Tanzanite is derived from the mineral Zoisite. A large amount of pleochroism lends the stone a striking luminescence and allows it to reflect a myriad of colors—blue, violet, and burgundy—when its crystals are turned in the light. A synthetic version of tanzanite, called “tanzanique,” is created from a mineral called fosterite; this man-made version lacks the distinctive pleochroism of the naturally occurring mineral.
First found in Tanzania in 1967, this striking gemstone was named for the locale of its discovery. Since then, the blue-purple stone has not been unearthed in any other region. A vast majority of the mined stone is imported into the United States for commercial sale.
Its rarity makes tanzanite a highly precious gemstone, exceeded only by rubies, emeralds, and sapphires. In 2002, it was adopted as a December birthstone in the first change to the modern birthstone chart in nearly a century.
The amethyst is a form of Quartz mineral in a pleasing violet or purple shade, a coloration created by trace amounts of iron. The stone’s hue can be altered to yellow, green, reddish-brown, or creamy white by the application of heat. Natural amethyst is mined primarily from volcanic rocks in Africa and Brazil, although it’s also found in South Korea, Uruguay, Russia, India, and Zambia.
The official February birthstone, the amethyst is the traditional gemstone for the 6th wedding anniversary. Linked to an increased sense of calm, serenity, and understanding, the stone is believed to minimize the stress and anxiety of the wearer. In ancient times, the Greeks believed the amethyst helped to prevent intoxication from alcoholic beverages—in fact, its name is derived from the Greek words a and methustos, which translate to “not intoxicated.” In medieval times, European soldiers wore amethysts in their armor to shield them from shrapnel.
Its wide-ranging color spectrum makes topaz a highly versatile stone for fine jewelry applications. In its purest form, topaz is clear in color, although it is most commonly found in a yellow shade. Other variations include blue, green, gray, white, reddish-yellow, and pink. Due to its rarity, red or pink topaz is given the highest market value. Most topaz stones sold today are treated with heat to enhance their natural colorations. When heated, yellow topaz changes to a reddish-pink.
Mined primarily in Sri Lanka, Germany, Brazil, Mexico, and the United States, topaz is comprised of the minerals aluminum and fluorine. Typically found in a crystallized form in caves and lava deposits, topaz can sometimes be found in large deposits weighing hundreds of pounds.
Topaz gets its name from the Greek island of St. John’s in the Red Sea, which was formally known as Topázios. The traditional anniversary stone for the 4th year of marriage, topaz is the birthstone for the month of November.