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December's Birthstone

"Here's a wonderful thing,
A humming-bird's wing
In hammered gold,
And store well chosen
Of snowflakes frozen
In crystal cold.

Black onyx cherries
And mistletoe berries
Of chrysoprase,
Jade buds, tight shut,
All carven and cut
In intricate ways."

~ The Fairy Goldsmith, Eleanor Wylie (1885-1928)

Happy December Birthdays! Along with traditional birthstones, Turquoise, Tanzanite, and Zircon, the "mystical" birthstone of December is Onyx, is a semi-precious stone found in many countries around the world, including Scotland! Onyx is the Greek word for “claw” or “fingernail”. According to legend, the goddess Venus was resting on the banks of the Indus River. As she slept, Cupid used the point of one of his enchanted arrows to manicure her nails. The parings of her nails fell into the waters of the sacred river, sank to the river bottom and were metamorphosed into the gemstone Onyx. Both Agate and Onyx are varieties of layered Chalcedony, a cryptocrystalline form of silica, composed of very fine intergrowths of quartz and moganite. Agate is recognized by its curved bands and onyx by its parallel bands in black and almost every colour. The banded Onyx with browns and whites such as shown in this tartan is sometimes known as Sardonyx! Onyx has been believed to give strength, banish grief, and promote vigor, steadfastness and stamina to the wearer! 🖤🤍 🤎 🎂

Although the traditional birthstones of December are usually reckoned as Turquoise, Tanzanite, or Zircon, December's "mystical" birthstone is the Onyx.

There are actually several different birthstone lists of different origin. What we think of as the modern birthstone tradition, is actually one that became popular in 15th century Poland.

Birthstones have been attributed special significance since the time of Josephus, a first-century Romano-Jewish scholar, historian and hagiographer, who believed there was a connection between the twelve stones in Aaron's (brother of Moses) breastplate, the twelve months of the year, and the twelve signs of the zodiac.

Rather than wearing their personal birthstones all year round, people believed the gems were most powerful when alternated monthly—each stone worn in its corresponding month:

The mystical birthstone list comes from 11th century Tibet and may have origins in Buddhism:

January Emerald
February Bloodstone
March Jade
April Opal
May Sapphire
June Moonstone
July Ruby
August Diamond
September Agate
October Jasper
November Pearl
December Onyx

Onyx is a chalcedony quartz that is mined in Brazil, India, California and Uruguay and many other countries. It has a fine texture and black color; however some onyx also displays white bands or ribbons against a black or brown background and this variety is known as sardonyx.

For more on the various birthstone lists, click the black onyx.

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