A LOOK AT BIRTHSTONES
There is a rich history of birthstones and how they found their way into jewelry as well as into our collective imagination. Many of us first heard about the power of birthstones from our mothers, grandmothers, or other family members.
Birthstones carry secrets, attributes and lore that are unique to each gemstone. There are countless myths and legends around the many different powers and attributes that birthstones have. Whether or not you believe these legends, it’s hard to disagree that learning about birthstones can be an educational and entertaining experience. Many believe that a birthstone carries a powerful statement of the wearers finest qualities.
This list is one of the generally agreed upon primary lists in the jewelry world and the list I choose to follow. Many stones may also have a multitude of meanings and uses.
January Birthstone – Garnet
Those born in January are lucky to have the beautiful and diverse garnet as their birthstone. Garnets are commonly red but also come in an extraordinary range of beautiful colors, including orange, yellow, purple and vibrant green. Some believe the true value of the garnet birthstone is its power to bring the wearer good health, wealth and happiness.
February Birthstone – Amethyst
Amethyst is the purple variety of quartz that has captivated mankind for millennia. It has lilac to deep purple hues which can be found in the collections of royal families throughout Europe and Asia. Wearing an amethyst is said to be a symbol of personal empowerment and inner strength.
March Birthstone – Aquamarine
Aquamarine’s name comes from the Latin for seawater, and ancient mariners claimed the gem would calm waves and keep sailors safe at sea. This March birthstone was also thought to bring happiness in marriage, and was believed to give the wearer protection against foes in battle and litigation. It was also thought to make the wearer unconquerable and amiable, and to quicken the intellect.
April Birthstone – Diamond or White Topaz
Sparkling with an internal fire all its own, diamond is one of the world’s most sought-after and adored gemstones, a symbol of clarity and strength. Diamond is so strong, in fact, that its name comes from the Greek word "adamas," which means “invincible” or “unbreakable.”
A second recognized birthstone for April, the ancient Greeks believed that topaz gave them strength. In Europe during the Renaissance (the period from the 1300s to the 1600s) people thought that topaz could break magic spells and dispel anger. For centuries, many people in India have believed that topaz worn above the heart assures long life, beauty, and intelligence.
May Birthstone – Emerald
Emerald has been beloved for millennia, evoking rebirth and renewal. Widely regarded as the definition of green, emerald is the perfect color for spring. From the poetic description of Ireland as “the Emerald Isle” to the vibrant green of the famed gemstone itself—the May birthstone emerald has captured hearts and minds through the ages. Legend has it that emerald has the power to make its wearer more intelligent and quick-witted, and it was once believed to cure diseases like cholera and malaria.
June Birthstone – Moonstone
Moonstone is the best-known gem of the feldspar group of minerals. It is renowned for its adularescence, the light that appears to billow across a gemstone, giving it a special glow and a blue sheen. This June birthstone has been associated with both the Roman and Greek lunar deities. Hindu mythology claims that it is made of solidified moonbeams. Moonstone is often associated with love, passion and fertility; it is believed to bring great luck.
July Birthstone – Ruby
Ruby is one of the most coveted of gems. In ancient India, ruby was called the “king of precious stones” for its rarity, hardness (second only to diamond), beauty and seemingly mystical powers - a symbol of power and youthful energy. In past centuries, some believed it could predict misfortune or danger, and others claimed it would cure inflammatory diseases and soothe anger. Burmese warriors believed it made them invincible in battle. Medieval Europeans maintained that rubies bestowed health, wisdom, wealth and success in love.
August Birthstone – Peridot
Peridot is recognized for its unique lime or olive green color. It was valued in many ancient and medieval cultures and appeared in priests’ jewelry as early as the second century BCE and later in the chalices and churches of medieval Europe. Used for centuries as a protective talisman, it was thought to shield the owner from evil spirits and “terrors of the night” and was said to bestow harmony, good health, restful sleep and peacefulness as well as to aid in healing.
September Birthstone – Sapphire
Sapphire is a gem that’s been cherished for thousands of years. Although the term sapphire usually refers to the blue variety of corundum, this birthstone comes in a rainbow of other colors. Sapphires have been long associated with royalty and romance and are also said to symbolize truth, fidelity and the soul. Some cultures believe the sapphire symbolizes purity and wisdom.
October Birthstone – Tourmaline
Tourmaline is the newer October birthstone (Opal is also commonly listed). The name comes from the Sinhalese word toramalli, which means “stone with mixed colors,” because it often has multiple colors in one crystal. Very few gems match tourmaline’s dazzling array of colors. Perhaps this is why ancient mystics believed this October birthstone could inspire artistic expression – it has a color palette for every mood. Pink tourmaline is seen as a symbol for love, compassion and gentleness.
November Birthstone – Topaz
While topaz may be found in a variety of colors, in its natural state is generally yellowish-brown or near colorless. For many people, topaz symbolizes love and affection or honor and strength. It is thought to calm anger and balance strong emotions while giving increased strength and intellect. The ancient Greeks even believed it could turn a wearer invisible. The healing properties of topaz are believed to help combat eating disorders and aid in digestion.
December Birthstone – Turquoise
Turquoise and tanzanite are both listed as December birthstones. I decided to feature turquoise as it is the oldest and traditional primary birthstone for December, with tanzanite having been added in 2002. Turquoise is often regarded as a love charm and a symbol of good fortune. Some believe it will relax the wearer’s mind and protect from harm, keeping away evil spirits. It is said to aid in the absorption of nutrients and to enhance the immune system.