Birthstone Guide

Birthstone Guide

Birthstones are a fun, popular and colorful way to connect your birth month with rare and unique gemstones. They attract everyone around the world regardless of gender, age, nationality or religion. There are countless myths and legends around the many different powers and attributes that birthstones have. They are a meaningful gift for mom, a friend, spouse, or family member during a special occasion.

Whether you’re looking to shop for a birthstone or trying to determine the birthstone gem colors that match each month, you’ve come to the right place.

The Origin Of Birthstone

Birthstones appear to have a biblical source, tracing back to the book of Exodus in the Bible and specifically on the breastplate of Aaron. The breastplate was inlaid with 12 gemstones that each represented the twelve tribes of Israel at the time. This specific breastplate was adorned with the following gems: emerald, sapphire, diamond, topaz, carbuncle, sardius, agate, Ligure, amethyst, onyx, jasper, and beryl. In the 1st and 5th century AD two scholars, Flavius Josephus and St. Jerome are credited with associating the 12 breastplate gems with the 12 signs of the zodiac. Initially, the thinking was that each person would own all 12 birthstones and wear each gem on the corresponding month.

The modern variation we know today came about in the 18th century in Poland whereby Jewish gem traders marketed selling each gemstone based on a person’s birth month. In 1912 the National Association of Jewelers solidified the practice in the United States. The twelve birthstones have largely remained the same since then, albeit with a few companies trying to pitch their gems into the mix to boost sales. Keep in mind there are different types and variations of birthstones, for instance birthstones for zodiac symbols such as Gemini.


The birthstone for this month is garnet

Garnet is the birthstone for those that are born on the month of January. The word Garnet derives from the 14th century where “garnet” meant a deep red color. In addition, it is derived from the Latin word granatum, which means seed in this instance the seed of a pomegranate. Garnets have been used since the Bronze Age as gemstones and abrasives. It is one of the most diverse gemstones, as it comes in an extraordinary range of colors. The garnet birthstone is mined around the world and symbolizes many different positive emotions.

Color: Mostly red or deep red. Rarer varieties can be lighter red and nearly any other color.

Crystallography: Isometric. Trapezohedron and dodecahedron forms are common. Cube and octahedron form extremely rare.

Hardness: 6.5-7.5

Major Sources: Brazil, India, Madagascar, and the United States.


The birthstone for this month is amethyst

An amethyst is the birthstone for those born in the month of February. The term amethyst derives from the ancient Greek word methustos, which translates roughly to intoxicated. In ancient Greece, it was believed that if you wore an amethyst it would protect you from getting drunk.

Actually, amethyst is a variety of quartz. Amethyst is the gem traditionally given for the sixth wedding anniversary.

Color: Pale lilac to deep reddish-purple. May have color zoning.

Crystallography: Hexagonal.

Hardness: 7

Major Sources: Brazil, Bolivia, Uruguay, and Zambia.


The birthstones for this month are aquamarine

Aquamarine is the birthstone for those lucky enough to be born in March. The word aquamarine is a combination of two words, aqua meaning water, and marina, meaning the sea. Therefore, the gem is named after the beautiful blue sea. Part of the history of this gem is that it was used by sailors to give them good luck on the seas and to ensure a safe voyage.

Aquamarine is in fact a type of beryl, a rare silicate mineral that is found in igneous and metamorphic rocks around the world. Specifically, it is found in granite rhyolites and granite pegmatites

Color: Blue to blue-green.

Crystallography: Hexagonal

Hardness: 7.5-8

Major Sources: Brazil, Madagascar, the United States, Australia, India, Namibia, and Nigeria


The birthstone for this month is diamond

You’ve surely heard of or even own a diamond, the birthstone for the month of April. Diamonds are one of the rarest gemstones in the world and certainly one of the most prized. They earn that recognition partially for how hard they are, in fact they are 58 times harder than any other mineral on Earth. That is why you will often see diamond-coated blades and bits as they are able to cut or grind through anything. Diamonds are pure carbon lattice as shown above and come in a range of colors from yellow to red, pink, green, and blue. However, you likely are interested in the pure colorless variety of diamonds, which are extremely rare as most diamonds have a hint of yellow to them.

Our love for the April birthstone started in India, where diamonds were gathered from the country’s rivers and streams. Traded as early as the fourth century BCE, diamonds were coveted by royalty and the wealthy. Later, caravans brought Indian diamonds, along with other exotic merchandise, to medieval markets in Venice. By the 1400s, diamonds were becoming fashionable accessories for Europe’s elite. The first diamond engagement ring on record was given by Archduke Maximillian of Austria to his betrothed, Mary of Burgundy, in 1477.

Color: Colorless, gray, shades of yellow, brown, pink, green, orange, lavender, blue, black; rarely red.

