The garnet is the first birthstone of the year, a vivid red semi-precious stone linked to people born in January. The word garnet is derived from the Latin word for seed, “granatum”, because the gemstone is reminiscent of a red pomegranate seed. The garnet has a lengthy history, often used as a talisman by tribes going into battle or individuals going on journeys, as a protective power from injury or illness. It is also known as the “Gem of Faith” because of the belief that those who wear it, and do charitable acts, will reap the benefits of their good actions by receiving prosperity, happiness, friendship, peace, and good health. On the other hand, those who wear garnet, and commit evil acts, will have bad fortune bestowed upon them.
The amethyst is the birthstone for those born in February and is usually known for having a purple color, though some amethyst stones are more pink, blue, or red depending on the cut of the stone. Amethyst is composed of a type of quartz that is often found in geodes between cooled lava. Quartz is very durable and sturdy, so it is a great gemstone for jewelry making. Not only is amethyst physically strong but it is known to possess qualities that provide the wearer with mental strength and courage. The stone is said to give clarity, calmness, and a sharp wit to those who wear it. Ancient Greeks believed the gemstone protected from drunkenness also, so much so, that the word amethyst comes from the Greek word “amethystos” meaning sober.
March: Aquamarine and Bloodstone (Heliotrope or Blood Jasper)
Those born in March have two birthstones associated with them, Aquamarine and Bloodstone, but Aquamarine is the most familiar.
Aquamarine comes in light blue-green hues, though some larger stones may have more concentrated, deeper tones to them. The commonly known light blue-green color is most reminiscent to that of the sea. Actually, the name aquamarine comes from the Latin words aqua and marina, “aqua” meaning water, and “marina” meaning the sea. Considered sacred to Neptune, Roman God of the Sea, Roman sailors believed the stone to be sacred too, guaranteeing them a safe and prosperous journey. Similarly, Greek sailors would carry talisman with Poseidon in his chariot, the Lord of the Sea, etched into the aquamarine gemstone, for protection during ocean voyages. With such strong ties to the sea, it is no wonder that aquamarine evokes the feeling of tranquility and calm, like the ocean waves washing up on a sandy beach. That is why the gemstone is a great meditation aid, thought to heighten awareness and help with communication, with both your inner-self and others.
Bloodstone, also known as blood jasper or heliotrope, is the second birthstone for March. It is a dark green stone streaked with vibrant red spots of iron oxide that resembles splattered blood, hence the name bloodstone. Many early cultures prized bloodstone as being magical and healing, believing it to cure people with blood disorders or help wounded warriors on the battlefield. Some also regard the gemstone as a martyr symbol, even giving it religious connotations, saying that the red spots on the stone represent Christ’s blood that fell from the cross onto the jasper stone below.
Though each birthstone for March may look strikingly different, they both signify the protection and improvement of the wearer’s health and well-being.
April: Crystal and Diamond
Those born in April have the most sought-after and popular gemstone, the diamond. However, due to the diamond’s costly nature, rock crystal or crystal quartz has become a popular alternative, so both are considered April birthstones.
The diamond is the hardest mineral on earth, made up of tightly formed carbon crystals; it can only be cut with another diamond. Since diamonds made from the earth are said to be millions to billions of years old, the diamond has become a symbol of everlasting love, thus their use in engagement rings. Their beautiful, colorless, and clear sparkle is also why they are prized gifts to loved ones. They are said to bring happiness to relationships and success at work. They are also said to give the wearer inner strength and peace, protecting them from negative energies.
Like diamonds, crystals are said to protect from negative energies too. They are known as healing stones, aiding in both the wearers mental and physical well being. They are thought to increase energy, mood, and boost the immune system. Crystal quartz is quite plentiful, so jewelry designers find it a cost-effective and fun option for their jewelry pieces.
The beautiful green of the emerald is what makes it the perfect birthstone for the spring month of May. It is also appropriate because the emerald is a symbol of rebirth, fertility, and new beginnings. It has long been cherished throughout history, admired by historical figures such as Aristotle, Cleopatra, and Catherine the Great. Aristotle claimed that owning an emerald could increase a person’s competence in business and grant legal victories. The emerald also signifies wisdom, some claim it can strengthen memory, even make one clairvoyant. The emerald also has a rich history in various cultures as a symbol of good luck and loyalty.
June: Pearl, Moonstone, and Alexandrite
Three birthstones are linked to the month of June, so those born in June get to choose between pearl, moonstone, and alexandrite.
The pearl is a unique birthstone for the fact that it is the only one to come from a living creature. A natural pearl is produced when an oyster, mussel, or clam cannot rid itself of an irritant within its shell, so it deposits layers of a fluid coating called nacre over it as a defense mechanism. As a result of this layering process, a shiny pearl is formed. Pearls are known to have an iridescent sheen to them and are most known for having a creamy white color. However, there are black pearls that come in shades of purple, blue, silver, and green. Pearls can also be dyed in many colors too. The pearl in many cultures is a symbol of purity, honesty, and innocence which why it is a traditional custom for brides to wear pearls on their wedding day. Due to the rarity of natural pearls, they became extremely popular with nobility and royalty, making them a symbol of wealth. But due to the development of cultured pearl farms, the pearl is now more accessible and affordable than ever for jewelry making.
