The lure of wearing gemstones is rich in history, and is believed to be traced back to the book of Exodus from the Bible. The breastplate, or religious garment, was worn by Aaron and contained 12 gemstones resenting the 12 tribes of Israel including such gemstones as Topaz, Emerald, Sapphire, Diamond, and Amethyst.
Through earlier centuries, the relevance of the gemstones in the breastplate was associated to the signs of the zodiac to represent the special powers of healing and therapeutic benefits. It was originally thought to keep all 12 gemstones and wear one a month to receive the benefits of each gemstone.
In 1912 the Jewelers of America, or National Association of Jewelers, adapted the list of birthstones to represent the month that you were born. There have been several updates, revisions, additions, and replacements to the list that we reference as the 12 birthstones and alternate gemstone options.
We love gemstones, and appreciate the history, and uniqueness of each gem species as a gift from nature to be valued and appreciated!
© Gemological Institute of America. Reprinted by permission.
For those who celebrate a birthday in January, Garnet is your lucky birthstone! Symbolizing a light heart, loyalty, eternal friendship, and trust, Garnet is a gemstone to be appreciated. The name Garnet is derived from the word "granatum" meaning "pomegranate seed" referring to the red color and seed-like shape of the fruit. The name also encompasses a mineral group that comes in a rainbow of colors including deep red, vibrant green, and colorless. The deep rich color of red was associated with fire, power and importance. Major sources of Garnet are found in Africa, Sri Lanka, and India. The other advantages of having Garnet as your January birthstone is that it is affordable, and a durable everyday wearing gemstone!
If you are fortunate to be born in the month of February, the beautiful Amethyst is your birthstone. The color of Amethyst is a gorgeous blend of violet and red producing a deep rich purple, although a variety of color ranges can occur in many different shades of violet. Purple is known to be the color for royalty, and many Amethysts have been known to have been worn by anarchies. The word "Amethystos" means remedy against drunkedness. The gemstone is believed to promote stability, peace, balance, courage, and inner strength. Brazil is the primary source for Amethyst, which is a gemstone that is available in a wide range of colors, sizes, and price ranges. Lucky for all you February birthdays!
If you are lucky to be born in the month of March, then your beautiful birthstone is Aquamarine! From the mineral Beryl, Aquamarine's color is usually a light pastel of greenish blue. The Aquamarine name comes from the Latin word for seawater and is said to calm waves and keep sailors safe at sea. It is sometimes referred to as a poor man's diamond because of the pale color. Yet, it can also be so brilliant in color that it can be mistaken for Blue Topaz. The most valuable combination is a clean, high clarity combined with a transparent blue-green hue, yet the more intense the blue, the greater the value! Aquamarine is beautiful in white gold or platinum with diamonds to showcase the color and is most available in emerald cuts, rounds, and ovals. Aquamarine is believed to enhance the happiness of marriage, and is celebrated the 19th wedding anniversary! Happy March birthdays and anniversaries!
Diamond, April's birthstone, is perhaps the most coveted of all gemstones because it symbolizes love and commitment. It is also best known as the token for everlasting affection. One of the hardest of all gemstones, it is believed to bring the wearer better relationships, inner strength, courage, wealth, happiness, and protection. Diamond comes from the Greek word "adamas" or "invincible" meaning that it is known for it's extreme hardness, outstanding brilliance, and clarity. Although the traditional color is white or colorless, diamonds can also occur in the rare and valuable colors of yellow, blue, green, red, and pink. Coming from the producing counties of South Africa, Botswana, Zaire, and Nanibia, diamond is known for it's rich past history, it's importance in the present, and the continued success in the future!
Those who are fortunate to be born in the month of May appreciate that the color of green Emerald represents loyalty, faithfulness, and friendship. Emeralds vary in color from light to deep green depending on the internal characteristics which are called "jardin" or garden. The meaning of the color green represents many aspects of renewed life: social, religious, or biblical. The May birthstone is represented as one of the most valuable gemstones mined from Spain, Egypt, and Brazil. Emerald comes from the valuable species of the beryl family which also includes Aquamarine. It is a fragile gemstone that is not meant for everyday wearing, and requires attention and special care. In addition to being the birthstone for May, it is also the gemstone for the 35th wedding anniversary.
