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BIRTHSTONES BY MONTH

What are the origins of birthstones?

Spoiler alert: The exact origins remain unknown. However one of the longest-held beliefs is that the tradition of birthstones originated from the time of Moses.

Earliest Recorded Beginnings

It is said that 12 gemstones decorated the Jewish High Priest’s breastplate of Aaron, at the time of Moses. The plate was a ceremonial religious garment set with twelve gemstones that represented the twelve tribes of Israel, and are first described in the Book of Exodus.

“..and thou shall set in it, settings of stones, even four rows of stones: the first row shall be a sardius, a topaz, and a carbuncle; this shall be the first row. And the second row shall be an emerald, a sapphire, and a diamond. And the third row a ligure, an agate, and an amethyst”.

A Sardius, as referred to in the above passage, is known today as a carnelian. Carbuncle is an ancient name from what is likely to be called ruby or garnet. Finally, it is thought that figure refers to a zircon, or quartz crystal, though opinions can vary. Whilst it is easy to believe that the breastplate of Aaron is the beginning of birthstones, the truth is that birthstones may be far older than this representation of them. 
 
So What Exactly is a Birthstone? 
A gemstone that is usually precious or semi-precious and linked with one of the months of the year. This is slightly different to zodiac stones, which are linked to star signs and do not run from the first day of the month to the end of the month, but rather from around the 12th of the month to the 20th of the following month. 

Furthermore, birthstones roughly fall into traditional gemstones used to represent the month, and modern birthstones, which is a modern take on gemstones for each month- a set of stones believed to have been invented and popularised in the victorian era. Perhaps due to being easier to get hold of/ priced better for consumption? Or for another unknown reason.

What can be said though that the use of birthstones in jewellery is both a celebration of the birth month of a persona and one of many ways to tell the story of a person. It tells the world something about them and helps make them stand out from the crowd as a person born in that month. If one believes in the characteristics given to those born in a given month then the birthstone may also give others another clue about the virtues of the person wearing the birthstone and their personality. 

Its up to you what you believe to be true about birthstones and the virtues attached with them and whether they apply to you, but what can definitively be said about them is that birthstones are beautiful gemstones that have been treasured through time and make wonderful gifts. 

Your own birthstone can be worn, or the ones of important people in your life such as a spouse or children, grandchildren, or even a beloved pet. Some even say it’s lucky to wear the birthstone of your birth month. Whatever you believe, have fun with them, and if you feel they relate to the person you are then all the better. 

 

Below you will find the modern list of birthstones most widely used today and most are readily available to buy in jewellery. 

Modern Birthstones by Month

January

February

March

April

May

June

July

August

September

October

November

December

Garnet

Amethyst

Aquamarine (Blue Topaz as a substitute)

Diamond  (White Topaz as a substitute)

Emerald

Pearl / Alexandrite/ Moonstone

Ruby

Peridot

Sapphire

Opal / Tourmaline

Citrine

Tanzanite / Turquoise/ Blue Zircon

Birthstone Information

January

Garnet

Latin name: Granatum – seed, due to resembling a pomegranate seed.

About: official birthstone for January since 2012 (adopted by the ANAJ- American National Association of Jewellers). Also zodiac stone for Aquarius.

Folklore: Said to have powers of healing, strength and protection and is often worn to relieve inflammations of the skin. Said to regulate heart and blood flow, as well as easing depression. 

February

Amethyst

About: Deep purple gemstone with a long history both worn in jewellery and used to adorn metalwork including cups and dinnerwear.

 

Folklore: Most famously believed by the ancient Romans to cure drunkenness.

March

Aquamarine

 

Blue Topaz

About: Pale blue sparkly gemstone, whose colour is likened to the colour of the ocean.

About: Available in an array of colours, though most desired in blue tones including the London blue, Swiss blue and Sky blue.

April

Diamond

 

Topaz

Diamond

About: Sparkling gemstone available in several colours such as white, brown and yellow. But most commonly seen in semi-transparent white.

Topaz

About: Available in an array of colours, though most desired in blue tones including the London blue and Swiss Blue, with White Topaz as a popular runner up.

May
 
Emerald
Greek Name: Smargados, meaning ‘green stone’.
 
About: distinct rich green stone seen in the jewellery of royal crowns and royal jewellery.
 
Folklore: Linked to youth, growth and intelligence. Bringer of joy.

June

Pearl

 

 

Alexandrite

 

 

Pearl

About: A milky white shiny organic gem that comes from inside the shells of sea molluscs.

“The pearl is the queen of gems and the gem of queens,”- author unknown.

Alexandrite

About: A rare colour changing gemstone. Changes from green in daylight, to a purple-red hue in incandescent or artificial light.

July

Ruby

About: Bright blood red gemstone.

Folklore: Linked with love from the earliest times, also health and wisdom.

August

Peridot

 
About: Light green toned stone thats very clear.  National gem of Egypt.  
  • Stone for the Zodiac sign of Libra.
  • Mining of this gemstone is believed to pre-date 1500 BC.  It is the ‘national gem’ in Egypt. Ancient Egyptians believed that this was a gem of the sun. These days the USA is the main supplier.  

Folklore: Linked to success, health, and peace of mind, also good luck and safety, health, protection, and sleep. Attract love and calm anger while also soothing nerves and dispelling negative emotions.

 

September

Sapphire

 
About: Includes ruby, (which is actually a red sapphire).
  • One of the stones for the Zodiac signs of Pisces, Taurus, Virgo and Sagittarius.
  • Some stones also have a characteristic called an asterism- these are star sapphires.
  • Available in an incredible range of colours and tones, such as blue, pink, yellow, orange, green and purple. 
  • For centuries they have adorned royalty and the robes of the clergy.
  • The ancient elite of Greece and Rome believed that blue sapphires protected their owners from harm and envy.
  • Clerics of the Middle Ages wore sapphires as a symbol of heaven.
  • Ancient Persians believed the earth rested on a giant sapphire, which made the sky blue.
 
 

October

Opal

 

Tourmaline

 

Opal

About: milky blue-white gemstone with an unusual and eyecatching opalescent sheen.

 

Tourmaline

About:  Also the gemstone for the Zodiac sign of Leo.

Folklore: Ancient lore says that Tourmaline is found in all colours because it travelled along a rainbow and gathered all of the rainbow’s colours as it went by

  • .Believed to strengthen body and spirit, especially the nervous system, blood, and lymph.
  • Thought to inspire creativity and was used extensively as a talisman by artists and writers.

November

Citrine

About: Vibrant golden yellow gemstone.

 

Folklore: Linked to courage and bravery.

December

Tanzanite

 

Turquoise

 

 

Tanzanite

About: Beautiful purplish-blue gemstone originally found in Tanzania.

 

Turquoise

About: Bright and eye-catching opaque blue/green gemstone. Featured often in Native American jewellery and bohemian style designs.

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