Moonstone complements its fellow June birthstone the pearl because it too has a lustrous gleam to it. Roman natural historian Pliny named it moonstone, noting that the gemstone appeared different with the phases of the moon. When moved, moonstone exhibits the optical phenomenon called adularescence, which emits a bluish or milky iridescence. This is due to the dispersion of light by the microscopic layers of feldspar, a rock-forming mineral, which moonstone is composed of. Because of its enchanting look and name, moonstone is closely tied to the moon in many cultures. It is said to help with insomnia, encourage positive dreams, and protect nighttime travelers. Moonstone is also thought to enhance fertility and breed passion in new or old love.
The final birthstone for June is the rare and pricey alexandrite. It was only discovered in 1834 at a Russian emerald mine and was allegedly found on the birthday of the future Russian Czar Alexander II. The gemstone is unique due to the uncommon chemical makeup that gives it a color changing ability. Alexandrite in the daylight is bluish green and under lamp light is purplish red. Those who wear it are said to have heightened instincts and creativity.
The ruby, also dubbed the “King of Gems” is the July birthstone. The ruby is from the corundum mineral family, which includes sapphires, but the presence of the element chromium is what makes it red, therefore distinguishing it as a ruby. Chromium is also what causes fluorescence in the ruby, making it seem like the gem is producing a red glow. In earlier times, many thought an internal flame lit the ruby, so it became synonymous with love and passion. The ruby is also thought to bring the wearer protection, courage, vitality, and riches, which is why many warriors would adorn themselves with them during battles.
August: Peridot, Sardonyx, and Spinel
August is another month represented by three birthstones, so those born in August can choose between Peridot, Sardonyx, or Spinel.
Peridot is one of the few gemstones found in one color, lime green, but it can be in differing shades with more yellow or olive hints to it. Formed due to volcanic activity, peridot is also known as “the evening emerald” because it retains a beautiful light green glow at all times of the day. Peridot’s green truly stands out when paired with sterling silver findings in jewelry pieces. Many believe this gem helps with depression and brings happiness and peace. It is also said to protect the wearer from nightmares and ward off evil.
Sardonyx is made up of two types of chalcedony, orange carnelian and onyx, when they layer together to form a reddish type stone with white stripes. This gemstone is thought to make the wearer more articulate. During the Renaissance it was popular to see public orators wear them, to help them communicate clearly and be more persuasive.
Spinal is the last gemstone for August and is often mistaken for rubies or sapphires because it can be found in red, blue, pink, and orange. Spinal is said to bring inspiration to the wearer and re-energize them.
Those with September birthdays usually think of their birthstone, the sapphire, in its signature blue color, but sapphires can come in all shades of the rainbow, with the exception of red, which is categorized as ruby. Sapphires were fashionable with royalty and clergymen because they were thought to bring integrity, discipline, loyalty, and sincerity. It is thought the blue color attracted heavenly guidance that would lead one onto a virtuous path.
October: Opal and Tourmaline
Those with October birthdays are represented by two very distinct birthstones, Opal and Tourmaline.
Opals are composed of tiny silica spheres that, when shined with light, produce a kaleidoscope of colors. Because the rainbow of colors can shift and change with the light, the opal was thought to possess the power of whatever gemstone its color was reflecting at the time. This gave the opal the title “Queen of Gems” and made it a precious good luck charm.
Tourmaline is another gemstone that is found in a vast array of colors and like opal, can display more than one color at a time. Tourmaline can represent a strong relationship to nature and help protect one from pollutants and toxins. It is also said to protect against negativity and promote charity.
November: Citrine and Topaz
The beautiful fall foliage complements the orange and yellow tones of November’s birthstones, Citrine and Topaz.
Citrine is named for lemon in French, due to its citrus coloring, which is caused by traces of iron in quartz crystal. Known as the “merchant’s stone”, it is said to attract wealth and help maintain it. It is also known to help comfort, calm, and soothe those who wear it.
Topaz can be found in many colors, but the amber tones are more associated with November. Many gemstones were previously thought to be topaz until modern science could correctly categorize them. Topaz is said to help rid people of nightmares and release anger. Many also believe it bring wisdom that will lead to a longer life.
December: Blue Topaz, Zircon, Turquoise, Tanzanite
Beautiful hues of blue make up December’s many birthstones, making them the perfect winter gemstones. Blue Topaz, Zircon, Turquoise, and Tanzanite were all dubbed December birthstones and are great, affordable gems for jewelry pieces.
Blue Topaz can range from a light, almost clear blue to a bright, sky blue. It is part of the Topaz family so many of the topaz influences can be found within it. It is said to help release the mind of stress and negative thoughts, even helping those with “writer's block”, creativity, and public speaking.
Zircon, the oldest mineral on earth, plays an important part in understating how Earth came to be. Because zircon contains the radioactive element uranium, which changes the stone over time, scientists use it study how Earth was formed. Zircon comes in many colors, but the most prized and used color in jewelry making is blue. It is believed that zircon can raise confidence in the wearer and make them more empathetic.
Turquoise is one of the first gemstones to be used in jewelry, used by Ancient Egyptians as early as 3000 BCE. Turquoise is formed in arid areas when rainwater breaks-up copper in the soil and it combines with phosphorus and aluminum. Some turquoise stones have dark webbing to them, which happens when the turquoise is formed on top of rocks. The stone is thought to have protective powers; so many early warriors adorned themselves, their horses, and their weapons with it. It is said that dreaming of turquoise means success and victory.
The last December birthstone and most recently discovered one is tanzanite. Named for Tanzania, where it was unearthed, tanzanite can range from a pale blue to a dark blue. Due to it being only found in one small region of the world and it becoming so popular, tanzanite is becoming quite the rare gem.
Each birthstone has a rich history and story behind it to match its rich beauty.
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