Turquoise and zircon are December birthstones 

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For the charm-struck, ancient legends offer two precious stones which may be worn to guard you from evil and improve your fortune.

One of these is turquoise, said to bring success in love and money; the other, zircon, was known in medieval times as a cure for plague and other ills.

The most popular times were during the late 1960s.  American Indian jewelry was powerfully in vogue and turquoise, the gem most associated with it, was hot.

Both gems have histories which lead back to distant lands and the earliest civilizations.  Turquoise jewelry belonging to Queen Zer of the First Egyptian Dynasty has been uncovered.  In the Victorian era, the turquoise enjoyed tremendous popularity in children’s jewelry and was set in lockets, bib pins and finger rings for girls.

The finest turquoise, known as “Persian Turquoise,” a magnificent powder blue, comes from the famous mines near Nishapur in the province of Khorasa, Iran.  However, New Mexico and other sections of the southwest United States have yielded similar Turquoise as well as the greenish-blue shade.

Because turquoise in porous and soft, we recommend removing a ring before washing your hands, as the soap and water may in time affect its color. It is brittle and soft, so use in rings, unless infrequently worn, is impractical.  They are more suited in pins, earrings, bracelets and pendants.

Due to their name similarity, many people assume that zircon, a natural diamond substitute, and cubic zirconia, a manmade diamond simulant, are one and the same—or closely related. They are not.

Zircons come in many colors, the popular and exciting being a rich blue. Other colors include orange, yellow, red and green. Today, the chief sources of zircons are the gravel-beds of Cambodia and Sri Lanka.

Cos Altobelli is a third generation jeweler and president of Altobelli Jewelers in Burbank, previously located in North Hollywood for 60 years. His specialty is appraising for all functions and acting as an expert witness. He holds a graduate degree from the Gemological Institute of America and the title of Certified Gemologist Appraiser from the American Gem Society. He is the author of three appraisal books and has appeared on ABC-TV’s “Prime Time Live.” Altobelli can be reached at (818) 763-5151.


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