December Birthstone – Turquoise

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Turquoise fact file

Crystal Structure: minute triclinic crystals
Chemical Composition: hydrous phosphate of aluminum and copper CuO.3Al2O3.2P2O5.9H2O
Hardness: 5-6 MOHS

Refractive Index: 1.61 to 1.65
Colors: Opaque, dark to light blue, different ranges of green

Those born in December have the maximum choice. They can choose from three december birthstones – Turquoise, Lapis Lazuli, Blue Zircon


The term turquoise is probably derived from the French turquois (Turkish stone). The name appears both with a final “e” (turquoise) and without the final “e” (turquois).

Physical and Chemical Properties

Chemical composition

Turquoise is a hydrous phosphate of aluminum and copper CuO.3Al2O3.2P2O5.9H2O. Turquoise may be a weathering product of the mineral apatite, or it may even include some organic phosphate. Turquoise is fairly hard, 5-6 on a scale of 10. It may be chalky to brittle, the latter showing a conchoidal fracture. Better rough grades may have a waxy luster whereas lower grades are dull. The chalky material is often impregnated with a resin to make it more durable and more lustrous. The resin-treated turquois can usually be detected by odor. The specific gravity ranges from about 2.60 to 2.83. This December birthstone is almost always opaque but rare, translucent stones are known to exist. The refractive indexes range from 1.61 on the low end to 1.62 in the middle and 1.65 on the high side of the scale. It is biaxial positive and has a fairly high dispersion. Optical tests are usually not needed to determine if a stone is turquoise as physical tests will almost always suffice.


Turquoises are opaque unless they are found in very thin pieces. Colors include dark to light blue due to the copper and different ranges of green from iron.

Healing Properties and Interesting Information


Strengthens and aligns all chakras, meridians and subtle bodies. Brings communication to emotional issues, creativity and intuition. Protection during astral travel. Used for spiritual attunement, healing and cleansing the chakras and physical body.

Where Found

Most turquoise has been found in deeply weathered and altered rhyolitic volcanic rocks. Turquoise may form as chalky coatings or finely disseminated crystals in small cavities and crystal interstices in the host rock. Found in igneous rock containing copper minerals. A relatively soft stone, turquoise also develops in rocks near water tables. Iran boasts some of the finest and oldest turquoises, which have been mined there as early as 5000 B.C. Turquoise is also found in the southwest region of the United States and other countries such as Egypt, China, Australia, Tibet, Mexico, and Brazil.

History, mythology

Historically, turquoise has been a very important and long used stone. It has been found among Egyptian artifacts including jewelry and decoration on tombs. In the old world, the Egyptians and Persians and Mongols valued turquoise highly. Turquoise is a very popular stone in Tibet. The Persians were extremely fond of fine, sky blue turquoise and the name “Persian Turquoise” is now applied to these stones as a color grade rather than as an indication of source area. In the New World, the Aztecs and Incas utilized turquoise but the American Indians of the Southwest have probably brought more attention to this december birthstone in recent years than any other
culture. This December birthstone is considered a gem of good fortune. Turquoise symbolized to many Native American tribes that the blue was the heavens and the green was the earth.

Buying and Caring tips

Tips for Buying Turquoise Jewelry

Prices for these gemstone range between $5 and $100 per carat for a one-carat stone.Several natural and synthetic things may be confused for turquois.

Vivianite is a hydrous ferrous phosphate, Fe3P2O8.8H2O, that may impart a blue color to fossil bones. Some of this material is sometimes offered under the trade name of bone turquois. The bluish tinge shown by many of the fossils in museum exhibits is due to the presence of vivianite. Variscite is a yellow-green to blue-green hydrous phosphate of aluminum, AlPO4.2H2O. It is much softer than turquoise and crystallizes in the orthorhombic system. Malachite, a copper carbonate, Cu2(OH)2CO3 is a very deep blue green and usually has a layered structure. Chrysocolla is a hydrous silicate of copper, CuSiO3.2H2O, that is only 2 to 4 hard and has a specific gravity of about 1.46 to 1.57. Chrysocolla may often be impregnated with or suspended in chalcedony and produce a very hard but deep blue green stone. Colored glass is often sold as a turquois substitute and it usually shows swirls, bubbles, and a conchoidal fracture. It may contain some added, pulverized pyrite or bronze foil. Plastic will have a very low specific gravity and often show bubbles. It will melt and emit an odor if a non-conspicuous point of the stone is touched with a hot needle.

Tips to take care of Turquoise Jewelry

Wipe with a soft damp cloth and dry. Do not soak or use mechanical cleaners. Avoid chemicals. Silver cleaners will cause discoloration.

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