December’s Birthstone -Turquoise

December’s Birthstone: Turquoise
Alternate Stones: Tanzanite & Zircon
Zodiac stones
Sagittarius November 23- December 2: Turquoise
Capricorn December 22-January 20: Garnet
The 11th Anniversary stone


Turquoise Beads

Like many gemstones, turquoise comes in a variety of colors, from nearly white, through light blues, to deep sky or robin’s egg blue to earthy greens and yellow. Native Americans described it as ‘fallen sky stone’ and many domed roofs in Iran are sheathed in turquoise symbolizing ‘heaven on earth’. Bright sky blue with no inclusions, and consistent color is highly prized. Turquoise gets its name from a French translation of Pierre tourques meaning stone from Turkey.  Turquoise is a cryptocrystalline mineral that very rarely forms in a crystal shape. It is formed over time by the percolating of acidic solutions of weathered minerals and metals like copper, aluminum, and phosphorus. It measures a 6 on the Mohs’ scale, therefore turquoise is a softer stone so is often shaped into cabochons, beads and extensively used in inlay.

Turquoise was one of the first stones to be mined, Turkey and Persia (now Iran) were traditional sources of European turquoise. These sources are now depleted and only mined seasonally by small family ventures. The larger deposits of commercial turquoise are found in the southwest of the US, primarily, Nevada, Arizona and New Mexico. Different colors and qualities are produced in each area, leading to distinct types of turquoise names, Kingman, Sleeping Beauty, or Bisbee. Arid regions are associated with turquoise deposits; mines exist in China, Afghanistan, Australia, Chile, and northern India.

Turquoise beads.

Turquoise beads.

Turquoise has long been associated with treatments applied to enhance the color and durability of the stone. In Egypt the desire for a more durable blue colored material lead to the development of faience, a glaze for pottery and a precursor to glass. Turquoise may be stabilized to enhance lower grade more fractured material and dyed to improve the color.  Simple oiled or waxed treatments are considered acceptable since it has a very low impact on the stone. Reconstituted material, ground fine then added to resin and re-cut after hardening is the lowest grade. Synthetic Gilson turquoise from the 1970’s is even collectible!

Reputed to take on the persona of the person who wears it, turquoise is often associated with truth and wisdom, in many cultures it is also a stone of success.Turquoise may help with symptoms of rheumatism gout, stomach issues, and viruses. Increases growth, anti-inflammatory and a detoxifier. Especially noted as a protection against falls.  It is a stone of protection, worn by warriors, kings and shamans.

Using Turquoise in your jewelry designs-

Depending on the color of turquoise chosen there are many stones that work well with the blue-green color stones. Native Americans mix turquoise with other opaque stones, like coral, malachite, onyx, sugilite, and lapis. The most common metal for mixing with turquoise is silver, both bright and oxidized. Bright blue stones would be striking wire wrapped on gold wire, or mixed with pyrite, golden pearls or amber. Olive green or heavily veined beads would lovely added to a darker brown stone like tiger’s eye.

November’s Birthstone -Topaz and Citrine

Alternate Birthstone: Citrine
Ancient birthstone: Topaz & pearl
Zodiac stones for Scorpio October 24-November 21: Beryl
Sagittarius November 22-December 21: Topaz
The 4th anniversary stone

London Blue Topaz Beads (top) Imperial Topaz Beads (bottom)

London Blue Topaz Beads (top)
Imperial Topaz Beads (bottom)


Topaz comes in a rich rainbow of colors: white, yellow, purple, blue, pink, and orange. The most desirable Imperial Topaz has an orange color with pink under tones. Topaz gets its name from the old French word, ‘topace’ and Latin, Topazus. The name is also related to the Sanskrit word, “tapas” meaning heat or fire and the Hebrew word, tapooz the orange fruit. Topaz measures 8 on the Moh’s hardness scale making topaz a hard stone. This hardness results in very crisp and sparkly facets in gem quality stones. Topaz is a silicate mineral of aluminum and fluorine. Trace amounts of other minerals create the wide color varieties. Naturally occurring blue or pink topaz is quite rare, less colorful stones are heat-treated and irradiated to enhance or create darker blue stones. Mystic topaz is coated to give it a rainbow effect.  Topaz is found in many locations around the world, the Urals, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, Western Europe, South America, Africa, and Australia and in the United States in Utah. Topaz is thought to aid in problems of the mind, mental issues, assist in mental acuity, as well as a talisman against sudden death. It has been used by royalty and in religious decorations from the Middle Ages.


