Birthstones are gems which are associated with each month of the year. Various lists have been produced throughout the years for different countries and culture, with the current birthstone list being established by the National Association of Goldsmiths.
There are numerous myths and legends about the different gemstones, and it’s believed that they have therapeutic and healing properties, which are heightened when the stones are worn during their assigned month.
For this reason, it’s recommended to own all twelve of the stones, and alternate them every month!
Sites dedicated solely to selling gemstones such as Heritage Jewellery have become popular as people try to collect as many as possible!
January – Garnet
Garnets are renowned as being symbols of friendship, and as such make a very popular gift for friends.
The word garnet comes from the Latin ‘pomumgranatum’, which means pomegranate seeds, which resemble some garnet crystals.
While garnets are usually known for being a deep red, they actually come in a range of different colours, including lots of bright greens.
February – Amethyst
The amethyst is thought to protect its wearer from drunkenness, keeping them clear-headed, and in Ancient Greek times, drinking vessels were made from amethyst.
While the gemstone is primarily known for warding off intoxication, it was also purported to resemble royalty in England during the Middle Ages.
Amethyst is a beautiful blend of purple and red, and today is mostly produced in Brazil.
March – Aquamarine or Bloodstone
As the name implies, aquamarine is associated with water, and it was often given to sailors to protect them on treacherous journeys.
Its main property is that it provides a cool and level head, with its cool blue tones.
March also has another lesser-known gemstone called bloodstone. Bloodstone is a dark green with bright red spots.
The story goes that it was crated when drops of Jesus’s blood stained some jasper at the foot of the cross, hence the name bloodstone.
April – Diamond or Rock Crystal
One of the most popular birthstones is of course, diamond. While diamonds are traditionally white in colour, they’re now available in a whole range of bright colours such as reds, yellows, pinks and blues, with varying levels of brightness.
Diamond is one of the hardest substances in the world, and it is thought that wearing it gives the wearer greater levels of inner strength, as well as clarity and balance.
April’s other birthstone is the rock crystal, which is a clear and colourless quartz.
May – Emerald or Chrysoprase
This green gem is believed to grant its wearer benefits such as foresight, good fortune and youth.
High quality emerald can be quite hard to come by, and so it is one of the more precious gemstones.
Chrysoprase is another green gemstone, although it is more of an apple green as opposed to the deep green of emeralds.
June – Pearl or Moonstone
Pearls are a truly unique gemstone as they come from living molluscs in the sea. The popularity of pearls peaked during the 1500s, which was known as ‘the pearl age’.
Nowadays the vast majority of pearls are farmed rather than being found naturally, but they remain very popular.
Junes other birthstone, moonstone was initially thought by the Romans to be created from solidified moon rays and it was a very popular gemstone during the Art Nouveau period.
July – Ruby or Carnelian
Rubies are known to guarantee health, wisdom, wealth and success in love in their wearers as well as stirring the imagination.
Finding a truly high quality ruby is extremely rare, as they are often too light or too orange, in which case they will just be called fancy-colour sapphires.
Carnelian is a brownish-red mineral which is often mistaken for the similar material, sard.
August –Peridot or Sardonyx
The gemstones for August are two lesser known stones, peridot and sardonyx. Peridot is supposedly known for its magical healing powers, as well as protecting against nightmares.
Peridot is also known for being formed in volcanoes, especially in Hawaii. It comes in multiple colours, but the most popular are the bright lime and olive greens.
Sardonyx is a reddish brown form of onyx which was carried into battle by soldiers of ancient Greece and Rome who hoped that it would bring them courage and victory.
September – Sapphire or Lapis Lazuli
Sapphire has been one of the most popular gemstones since the Middle Ages. Its main property is that it supposedly protects the wearer from envy and harm.
Sapphire was also worn by the clergy in the Middle Ages as it symbolizes heaven. Sapphire is most known as a blue gemstone but is available in a range of colours.
Lapis lazuli is another lesser-known birthstone and is known for its intense deep blue colour.
It is perhaps best known as being used for the eyebrows on the funeral mask of the Egyptian pharaoh Tutankhamun.
October – Opal
Opal comes in many different colours, but what sets it apart is the fact that it diffracts light, meaning it can take on numerous different colours.
It is believed that an opal possesses all the virtues of each colour it displays, and so is one of the most prized gemstones.
Opals dropped in popularity in the mid 19th century after the novel ‘Anne of Geierstein’ was written by Sir Walter Scott.
In the novel, the Baroness of Arnheim wears an opal talisman, and when a drop of holy water falls on it, the opal turns into a colourless stone and the Baroness dies.
November – Topaz or Citrine
Often confused with quartz, topaz is available in a wide range of colours, however the most popular is the Imperial Topaz, which is orange with pink undertones and is named after the Russian Czars of the 19th century.
Citrine is a golden quartz which is known as the ‘healing quartz’, and provides vitality and health.
It’s also one of the most affordable birthstones, so you’ve struck lucky is your loved one was born in November!
December – Tanzanite or Turquoise
As the name suggests, Tanzanite was discovered in Tanzania, and it remains the only place it can be found.
Tanzanite is renowned for a rich violet-blue hue, and is often purchased as a cheaper alternative to sapphire.
Turquoise is a unique blue-green stone and is actually one of the oldest known gemstones, originating in the 13th century.