Found only in Tanzania near Mount Kilimanjaro, this gem is the blue to violet to purple variety of the mineral zoisite. The rare stone is pleochroic, meaning that when it’s tilted, you will see three distinct colors in three crystal directions, alternately appearing sapphire blue, violet or more burgundy depending on the tilt. While a deep saturated blue is the most valuable color of tanzanite, paler tones are more affordable. According to a Tanzanian geologist, the circumstances that led to the stone’s formation 585 million years ago were so exceptional that the likelihood of finding tanzanite anywhere else on earth is one in a million, making it a thousand times rarer than diamonds.
Turquoise is one of the world’s oldest recognized gems, and it is loved by ancient desert peoples from the Egyptians to Native Americans of the southwestern U.S. The stone forms in arid areas where acidic, copper-rich groundwater seeps downward and reacts with minerals that contain phosphorus and aluminum. This gem offers its wearers a cool palette of color from which to choose. Its soft, carvable structure makes it a natural choice for free-form shapes, inlays, beads and cabochons. In the 1950s, Van Cleef & Arpels used 79 stunning Persian turquoise stones to update an existing crown that was once presented by Napoleon to his second wife on the occasion of their marriage. The original featured emeralds and diamonds.
Zircon has high luster, refractive indices and dispersion, meaning that the sparkling gem has lots of brilliance and rainbow flashes of fire. A favorite in Victorian times, the fine gems are often found in English estate jewelry. Zircon today might suffer a bit from name confusion. The natural, rare mineral is frequently confused for the laboratory-grown diamond imitation known as cubic zirconia. An emerald cut blue zircon from Thailand, weighing in at a whopping 103.20 carats, resides in the collection of the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History.
Blazing Blue Topaz
Speaking of blue, if you want to go the traditional route in birthstone buying, select the beautiful blue topaz. Created from the colorless variety of gemstone, its vivid sky blue hue is achieved by irradiating the stones with 10 million electron volts. The long-reaching love affair with the stone dates back to the ancient Greeks, who believed that topaz gave them strength, and people of India, who believed that topaz worn above the heart assured long life, beauty and intelligence.