Everything you need to know about birthstones, in one place!
Learn the origins of birthstones, along with the gems associated with your birth month or the birth month of someone special.
Searching for a birthday gift for someone? Keep reading for great ideas on how to incorporate birthstones into a special gift.
Use the outline below to find the specific information you're interested in.
- History of Birthstones
- Definition of Birthstones
- How did the idea start
- Birthstones by Month
- Birthstone Gift Ideas
What are birthstones?
As tradition goes, one gem is designated as the birthstone for each month of the year. Accordingly, there are 12 stones in all.
Once upon a time, birthstones were thought to have magical powers that could be advantageous for the wearer.
Where did they come from and what do they mean?
Fans of astrology and gemology will be especially interested to learn where the stones came from and who started this tradition of birthstones.
Where do birthstones come from?
Birthstones are, quite simply, minerals that come from deep in the earth.
They are also referred to as gems, but there is no real scientific definition for this word. Something special or treasured is called a “gem”, so this is most likely where the word came from.
Minerals are formed by heat and resemble a rock when mined from the earth. To get a smooth, shiny appearance it has to be polished to get rid of its rough exterior.
This can be done by placing it in a rock tumbler or taking it to a gem cutter who can remove the rough outside and polish it to a smooth finish.
Where did the idea of birthstones come from?
The origin of birthstones is believed to date all the way back to the Bible.
According to the Book of Exodus 28:17-21, the Lord instructed Moses to inscribe the names of the 12 sons of Israel on to 12 stones.
The stones were then placed in a religious garment called a breastplate and worn by Moses' brother, Aaron, the High Priest of the Hebrews. The stones were ordered, not by each wife’s children, but according to the months of the year instead.
Over time, each of the 12 stones came to symbolize a sign of the zodiac and eventually, a month of the year.
How are modern birthstones used?
In the 18th and 19th centuries, there was a great deal of variability in which birthstone was associated with a particular month.
The National Association of Jewelers, a trade group of American jewelers, standardized the modern list of birthstones in 1912 and has updated it several times since then.
Since that time, birthstones have become a part of our culture and part of many traditions. Wearing a birthstone is said to bring health, wealth and happiness.
Birthstone gifts make wonderful birthday, anniversary, or mother's gifts. Birthstone rings and birthstone pendants are especially popular.
What are the birthstones by month?
Unlike zodiac signs that are linked to specific dates within a month, there is one major birthstone associated with the entire month.
Over time, secondary birthstones were added to several months due to the scarcity or expense of some minerals.
The best example of this is the month of April which claims the diamond as its birthstone. Due to the high price of diamonds, opals and sapphires were added as options for April birthdays.
Wondering what the birthstones by month are?
January Birthstone: Garnet
The birthstone for January is associated with the deep red color of the garnet. Its name in Latin means “seed" because it resembles a pomegranate seed. It is associated with friendship and trust.
Garnets were the stone that was worn by Egyptian Pharaohs. In astrological correspondence, it pertains to the blood, heart, and lungs and signifies romance, passion and intimacy.
February Birthstone: Amethyst
The birthstone for February is a type of quartz called amethyst. Its beautiful purple hue is the color of royalty. It was often used to adorn the crown, royal scepter, or the robe of a king or queen. The amethyst is said to make the wearer more courageous.
This stone is one of the most affordable as its often found in mountainous areas or near craters. It is not limited to certain regions but is commonly found in North America and Brazil.
March Birthstone: Aquamarine
The birthstone for March is aquamarine. It is associated with water due to its cool blue hue. It was thought to protect sailors on the open sea. The color is a crystalline blue and makes a gorgeous ring or pendant stone.
It's not surprising that March’s astrological sign is Pisces, the fish. It stands for purity and unity.
It is believed that the aquamarine stone can enhance communication.
April Birthstone: Diamond
The birthstone for April is the diamond. It's one of the hardest surfaces in the world. Those born in April are very lucky, because as the saying goes, ‘Diamonds are forever,’ and these stones will last a lifetime.