Crystallography: Isometric; Crystals sometimes sharp octahedra, dodecahedra, and combinations with other forms.

Hardness: 10

Major Sources: South Africa, India, Brazil, Venezuela, Russia, Australia, and the United States.


The birthstone for this month is emerald

The word emerald is derived from the Greek word smaragdus which translates to green. Similar to aquamarine as mentioned above, an emerald is a green variety of beryl based on the impurities found in the beryl. Emeralds are found commonly in Brazil, Colombia, Zambia, and Afghanistan. Most emeralds are heat treated to deepen their green color as high-quality emeralds are very rare.

The green birthstone was also thought to have magical powers. By placing it under the tongue, one could see into the future. Some believed it made one an eloquent speaker and exposed lovers who made false promises.

Color: Deep to medium green, blueish green.

Crystallography: Hexagonal

Hardness: 7.5-8

Major Sources: Colombia, Brazil, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Madagascar, and Nigeria


The Birthstones for this month are pearl, alexandrite.


The word pearl comes from the French word perle which means led. This refers to the leg shape of a mollusk shell. Pearls are gemstones but not minerals as pearls are formed by living organisms, mollusks. A mollusk will form a pearl if there is a nucleus to start, sometimes an individual grain of sand. The mollusk will then corm layers of calcium carbonate around that sand grain sequentially over time. Actually, the mollusk does this because the grain is an irritant and this is the reaction to ease that irritant by adding a smooth coating around it. The majority of pearls you find in the marketplace today are actually cultured in a pearl farm where people artificially induce creation of a pearl through insertion of an irritant into the mollusks shell.

Color: Pearl color is the result of a body color and an overtone color or orient present as a lustrous sheen. The orient is the color seen as reflected by a diffuse light source. The rest of the color is due to the body color.

Hardness: 2.5-4.5

Sources: southern China, Indonesia, Philippines, and Australia.


“Emerald by day, ruby by night,” alexandrite is well-known for displaying one of the most remarkable color changes in the gem world green in sunlight and red in incandescent light.


The birthstone for this month is ruby

Ruby is a variety of corundum that is then colored to a deep red coloring by chromium. One of the other variations of corundum is sapphire dependent on the impurities within the mineral. The name of ruby comes from the Latin word for red, Rubeus.

In ancient India, ruby was called the “king of precious stones” for its rarity, hardness (second only to diamond), beauty and seemingly mystical powers. Long associated with the life force blood, ruby was a symbol of power and youthful energy in Indian jewelry. In past centuries, some believed this birthstone for July 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.

Color: All varieties of red, from pinkish, purplish, orangey, brownish, to dark red.

Crystallography: Hexagonal.

Hardness: 9

Sources: Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Cambodia, Madagascar, Kenya, Tanzania, Mozambique, Afghanistan, Nepal, and Vietnam


The birthstones for this month are peridot

Peridot gemstone has a green vibrant glow and possibly derives its name from the Arabic word for gem, faridat. It may also derive its name from the Greek word for “giving plenty,” peridona. Peridot is actually gem quality olivine, a mineral commonly found in mafic igneous rocks such as basalt, gabbro, and peridotite. Throughout history, peridot has often been confused with other gems such as topaz and emerald.

Color: All varieties of green.

Crystallography: Orthorhombic. Crystals rare, usually striated prisms, corroded grains; often as rolled pebbles, or in nodules called bombs in volcanic areas.

Hardness: 6.5-7

Sources: Egypt, Myanmar, the United States, Norway, Mexico, Sri Lanka, Kenya, and Australia


The birthstone for this month is sapphire

Similar to a ruby, a sapphire is a variety of corundum that adorns a deep blue color. The name sapphire comes from the Latin word for “bluestone,” sapphirus. One of the benefits of sapphires is their hardness, registering a 9 on the Mohs hardness scale. This means it’s a strong and sturdy gemstone that you don’t have to worry about getting scratched. It also means this gem is useful for industrial that take heavy wear and tear.

For countless centuries, sapphire has adorned royalty and the robes of the clergy. The elite of ancient Greece and Rome believed that blue sapphires protected their owners from harm and envy. Clerics of the Middle Ages wore sapphires because they symbolized Heaven. Ancient Persians believed the earth actually rested on a giant sapphire, which made the sky blue.

Color: Colorless, white, gray, blue, blue-green, green, violet, purple, orange, yellow, yellow-green, brown, golden amber, peachy pink, pink, black.

Crystallography: Hexagonal (trigonal).

Hardness: 9

Sources: Sri Lanka, India, Australia, Myanmar, Thailand, and the United States.


The birthstones for this month are opal and tourmaline


The opal’s name is believed to have originated in India (the source of the first opals brought to the Western world), where in Sanskrit it was called Upala, a “precious stone.” .” In ancient Rome, this became opalus. Most opals are valued for their shifting colors in rainbow hues – a phenomenon is known as “play-of-color.”

