Thursday, December 13, 2012

Birthstones: December & January

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December's birthstone is Blue Topaz.

Natural occurrences of blue topaz are quite rare.  Usually, colorless, pale yellow, gray or blue material are heat treated and irradiated to produce the darker blue desired stone.

Did you know that blue topaz is also the state gemstone of Texas in the United States?

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Each month also has an alternate birthstone.
December's alternate is Lapis Lazuli.

Lapis was known as sapphire in ancient times, which is the name used today for the blue corundum variety of sapphire.  Lapis was also used in the Taj Mahal in India.

Did you know that powdered lapis lazuli was used as eyeshadow by Cleopatra?

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December birth crystal is the Blue Zircon.

Most blue zircon is pastel blue and heat treated to darken the color. Other zircon colors include colorless, red, pink, brown, hazel and black. However, the most popular zircon color is blue. 

Did you know that zircon played an important role in the evolution of radiometic dating?  Radiometric dating methods are used in geochronology to establish the geological time scale.

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January's birthstone is Garnet.

Most garnets come from African countries, yet also mined in Russia, India, and South and Central America.  It is a gem that is not artifically enhanced.

Did you know the first industrial use of garnet appears to have been as coated sandpaper made in the United States in 1878 by Henry Hudson Barson, of Barton Mines Corporation?

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The alternate is Rose Quartz.

Rose quartz is pink quartz that is often called the "Love Stone," and is considered one of the most desireable varieties of quartz.

Did you know the pink color of rose quartz is photosensitive and can fade in sunlight?

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January's birth crystal is Garnet.

Garnets are from a family of gems that come in every color except blue.The red wine colored garnet is the most popular.

Did you know that people used to believe that when danger was near, the garnet would lose its brilliance?