Each month of the year is represented by a special stone, or in some cases, a few special stones. These unique and dazzling gems are referred to as birthstones.
The origin of birthstones can be traced back to biblical times in which the breastplate of Aaron was believed to contain twelve gemstones, one for each of the twelve tribes of Israel.
Today, birthstones are very common in all manner of jewelry. This guide will discuss the birthstone or stones associated with each month and the special history and meaning behind each stone.
Your Birthstone and Its Meaning
January Birthstone - Garnet
January’s birthstone is garnet. Garnet is most commonly associated with a beautiful deep red color. However, garnets can come in a variety of colors including yellow, orange, and green.
The name garnet is derived from the Latin word “Garanatus” which literally means “seedlike”. It is thought that this is in reference to a pomegranate seed, a fitting comparison to garnet.
Pomegranates have long been associated with passion and romance. In Greek times presenting another person with a pomegranate symbolized your love for them. It is understandable then that garnets are a popular gem choice for anniversary gifts.
Historically, garnets were used for healing. In medieval times, these stones were thought to be a cure for depression and nightmares. Garnet was also a potent protectant against poisons.
Garnet symbolizes peace, prosperity, and good health. This is an appropriate tone for the first year of the month, a time when most people are wishing one another peace, prosperity, and good health for the new year.
February Birthstone - Amethyst
Babies born in February will have amethyst as their birthstone. This sparkling gem is a variation of quartz. Its purple hue can range from pale lavender to deep eggplant. Amethyst comes in many colors, cuts, and sizes. It is not rare, and its availability makes it quite affordable.
The gem has been found and cited all the way back to 2000 B.C. Amethysts long history is full of uses, myths, and symbolism. Purple has long signified royalty, resulting in English nobles adorning themselves with amethysts in the Middle Ages.
Amethyst also held a special place within religion. Believed to be a symbol for the deity of Christ, clergymen and church officials often wore it. It is also thought to be one stone on the breastplate of Aaron.
Amethyst is most associated with a clear and sound mind. Romans and Greeks believed the jewel would ward off the intoxicating powers of Bacchus, the god of wine, and enable the wearer to be “quick-witted”.
Similarly, Leonardo da Vinci claimed that amethysts helped to quicken an individual’s intelligence. Once a prized gemstone, being coveted as much as diamonds, amethysts are now frequently used in jewelry.
March Birthstone - Aquamarine and Bloodstone
March is one month that has not one, but two birthstones, aquamarine, and bloodstone. Aquamarine is a gleaming turquoise while bloodstone, a form of jasper, is a dark green stone with red-colored inclusions.
Aquamarine is named after its marine-like characteristics and the feelings it evokes. Aqua meaning water and marina meaning sea. The stone is somewhat rare but comes in a variety of sizes and cuts. Its hue can vary from bluish-green to pale-blue.
Understandably, because of its namesake, the gemstone is thought to protect sailors. The stone was believed to guarantee a safe voyage to those traveling by boat. Similarly, early societies, such as the Sumerians, would have their warriors wear it into battle to ensure a victory.
Aquamarines supposed healing and protective powers continued on into the Roman period and then the Medieval Ages. Romans would carve frog symbols into the gem to soothe their enemies and reconcile differences. Medieval patrons wore it as a “literal antidote to poisons”.
Aquamarine today is associated with tranquility, never-ending unity, and level-headedness.
Bloodstone, the month’s other birthstone, is a rich green with red flecks due to the iron deposits found within the stone. It is harvested from other rocks or found as pebbles in rivers and streams.
Bloodstone was always thought to have strong magical powers. Greeks believed that the sun would turn red if the stone was placed in a container of water, referring to it as “heliotrope”, which translates to “to turn the sun”.
Bloodstones powers were believed to lie in healing and divination. Babylonians wore this jewelry to heal a variety of ailments and increase their strength. Egyptians astonishingly believed that the stone had the power to make them invisible.
Bloodstone can be found in ancient amulets, dining services, and statues. Its inclusion was believed to give the owner strength, prophecy, fortune in legal battles, and even the ability to change the weather.
Though less dazzling than aquamarine, bloodstone is still chosen as a lucky charm today.
April Birthstone - Diamond
The diamond represents those born in April. One of the most regarded stones today, diamonds are composed of carbon and are extremely durable.
Natural diamond creation is a lengthy process involving tons of pressure from the earth’s crust to form the carbon into a jewel. Diamonds are so tough, that they can only be cut with other diamonds.
Diamonds occur naturally worldwide. They were believed to have first been discovered around 6000 years ago. Borneo was discovered to have diamonds as early as 600 AD.
It is no surprise then that this lustrous jewel has been traded since 4 B.C. Because of its striking appearance, early humans believed that it was lightning in a physical form on earth. These physical representations of power and electricity were thought to have intense healing capabilities. They believed that diamonds could cure brain, blood, and gland disorders.
Diamonds are commonly used for engagement rings and wedding bands today. A tradition carried on through the ages as eternal love has long been associated with this stone. However, diamonds have not only to be worn in a representation of marriage if you are an April baby.