When carbon deposits from deep within the Earth's core are exposed to tremendous heat and pressure, diamonds are formed. Interestingly, less pure forms of carbon deposits turn into coal.
Due to their strength, diamonds can be cut by a jeweler into a variety of dazzling shapes.
Diamonds are said to symbolize love and pureness of character.
May Birthstone: Emerald
The birthstone for May is the emerald. This beautiful sea-green stone is associated with springtime, the emerald isle of Ireland, and plays a prominent role in the Wizard of Oz.
Its color represents love, fertility, and rebirth. It's fitting that the springtime month of May is a time when baby animals are born and crops are harvested.
The emerald is known to bring success in love.
June Birthstone: Pearl
The birthstone for June is pearl. It's one of the few stones that is not a mineral, but rather a product of oysters.
It is known to change color due to a a combination of chromium and ions. In incandescent light is often appears with a reddish hue, and in natural light has a deep green hue.
The pearl is known to imbue the wearer with truth, faith and love.
July Birthstone: Ruby
The birthstone for July is the ruby. Rubies are placed in the category of precious gems along with diamonds, emeralds, and sapphires. Its signature red color comes from chromium, the same mineral that is in Alexandrite and Garnet.
The ruby is said to inspire creativity and bring love into one's life.
August Birthstone: Peridot
The birthstone for August is peridot. This stone is also formed by volcanic eruptions and has a light lime-green color.
It is known as a fiery or passionate stone because it grows near lava formations. It is associated with the earth and so is the sign of Virgo, the zodiac sign for the last part of the month.
The peridot is said to help someone follow their dreams and move forward.
(Want to learn more about the month of August and birthdays? Click here.)
September Birthstone: Sapphire
The birthstone for September is the sapphire. It has a cool blue color that's almost violet in hue. It is a royal color representing wisdom and loyalty, often seen in the jewelry and accessories of kings and high officials.
Sapphires also are known to be a hard substance like rubies and are second only to diamonds in surface strength.
The sapphire is a symbol of strength and excellent judgment.
October Birthstone: Pink Tourmaline
The birthstone for October is pink tourmaline. Its name in Sri Lankan is Sinhalese, meaning stone of mixed colors. Tourmaline is a crystal that is found in pink, green, white, purple, and black varieties.
It is considered a rainbow gem because it exists in nearly all colors. It is associated with health, the nervous system, and the blood.
It is often used in folk medicine as a healing stone which can promote calm and well-being.
November Birthstone: Topaz
The birthstone for November is topaz, a fiery orangish-yellow gem. Topaz is one of those that come in different colors; there is blue topaz, yellow topaz, red, pink, etc.
It is thought to calm anxiety and eliminate nightmares. November is associated with Scorpio, an earth sign.
December Birthstone: Blue Topaz
The birthstone for December is blue topaz. Its color is lighter than a sapphire, but darker than aquamarine. It is a crystal with many facets and can take on the appearance of different colors in the light.
December is the sign of Capricorn the goat, an earth sign.
Blue topaz is said to bring a sense of peace and calm to the wearer.
Birthstone Rings and Birthstone Pendants
The beautiful colors of birthstones can provide inspiration when in search of gifts for friends or loved ones. They are the perfect way to mark a birthday or an anniversary,
A great gift for a mother would be a piece of jewelry featuring the birthstone of each of her children. Whether a ring, pendant or another item, having something that reminds her of the day her children were born is sure to be a hit.
Birthstone Gifts Beyond Jewelry
Looking for a unique birthday gift?
ANYTHING associated with a birthstone color can be a great gift. If a ruby ring is not in your budget, what about a pair of sparkly ruby slippers?
Crystal globes in the birthstone color, a scarf, sweater, decorative pillows, napkin rings, picture frames, key rings, or just about anything you can imagine in that same color can make a great birthday gift.
nor a man perfected without trials.