If you don't know what the birthstones are for each month, we’re here to help. Everyone has a birthstone that represents their month of birth, and they make fantastic gifts for someone special. But did you know that each birthstone has a significant history and meaning? Find out everything you need to know about birthstones right here.
The Origin of Birthstones
In western culture, birthstones were thought to have started with the Breastplate of Aaron, a plate containing 12 gemstones worn by the High Priest of the Israelites. However, in modern tradition in Poland, it became recognised that people would wear birthstones for the month in which they were born.
Garnet is January's birthstone, a very diverse gem due to the variety of colours it occurs in. It is most commonly found in red, but colours like yellow, purple, orange and even vivid green are also found and mined. Garnet dates back to 3000BC, due to a necklace being discovered featuring this gemstone on a mummified body in Egypt. Romans believed the Garnet stone would protect travellers from harm. It has been said that Garnet brings health and love.
Amethyst is February's birthstone, a purple variety of Quartz. Amethyst is sourced from a range of different locations and is found in Morocco, Zambia, Bolivia and Brazil. Amethyst has a vast, rich history that dates back to Ancient Egypt and Ancient Greece. The Ancient Greeks believed that Amethyst could shield them from intoxication when drinking wine. Amethyst symbolises strong bonds and spirit.
Aquamarine is the birthstone for March, a pale blue gem that presents ocean-like hues. The name "Aquamarine" comes from the Latin word "aqua" meaning water, and "mare" meaning sea. Another gemstone that dates back centuries, Greek and Roman myths saw the gem as protection for sailors when crossing stormy seas. Aquamarine signifies wisdom and is considered to help control emotions.
For those of you born in April, the most iconic gemstone in the world is your birthstone - Diamond! It has grown in popularity over centuries, becoming the main feature for traditional engagement rings. Diamond dates back to the 800 - 600 BC in India when Diamond mining first took place. Since then Diamond deposits have been found all over the world, with Botswana, Russia and Canada producing over 10 million carats of Diamonds. As it stands today, Diamond is a stone that represents "everlasting love". This connects with the fact that it is the hardest gemstone known to man.
May's birthstone is one of the most beloved gemstones to have been found, Emerald. It is a beautiful lush natural gem that is only found in the colour green. To own a piece of Emerald jewellery is to own a piece of history. Going as far back as Ancient Egypt, Emerald was regarded as a royal favourite by Cleopatra, the last ruler of Ptolemaic Egypt. However, for over 500 years, Columbia has been a significant source for some of the world's most exquisite Emeralds. This gemstone symbolises growth and balance.
The birthstones for June are Pearl, Alexandrite and Moonstone. June is one of two months that has three birthstones, and they are all absolutely beautiful in their own unique way. Pearl is one of the oldest gemstones known to man. It is an organic gem, which means the gem has been created by natural organisms. Pearls are created from an irritant, like a grain of sand, within freshwater or saltwater molluscs. The Romans considered Pearls to represent their worth and social standing.
Alexandrite, another birthstone for June, is a rare and modern gemstone. In daylight, the stone has a bluish-green appearance, but this changes to purplish-red in incandescent light. This colour change phenomenon is what makes this gem so incredible. Alexandrite was discovered in Russia in 1830 and was named after Prince Alexandra II of Russia. Since its discovery, Alexandrite has been considered to bring good fortune.
Moonstone, the third birthstone associated with June, is a colourless gem that emits colourful sheens under different lighting conditions. This effect is called adularescence, meaning light that reflects between layers of minerals. This stone was extremely sought-after during the Roman Age, as they believed it was formed from moonlight. This gem is thought to protect the wearer from negative thoughts.
Ruby is July's birthstone, a red variety of the mineral corundum. Reported to have originated in Burma, some of the world's most beautiful and most expensive Rubies were mined from Burma for centuries, but the supply has now decreased. Rubies can be traced back over 2500 years and have been the centrepiece of many historical jewellery pieces. Ruby is said to express passion, energy and power.
One of the birthstones for August is Peridot, a green gemstone that is known for its olive colour. One of the oldest gems on earth, Peridot was mistaken for Emerald and Topaz in Ancient times. In fact, some of Cleopatra's famous Emerald pieces were found to be Peridot. This gemstone has been associated with easing negative feelings like anxiety and resentment.
The second birthstone for August is Spinel, a gemstone that comes in an array of distinct colours including black, pink, purple, red, blue and more. This is another stone that was confused for more distinguished gems like Ruby and Sapphire. A case of this happening is with the Timur Ruby. Thought to be a Ruby until 1851, this stone was a rough cut Spinel that was a gift to Queen Victoria and set into a necklace in 1853. Known to many to be a stone of hope and joy.
September's birthstone is Sapphire. Known most commonly as the blue variation of corundum, Sapphire also comes in an array of rainbow colours. Sapphire has held a strong connection with royalty for centuries, the most recent royal Sapphire being Princess Diana's engagement ring, which was passed down to Prince Harry. In the Middle Ages, Sapphires were thought to symbolise heaven and were worn by priests and religious leaders. Nowadays, Sapphires are known to signify kindness and wisdom.
The first birthstone for October is Opal, a gem that is mesmerising because of it’s play-of-colour. Opals are sourced from many places. Australia is one place where some of the most valued Opals are mined. Back in 1829, a book that was written by Sir Walter Scott called ‘Anne of Geierstein’ shrouded the gemstone with negativity. However, today, the stone is hugely sought after and worn by royals and celebrities and is associated with loyalty.
The second birthstone for October is Tourmaline. The name Tourmaline comes from the Sinhalese word "toramalli" and means "mixed gems", referring to its availability in multiple colours. One of the first known Tourmaline crystals was found in Brazil in the 1500s and was believed to be an Emerald until scientists found it to be a different mineral to Emerald in the 1800s. Said to be a stone of reconciliation, healing and friendships.
The first birthstone for November is Citrine, a vibrant yellow to orange variation of Quartz. Citrine has been a centrepiece in jewellery for thousands of years, and it was the custom in Ancient Greece to carve images into them to create ornaments. Citrine is a stone said to bring new beginnings.
The second birthstone for November is Topaz, which comes in vast amount of colours like blue, yellow, pink and violet. Topaz was discovered a long time ago and like other lesser-known gems was mistaken for something else. This gem was highly valued by the Romans and Greeks, they believed it would give them strength over opposing enemies. Topaz is said to promote good fortune.
Tanzanite is the first birthstone for December, and also the youngest gem on this list. This magnificent blue stone with striking violet flashes was only discovered in 1967. It was found in Tanzania, from where the name derives and is said to be 100 times rarer than Diamond. Not long after its discovery, Tanzanite became very popular in America and Europe, and as word grew the jewellery industry got more excited about the prospects of this new gemstone. It is custom in Tanzania for women to wear blue beads, believed to be Tanzanite, to help their children live a positive and healthy lifestyle.
Turquoise is another birthstone for December, a gemstone that is opaque blue to green in hue, usually with darker veins running through it. This stone has been adored for centuries, all the way back to the First Dynasty of Egypt. Turquoise has played a significant part of Native American culture, where it was named the "Stone of Life", as it was believed the stone could cure illnesses.
The third and final birthstone for December is Zircon, a stone with several colours associated with it including red, yellow, green, blue and also colourless. The colourless variation of Zircon is known for its dazzling multi-colour flashes, distinguished as fire. This stone was favoured in the Middle Ages as they believed wearing the stone would help with sleep. Zircon has been used as a good luck charm.
Don't forget that birthstones aren't just for yourself they can also make a great gift as well. So make a note of that special someone's birthday month and their birthstone related to that month and take have a browse.