If you celebrate a birthday in June, you have three choices of birthstones. Although the most widely accepted birthstone is Pearl, there are also the options of Moonstone and Alexandrite.
Pearl is the only gem that comes from living sea creatures and requires no polishing to reveal its natural beauty. They are created when an irritant is placed into the inner shell layers of an oyster, which then reacts by coating with many layers of nacre. The thicker the nacre layers and more translucence, luster, and spherical shape, the more valuable and desirable the pearl. The Japanese waters are best know for producing pearls, and they have been long considered as a benefit to health and longevity. White or cream are the most recognized colors of pearls, yet other colors such as champagne, pink, gray, brown, and black are available.
Moonstone is linked to the Roman historian, Pliny, that felt its appearance was altered by the phases of the moon with a silvery glow and reflection. Moonstone is believed to be a sacred stone in India and is to bring good fortune, and comes in a variety of colors.
Alexandrite is both a rare and valuable gemstone with a rich history. Named after Prince Alexander of Russia who later became the Czar, it is most often seen as synthetic stones. Chameleon-like in appearance, genuine stones can have a color change from green in daylight to a reddish-violet in artificial lighting. If gemstones are genuine they are difficult to find, mostly found in small sizes, and the color change is not distinct.
If you were born in the month of July or are celebrating your 15th or 40th wedding anniversary, then Ruby is your gemstone. One of the most rare and valuable of all gemstones, Ruby has a rich history and legacy as it mentioned in the Bible. Coming from the Latin word meaning red, it was thought to be a fire burning within the stone. In the ancient language of Sanskit, Ruby is called the "King of precious stones," and is a gemstone that signifies wisdom, beauty, health, and wealth. The color of red emits emotions of love, passion, and anger, yet the beauty and purity of its color also determines the value. The most desirable color of Ruby is a medium to dark vivid red or slight hint of purplish red. All Rubies are red, any other color would be considered Sapphire, which are also from the gemstone family of Corundum. The hardness of Ruby makes it an excellent choice for everyday wear and longevity, and all styles of jewelry. Ruby comes from many countries including Thailand, India, Madagascar, and Zimbawe.
For those born in the month of August, Peridot is your birthstone. The unique green color of Peridot distinguishes it from other gemstones, yet through history it was often mistaken for Emerald or Tourmaline. Legend has it that it was the favorite gemstone of Cleopatra, and was often called "evening emerald" because of the bright sparkle and beauty reflected among the night lights. The color of Peridot varies from a lime to a yellowish olive green, with the most desirable colors being bright and lively. Peridot comes from the Greek word "faridat" meaning gem, and it is mined mostly in Egypt. Known as "the poor man's emerald," it is believed to bring fame, dignity, protection, and success!
The beautiful rich blue of Sapphire makes it one of the most desirable of all birthstones. Sapphire is the birthstone for September, and the anniversary gemstone for the 5th and 45th anniversaries. The color of blue can vary from a light, to a greenish or violetish blue. There are many differing colors of blue which can bear a different name, such as cornflower blue. All sapphires are from the gem family of corundum, yet the most prized and highly sought after color is a medium to dark vivid blue with flashes of violet. The gem species of corundum also occur in all colors of the rainbow, many of which can be both rare and valuable, known as fancy Sapphires.
The symbolic meaning of the color blue has a Biblical meaning of Heavenly grace and blessings. Sapphire is said to represent the purity of the soul through truth, sincerity, faithfulness, peacefulness, and constancy. It is a gemstone that has been worn through the years by clergy and the priesthood.
Sapphire has long been associated with royalty and romance. This popularity was reinforced in 1981 when Britain's Prince Charles gave a beautiful, large, and valuable Sapphire engagement ring to Lady Diana Spencer. After Princess Di's death, her Sapphire ring was presented to Kate Middleton several years ago as her engagement ring from Diana's son, Prince William.
