about the one around the bend. For December births though, it's truly a month of simultaneous ends and new beginnings – a new calendar year and a new year of life to be lived. And with that, we come to the last birthstone for the year...the turquoise gemstone.
The planetary stone for the zodiac signs of Aquarius, Taurus and Sagittarius, the turquoise is one of the most popular opaque gemstones. Historically, it was best known as an ornamental gemstone in the Persian and Native American cultures. Even today, it remains a popular stone the world over, and is the only gemstone to have a color named after it.
Getting to know your turquoise gemstone
The word "turquoise" harks back to the 17th century, when trading routes connected Persia to Europe, via the Middle East and the traders passing through Turkey brought the gemstones that the locals dubbed "turquies". Turquoise is mainly available in Iran, Afghanistan, China, Australia, Chile, Mexico, Nevada and Arizona.
The turquoise gemstone comes in various shades of blue or green, most usually mottled or veined with brown or black. Of them all, the deep turquoise-blue shade is the most desired. Thanks to its porous nature, for those who are not very fond of the veined look, the turquoise can be dyed to enhance its blue shade (since this is a common practice, it's best to buy a turquoise piece from reputed dealers who make full disclosure).
An accompanying disadvantage of the porous turquoise is that it is very susceptible to oils and cleaners, which means they can't be washed with anything other than water to avoid damaging the stone. A very soft stone, it is also prone to cracks...a very handle with care gemstone, this!
Turquoise in the history of the world
Turquoise has been a prized stone, especially among ancient Egyptians, Orientals and American Indians, for many thousands of years. These stones have been found in many burial sites among Egyptian pharaohs, Persian shahs and Indian chiefs. It has even received mention in the Bible as one of the 12 gemstones on Aaron's breastplate, representing the 12 tribes of Israel.
As always, the different cultures revering the stone have imbued it with different and yet, curiously similar properties. Egyptians believed the turquoise healed cataracts. The Orientals used turquoise to decorate mosques and other important buildings and believed that these stones warded off all evil. Ancient Persians believed that to ward off evil and attract good fortune, one had to see the reflection of the new moon in a turquoise stone. In Tibet, turquoise (primarily silver-mounted) was considered a deity and famous families attempted to attract good luck to their houses by adopting last names that incorporated the gemstone's name.
Turquoise and Native Americans
The turquoise was of special significance to the ancient Native Americans. They believed this sky blue stone was representative of the god of the sky, and carved bird and animal figurines out of turquoise and placed them in tombs to attract good spirits and guard the dead.
Even among the different tribes, there were different beliefs and practices with this gemstone. The Pima believed it brought strength and good fortune and overcame illness. The Navajos believed that throwing a piece of turquoise in the river while praying to the rain gods would bring the gift of rain. Apache warriors affixed these stones to the end of their bows to aid in their accuracy and protect them in battle. They also put these stones in their horse's bridle or mane to ensure it remained sure-footed. All these tribes believed that the turquoise was essential for the protection of the body and soul.
Even today, the belief that this stone protects is strong, with a crack in the stone meaning that the gemstone took an injury meant for the wearer! To know more about Native American beliefs, visit this link.
Spiritual properties of the Turquoise
The turquoise gemstone holds a special place in the spiritual world. Considered the stone of the throat chakra, the turquoise is said to enhance communication by stimulating the throat and also increasing one's confidence.
Mentally, the turquoise is believed to relieve stress and mental tension, and calm the mind and emotions. Spiritually, it is said to help find the truth, either within oneself or through communication with others, and to renew one's energy by drawing on the connection with the spirit world.
Turquoise and new age beliefs
Today, while drawing on its ancient powers of protection and healing, the turquoise gemstone is also believed to give its owner courage, friendship and luck, and even attract money, love and success. It is also considered a perfect token of protection during astral travel and vision quests, serving as a grounding force. Some new age beliefs attribute this stone as a bridge between the physical world and higher realms, balancing the mind and the soul.
So now, as the new year beckons (in all ways), it's the perfect time to begin anew with a talisman of protection and prosperity, wouldn't you say? December-born or not, a turquoise gemstone is something you definitely want with you as you wait to see what lies in the near future. Now that we've started that train of thought, here are some turquoise pieces we have on hand:
Bulgari Mediterranean Eden Amethyst Turquoise Earrings
Bulgari Mediterranean Eden Amethyst Turquoise Diamond Necklace
Estate Turquoise Brooch
White Gold Turquoise Oval Cufflinks
Come by our store or contact us for these and other turquoise options!