May Birthstone - Emerald
Those with May birthdays receive Emerald as their birthstone. These lush green stones are named aptly for their color. Emerald can be traced to the Medieval Latin word “esmaraldus”.
Though found all over the world, emeralds are still expensive stones. The darker the green, especially those with a blue hue, the rarer the stone.
Emeralds are an old gem, dating back to 330 BC at which time they were being mined in Egypt. Egyptians adored these stones which invoke thoughts of a desert oasis. Cleopatra loved them so much that at one time, she laid claim to all of Egypt’s emerald mines.
Emerald mines were also located in Columbia and greatly cherished by both the country’s native populations and the invading Spaniards. Egyptians, Columbians and the conquistadors alike believed emeralds held healing and restorative powers.
Emeralds were thought to protect you in the afterlife, staunch bleeding, decrease panic, and cure epilepsy and stomach ailments. Today, emerald represents loyalty more than they do relaxation and security. Nevertheless, they are still coveted and gorgeous stones.
June Birthstone – Pearl, Alexandrite, and Moonstone
June has three birthstones associated with it. These gems are pearl, alexandrite, and moonstone. Pearls rarely come to mind when you think of a gemstone, but they are actually the only gemstone produced by living creatures.
Pearls are produced when a grain of sand becomes trapped inside a mollusk. In order to stop the irritation caused by the sand, the mollusk layers it with calcium. The result is an iridescent white pearl.
Naturally occurring pearls are more valuable than cultured, or man-made, pearls. Most pearls produced by mollusks are white with an opalescent sheen. Black pearls can occur naturally but are exceedingly rare. Cultured pearls can be purple, yellow, brown, blue, green, or black.
These beautiful gems are one of the most commonly seen jewelry adornments throughout history. The Greeks believed pearls were the tears of the gods, while in Japan they were thought to be the tears of mermaids and other fantasy creatures.
Once only a gem royalty could afford, the advent of cultured pearls has made them available to nearly everyone.
Alexandrite is believed to have been discovered in 1834, much more recently than other gemstones. It is a color changing stone, appearing as blue-green in one light and reddish-purple in another.
First mined in Russia, alexandrite is said to be named after Tsar Alexander II. Russian mines were quickly emptied of their alexandrite and operations were moved to Sri Lanka and East Africa. As a result, alexandrite is rarer than diamonds.
High quality naturally occurring alexandrite may be difficult to come by, but fortunately for June birthdays it can be lab manufactured and is widely available.
Moonstone comes in many colors, each one shimmering with a moon-like opalescence. Named by the Romans, it’s ever-changing appearance was compared to the phases of the moon.
They used it as a religious symbol in the worship of lunar deities. Other cultures believed when worn as a talisman it could ward off bad dreams and provide a peaceful night’s sleep.
Whichever birthstone you chose, it will look dazzling in any piece of jewelry.
July Birthstone - Ruby
July’s birthstone is the ruby. Rubies can be found in shades from pale pink to deep maroon. Naturally occurring rubies are often either low quality or not very large, making them rarer than diamonds.
Rubies are known as the “king” of gemstones. Chinese nobles frequently wore them for protection. Burmese warriors did the same, adorning their armor with them and even implanting them into their skin.
Rubies are also symbolic of love and passion. Hindus thought due to their fiery and glowing nature that rubies could boil water.
Burmese rubies are considered the most valuable, distinguishable by their deep red color. Historical Burmese mines were excavated to exhaustion and ruby mining moved to Myanmar.
Today, rubies are synthetically created. The Myanmar variations lack the burning red color and are heat treated to resemble the characteristics of Burmese rubies.
Fiery rubies are a fitting birthstone for a month that occurs during the blazing heat of summer.
August Birthstone - Peridot and Sardonyx
Peridot is the birthstone most commonly associated with August, though sardonyx is the traditional birthstone.
Sardonyx is a layered stone of orangish-red and whites, though hues can range from a yellowish-red to a brownish-red.
Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans all cherished sardonyx. For ancient cultures, the stone represented bravery, protection, and victory.
One unique characteristic is that melted wax will not adhere to the stone. Because of this, it commonly adorned signet rings that were used to sign and seal official documents.
Sardonyx is not rare and has always been a stone for the people as well as nobles. Peridot, once expensive, is now quite affordable.
Before Kashmir peridots were discovered in the 1990s, this light, springtime-green was mined only on a small volcanic island found in the Red Sea.
Egyptians thought that it controlled nature and associated it with the sun, wearing it to ward off the dangers of dark nights.
Egyptians and people all the way through the medieval period often confused peridot with emerald, encrusting their shrines with it. It is rumored that Cleopatra’s renowned emerald collection may have actually been peridot.
Sardonyx and peridot are both beautiful and affordable birthstones for the month of August.
September - Sapphire
September babies get to wear dazzling sapphire. This gemstone occurs in nearly every color, except red, though we typically associate it with a royal blue hue.