It is an extremely durable gemstone, that be worn and enjoyed. Sapphire is found in many different countries such as Sri Lanka, Thailand, Burma, Kenya, Madagascar, and Tanzania. If you were born in the month of September, you have a birthstone to be appreciated and treasured!
The gorgeous changing colors of Fall remind us of the beauty of October's birthstone, Opal. A kaleidoscope of color from milky white to black with flashes of yellow, orange, green, red, and blue, make up the uniqueness of the gemstone. It displays a play of color against a background which has been compared to volcanoes, galaxies, fireworks, and flashes of lightning falling from Heaven. In Ancient Rome, it symbolized love and hope and was given the name "opalus" meaning precious stone. Opal is thought to be one of the luckiest of all birthstones because it gives a palette of colors. All Opals are considered to be fragile gemstones that require both care in wearing, and protection in storing separately from your other jewelry. It should be worn on occasions, rather than for everyday. Also remember to protect your Opal jewelry from sudden changes in temperatures and chemicals that could damage or crack the gemstones. Treat them with love and care to let their beauty to continue to glow through the years!
For those born in the month of November, your birthstones are the gemstones of Topaz and Citrine. Similar in color and origin, they are unique and different gemstones. Topaz has a history of being misidentified because its color can be similar to other gems, including Citrine and "smoky quartz". It comes in a wide range of colors such as brown, blue, green, yellow, or pink. The most prized and valuable is the Imperial Topaz, which is a medium reddish orange to an orange red. Found in the Ural Mountains in Russia, it was considered to be the royal family jewel of the Czar of Russia. The name "Topazios" is an old Greek name for the small island from the Red Sea. Topaz is found in Brazil, Sri Lanka, Africa, and China. It is believed to give strength, break spells, improve eyesight, control anger, and restore energy. The Topaz gemstone is most often available cut in the oval or pear shape. It is a delicate gemstone that should be worn with care, in a mounting with protection, and should be kept apart from other gemstones and jewelry to avoid scratching or breakage. It is also the suggested gemstone for the 23rd wedding anniversary.
The alternative gemstone to Topaz is Citrine that offers a more durable, affordable, and availability of options in both shapes and sizes. Coming from the French word for lemon, "citron," it is a sunny gemstone that comes in colors from pale yellow, gold, to brownish orange. The finest colors are saturated yellow to reddish orange, but with few tints of brown. It is found in large sizes, and is easily adaptable to unusual cuts and gemstone carvings. The main sources of origin for Citrine are Brazil and Zambia.
If your birthday is in the last month of the calendar year, you can choose from three birthstones, Blue Zircon, Turquoise, or Tanzanite.
Zircon is a gemstone that is not as well known, yet it has a long and important history. Derived from the Arabic words "zar" and "gun," it is a fiery gem that can be rivaled only by a few for it's reflective qualities and outstanding brilliance. The colors of Zircon can range from blue, yellow, orange, brown, green, or colorless, to the most prized color of all which is red. The December birthstone displays the beauty of blue that can be from a light to deep intense turquoise blue, with the more intense color being the most valuable. It is a hard and durable gemstone, yet it needs to be protected from abrasion, scratching, and chipping against other jewelry. Zircon is believed to aid in getting sleep, bringing prosperity, and promoting honor and wisdom. The major sources of Zircon are Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam.
Turquoise is one of the oldest and best known of all the types of opaque gemstones, Turquoise is both beautiful and affordable, and is known for being a charm of good luck and safe keeping. The name means "Turkish stone" because of the trade route of the gemstone brought through Turkey. The most valued color is the "robins egg blue," which is pure and devoid of any matrix, and was worn by the Pharaohs and early Native Americans. It is a soft gemstone with texture, and often contains a matrix which gives it a lot of character.
In 2002, Tanzanite was added to the list of December birthstones, and was the first addition by the American Gemstone Trade Association since 1912. Tanzanite is an exotic blue brilliantly combined with a hint of purple. It is a gemstone that is often given the permanent heat treatment to enhance the color. Tanzanite is mined only in Tanzania.