Citrine Beads


A golden variant of quartz, citrine ranges in color from pale yellows to brownish orange and can actually be amethyst that has been heat-treated! Like amethyst, citrine is rated a 7 on the Mohs hardness scale. Citrine takes a fine polish and is readily cut into faceted stones for jewelry or beads. Natural citrine is quite rare, and can be expensive. Telling the difference between natural and heat-treated stones is difficult, assume most lower quality and price stones are heat-treated. Like all quartz family members, citrine can be found in South America, the United States and some high quality stones come from Norway. Citrine is known as the ‘shopkeepers stone’ and is said to attract wealth and success. It’s golden color is a sunny optimistic mood enhancer, drawing a flow of energy to improve digestion and physical endurance.

Using Topaz and Citrine in your jewelry

Depending on the color of topaz, matching it with gold or silver is a designers dilemma, the cool of blue topaz certainly lends itself to it bright silver beads or wire, the warm tones lean off towards gold, especially vermeil, as its rich gold tone will enhance the topaz. The clear and sparkly nature of topaz should perk up any design.

Citrine with its brighter yellow hue is a wonderful accompaniment to cool stones like grey moonstone, labradorite, and of course its cousin amethyst. Try knotting very pale citrine on yellow silk to enhance the color from within. Darker brown citrine is a good match for amber, adding a polished contrast to amber’s matte finish.

September Birthstone: Sapphire

Alternate Birthstone: Lapis Lazuli
Ancient Birthstone: Carnelian
Zodiac sign for Virgo August 23-September 22: Sapphire
Libra September 23- October 22: Opal


Dark blue sapphire beads

Those born in September claim sapphire as their birthstone. Blue sapphire is a variant of corundum, ranging in color from a pure blue, light blue or darker shades and can have a dark greenish to violet-blue undertone. Medium blues with a violet tint are the most valuable and sought after. Multiple colors of sapphire are common, known as pink, orange, green, or purple sapphire and all are corundum with differing minerals or metals accounting for the variation in color.  Colorless or white sapphires have no minerals influencing their color. Blue sapphires are colored with a combination of titanium and iron, producing a blue hue. Sapphires like other corundum are very hard, a 9 on the Moh’s scale, and so are also used in industrial applications. Lab grown sapphire is used for bulletproof windows for armored cars and glass covers of instrument gauges in very high heat and pressure situations. Most sapphires are heat-treated to intensify the color and remove internal flaws, improving color and clarity. Natural gem quality stones are rare, and should have certification that they have had no treatment.


Rich multicolor sapphire beads.multisapphires

Gem quality sapphires are mined around the world. Australia, Sri Lanka, and Madagascar are primary suppliers. In the US, Montana has several locations where sapphires are mined from deposits and the most recently opened mine, the Yogo, produces fine blue sapphires.

Sapphires get their name from several ancient roots, Latin, sapphirus meaning blue, and the Arabic saphir. It is known as the ‘”Celestial stone” and used in many religions from a  sign of the heavenly realm, to gods like Apollo, and the Virgin Mary. Sapphires are believed to offer protection from harm and envy, ensure fidelity and guard one from snakes and serpents.

An alternate to sapphire for a September birthstone is another blue stone, Lapis Lazuli. Its deep blue color has been an attraction for generations. The blue color varies from true dark blue to violet and greenish blue. Its color can be improved with heat and dyeing treatments. The mineral composition of lapis is lazuirte, a feldspothoid silicate mineral. It may contain, white bands of calcite, blue sodalite, and pyrite. Lapis is a soft stone 5-6 on the Moh’s scale which means it is easy to cut into cabochons and beads.

Lapis lazuli has been associated with truth, friendship and harmonious relationships. When worn next to the body lapis is said to help with headaches, sore throats and varicose veins.


Natural lapis rough from Afghanistan


Faceted and smooth lapis beads

Suggestions for using sapphire and lapis lazuli in your jewelry

Try mixing blue sapphires with black, onyx or faceted spinel, the darker color with enhance the blue color. Just a few beads? Use precious stone beads to their best advantage, an illusion knotted necklace shows off just a few lovely beads. Colorful mixed sapphire beads have warm tones, adding gold will make for a ‘rich’ design.

Lapis lazuli is often set in silver for rings, pendants and bracelets, blended with turquoise, coral, spiny oyster and sugilite in the Native American jewelry palette. Lapis is a natural mate for pyrite, in a gold-ish metallic color.

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