Sapphires have long been adored for their believed connection with the divine. Greeks wore them when conversing with oracles.
Citizens during the Middle Ages thought sapphire provided them with wisdom and divine favor and represented the heavens.
Hebrews, Christians, and Buddhists all associated sapphires with religion as well. Using it during worship and believing it adorned their historical biblical texts. Early Christians thought the Ten Commandments stones were set with sapphires.
There are many famous sapphires such as the Star of Adam and the Star of Bombay. Sapphires also saw a rise in popularity when they were chosen for Princess Diana’s engagement ring in the early 1980s.
Naturally occurring sapphires are highly sought after. Fortunately, in 1902, synthetic ones were created making them affordable and available for those with a September birthday.
October — Opal and Tourmaline
October is yet another month with two birthstones, opal, and tourmaline. Opals can be either black or white, but both colors contain flecks of shimmering silica. These flecks give opals a constantly changing and rainbow-like effect.
Top quality opals are commonly sourced from Australia. Opals can come in different varieties such as Boulder Opals and Fire Opals.
The aboriginal people native to Australia believe the rocks are the left behind imprints of the Earth’s creator when he ventured to the planet in the form of a rainbow.
Opals were long believed to be a lucky stone. Those of the Middle Ages claimed it possessed the powers of each gemstone that was reflected in its shimmer. However, today opals can also be associated with bad luck.
This is largely due to a late 1800s book in which a princess wore an opal. For this, her moods changed as frequently as the sheen of the stone. When her opals powers were removed, the princess perished.
Today a common myth is that anyone without an October birthday risks bad luck by wearing an Opal.
Tourmaline, like sapphire, can be found in nearly every shade of the rainbow, even black. Like opals tourmalines, origin myth concerns rainbows. Egyptians claimed the stone rose from the Earth’s core and on its way passed through a rainbow, resulting in its many colors.
Tourmaline was said to be a protective stone, shielding the wearer from toxins, pollutants, and evil forces. Both tourmaline and opal are strikingly colorful, making great choices for birthstone jewelry.
November — Citrine and Topaz
November birthstones are citrine and topaz, two stones that invoke the feeling of autumn. Citrine can be as dark as brownish-orange or as light as a pale yellow. It very closely resembles Novembers other birthstone, Topaz.
They prized citrine throughout history for its calming and soothing qualities. These tranquil stones were made into jewelry and talismans.
As with most stones, it is thought to have protective qualities. It is believed to be able to ward off evil thoughts and protect you against venomous snakes.
The name citrine is derived from the French word for citrus, a fitting title considering its lemony characteristics.
Topaz can also be yellow in color, but this is not its pure form. Pure topaz is colorless, while impurities can change it to a wide variety of hues. Precious topaz is a brownish-amber, the shade most commonly associated with the gem.
It used to be thought that any yellow colored stone was Topaz, and citrine and topaz were often confused. Because of this, citrine and topaz share many of the same capabilities concerning supernatural powers. Topaz was coveted for its ability to soothe anger and provide healing.
Pure topaz is able to be synthetically altered to appear blue. Because of this inexpensive process, blue tinted topaz is one of the least pricey gems on the market.
Citrine or topaz perfectly complement the warm fall hues of November.
December- Tanzanite, Zircon, and Turquoise
December is one of two months to have three birthstones; Tanzanite, Zircon, and Turquoise. All three stones are blue.
Tanzanite is blueish-purple but can have a naturally occurring brown tint. We only discovered tanzanite in 1967, it was found by Maasai herders in Tanzania. It was believed at first to be a deposit of sapphires but was later confirmed to be tanzanite.
Naturally occurring tanzanite may prove to be short-lived, as the mines are not large. It is suspected that the sources of this sought after gem could be depleted in under thirty years' time.
Zircon is most common in a reddish-brown hue, but blue is the most prized. It can also be found naturally in shades of red, orange, yellow, and green. Zircon is the oldest of all the birthstones, 4.4 billion years old to be exact.
Its charms include the ability to promote sleep and prosperity while staving off evil. Victorian nobles frequently wore zircon. They have found smoky zircon adorning many pieces of their mourning jewelry. Blue zircon has replaced smoky zircon as the most popular gem color.
Turquoise can vary in color from a greenish blue to a bright cerulean. As the stone was originally sourced from Persia, now modern day Iran, it is colloquially known as Persian Blue.
Turquoise has been worn for thousands of years. Egyptians frequently used the stone to encrust their coffins, talismans, and jewelry. Persian palace domes were set with hundreds of turquoise stones, resemblant of the heavens.
Native Americans also prized turquoise. Shamans used it to converse with the sky spirit, while warriors inlaid it into weapons to improve their accuracy. Turquoise has long been believed to possess protective powers.
All three beautiful blue gemstones are stunning and perfect in color for the cooler month of December.
A Stone for Each Month of the Year
Every birthstone has attractive and unique qualities. They all have a diverse history of rituals, myths, and superstitions. No matter which month you were born in, you are sure to have a dazzling birthstone to adorn your jewelry.