Opal forms when water picks up silica dioxide and deposits it into open voids or cavities along with trace impurities. The water then evaporates and leaves the silica dioxide.

Color: Colorless, white, yellow, orange, and red (various shades), yellowish-brown, greenish, blue, gray, black, violet.

Crystallography: Amorphous.

Hardness: 5.5-6.5

Sources: Australia, Brazil, Czech Republic, Ethiopia, Honduras, Indonesia, Mexico, Poland, Tanzania, and the United States.


Tourmaline comes from the Sinhalese word for mixed colored stone, tura mali. In fact, tourmaline is not a single mineral, it is a group of minerals that have very different chemical compositions and colors. A tourmaline is a boron silicate mineral that occur within igneous and metamorphic rocks.

Different colors of tourmaline are thought to have their own healing properties. Black tourmaline is believed to protect the wearer and give a sense of self-confidence. Pink tourmaline embodies love and is associated with compassion and gentleness. Green tourmaline promotes courage, strength and stamina. Tourmaline is given to celebrate the eighth wedding anniversary.


The birthstones for this month are topaz and citrine


Topaz is the more common gemstone associated with November and comes in a variety of yellow hues. Some believe the word “topaz” comes from the Sanskrit word tapas, which means “fire.” Others trace it back to the Greek topazos. This November birthstone was long thought to have many benefits. The ancient Greeks believed that topaz gave them strength. From the 1300s to the 1600s, Europeans thought it could thwart 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.Blue topaz is the gem of the fourth wedding anniversary, and Imperial topaz is the gem of the 23rd wedding anniversary.

Topaz picks up its bright yellow color from impurities, as with most gems. In pure form, topaz is colorless but can take on a variety of colors dependent on certain impurities.

Color: Blue, Brown, Green, Orange, Pink, Red, Yellow, White, Gold, Colorless

Hardness: 8

Sources: Australia, Russia, Sri Lanka, India, Pakistan, Nigeria, Mexico, Germany, and USA


This November birthstone is the transparent yellow to brownish orange variety of quartz, which has been used in jewelry for thousands of years. Citrine has been a popular gemstone since ancient times and has shared a history of mistaken identities with the other November birthstone, topaz. As a result, people thought citrine had the same powers as topaz. They believed the citrine birthstone could soothe tempers and calm the wearer. The ancient Greeks carved rock crystal ornaments that glistened like permafrost.

Color: Yellow to red-orange, also deep orange and orangey brown.

Crystallography: Hexagonal

Hardness: 7

Sources: Bolivia, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Madagascar, Mexico, Myanmar, Namibia, Peru, Russia, South Africa, the United States, and Zambia.


The birthstones for this month are tanzanite, turquoise and zircon

There are three birthstones for the month of December: tanzanite, zircon and turquoise. All three of these stones are a deep blue color and have their own history and chemical composition.


Turquoise is a semi-translucent to opaque gem that ranges from blue to green and often has veins of matrix (remnants of the rock in which it formed) running through it. This December birthstone has been cherished for millennia. The pharaohs and other rulers of ancient Egypt adorned themselves with it. Chinese artisans carved it more than 3,000 years ago.

 The turquoise birthstone was thought to possess many beneficial powers, like guaranteeing health and good fortune. From the 13th century on, it was believed to protect the wearer from falling (especially off horses), and would break into several pieces at the approach of disaster. Hindu mystics maintained that seeing a turquoise after beholding the new moon ensured fantastic wealth.


One of the more interesting of the three is tanzanite, a gem you may not have heard of before. This rare gem is only found in Tanzania and was only recently discovered in 1967. Tanzanite gets its deep blue color from trace amounts of vanadium.

Tanzanite was discovered by Maasai herders who were tending to the Merelani Hills around Arusha, Tanzania.The name Tanzanite was coined by Tiffany and Company who became the primary distributor of the gem and wanted to showcase the rare geographical source of this stone.


The origins of the word “zircon” have elicited colorful debate. Some scholars believe it comes from the Arabic word zarkun, meaning “cinnabar” or “vermilion.” Others think the source is the Persian word zargun, or “gold colored.” Considering the broad color palette for this December birthstone – red, orange, yellow, brown, green and blue – either derivation seems possible. Colorless zircon is known for its brilliance and flashes of multicolored light, called fire, which have resulted in centuries of confusion with diamond.

During the Middle Ages, this December birthstone was thought to lull one into a deep sleep and scare off evil spirits. In the Hindu religion, zircon alternates with hessonite garnet as one of the nine gems of the navaratna. When worn together, the nine gems protect the wearer and bring wealth, wisdom and good health.

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