Everything to Know About Birthstones
Birthstones have fascinated people for centuries, believed to hold mystical powers and properties specific to each month. Understanding their history and gemological properties provides insight into their symbolism and meanings. This guide covers birthstones for those who are buying jewelry or are curious about your birth month’s gems.
The History of Birthstones
The concept of birthstones has its roots in the Old Testament. Exodus describes the Breastplate of Aaron with 12 jewels representing tribes of Israel. Biblical scholars linked the 12 stones with the 12 signs of the Greco-Roman zodiac, creating the first association between gemstones and the time of year. Later, in the eighth and ninth centuries, the stones became associated with the Twelve Apostles. The church mandated wearing a different stone every month to honor the apostles, reinforcing the link between stones and months.
Modern Birthstones Versus Traditional Birthstones
These customs shifted and evolved over the centuries, but it wasn’t until 1912 that they officially designated “birthstones”. US Jewelers’ organization listed a standardized stone for each month. Since then, jewelers have added a few alternative stones to the list, but they have maintained the same general list.
What is My Birthstone?
Comparing Each Month’s Birthstones
January’s Birthstone: Garnet
Resembling the seeds of a pomegranate, the dark red Garnet gemstone represents both the modern and traditional birthstones for January. It is believed to date all the way back to 3100 B.C. Egypt and scores a hardness of 6.5-7.5 out of 10 on the Mohs scale. Garnet is a group of minerals that can come in many different colors, but red is the most common color. People have associated garnets with many different meanings and beliefs as well. In ancient times, garnet was believed to have healing powers that could cure heart and blood disease. Today, garnets are believed to symbolize peace, health, and friendship. Some garnets have even been used as abrasives for cutting through steel.
Learn more about the Garnet gemstone representing the 2nd wedding anniversary in our January birthstone blog!
February’s Birthstones: Amethyst and Jasper
Amethyst is one of the birthstones for the month of February and is a beautiful purple quartz gemstone. It derives its name from the Greek word “amethystos,” which means “not drunk,” as people believed it prevented drunkenness. The ancient Greeks believed that their God, Dionysus, was the first to come across this gemstone. Amethysts come in various shades of purple, red, and blue, and their color intensity depends on the amount of iron and manganese present in the stone. It scores a 7 out of 10 on the Mohs scale and is believed to symbolize peace, focus, and courage. The most valuable amethysts have a deep purple hue and red flashes.
While Amethyst is the primary birthstone for February, another gemstone associated with this month is Jasper. It derives its name from the old French word meaning “spotted” or “speckled” stone. Jasper is a dense and opaque gemstone found in various shades including brown, red, yellow, green, and orange. Jasper is a type of chalcedony that people believe possesses spiritual and healing properties. It is known as the “nurturing stone,” and scores a 6.5-7 out of 10 on the Mohs scale. People have been using it in jewelry and decorative items for centuries, and it is available all over the world.
Learn more about the Tanzanite and Jasper gemstones representing the 24th and 11th wedding anniversaries, respectively, in our February birthstone blog!
March’s Birthstones: Aquamarine and Bloodstone
Aquamarine, a beautiful beryl gemstone most commonly known for its light blue or blue-green color, is one of the birthstones for the month of March. Its name means “water of the sea” in Latin, reflecting its oceanic hues. Aquamarine’s clarity and transparency make it a popular choice for jewelry and decorative pieces. Most commonly found in Brazil, this gemstone scores a hardness of 7.5-8 out of 10 on the Mohs scale. Aquamarine has a rich history of beliefs and meanings, from protecting sailors to healing ailments. Today, aquamarine is believed to symbolize happiness, hope, and everlasting youth. People still highly value and gift it for its spiritual and emotional properties.
Bloodstone, also known as heliotrope, is the second birthstone for the month of March and is a unique gemstone that is most commonly known for its dark green color with red or brown speckles. The name “bloodstone” comes from the appearance of the red speckles on the gemstone resembling drops of blood, which are formed by impurities in the iron oxide. Bloodstone is also believed to have spiritual and emotional properties, such as promoting courage, strength, and vitality. In ancient folklore, bloodstone was believed to give a person clairvoyance and preservation of health. Ranking a 7 out of 10 on the Mohs scale, bloodstone makes a unique gemstone suitable for jewelry or decor.
Learn more about the Aquamarine and Bloodstone gemstones representing the 24th and 11th wedding anniversaries, respectively, in our March birthstone blog!
April’s Birthstone: Diamond
Diamond is the birthstone for the month of April and is one of the most sought-after gemstones in the world. People have treasured diamonds for thousands of years due to their unmatched brilliance and durability. Scoring a 10 out of 10 on the Mohs scale, the diamond is the hardest material known to man. In fact, the only thing that can cut a diamond is another diamond. They are associated with love and commitment, often used in engagement rings. Formed from pure carbon deep within the Earth’s mantle, it can be colorless or range from yellow, brown, pink, or blue. The value of a diamond depends on its size, clarity, cut, and color. They are believed to enhance relationships, promote mental clarity, and boost confidence.
Learn more about the Diamond gemstone representing the 2nd wedding anniversary in our April birthstone blog!
May’s Birthstones: Emerald and Agate
Emerald is one of May’s birthstones and is known for its striking green color. It’s a type of beryl gemstone with a hardness of 7.5-8 out of 10 on the Mohs scale. It is also one of the four precious gemstones along with diamonds, rubies, and sapphires. Emeralds form deep within the Earth, commonly found in countries like Colombia, Brazil, and Zambia. Some ancient cultures believed that emeralds had the power to bring good luck, enhance creativity, and soothe the soul. It was also believed that emeralds were Cleopatra’s favorite gemstone. They are thought to have many spiritual and emotional properties, such as promoting balance, harmony, and abundance.
Agate, a unique and versatile gemstone scoring a 6.5-7 out of 10 on the Mohs scale, forms from layers of chalcedony, a mineral in the quartz family. It appears in various shades of gray, white, and brown and is widely available in countries such as Brazil, India, and the United States. People have been using agate in jewelry and decorative items for thousands of years, and it remains popular today. It is believed that Agate has many spiritual and emotional properties, such as promoting inner stability, strength, and balance, enhancing mental clarity, improving focus, and increasing self-confidence.
Learn more about the Emerald and Agate gemstones representing the 35th and 39th wedding anniversaries, respectively, in our May birthstone blog!
June’s Birthstones: Pearl, Alexandrite, and Moonstone
The pearl, one of June’s birthstones, is unique among gemstones as it forms within living creatures rather than the Earth’s crust. When a mollusk secretes layers of nacre around an irritant within its shell, such as a grain of sand, pearls are created. They come in various colors, including white, black, pink, and golden, and are prized for their lustrous surface and iridescence. It only scores 2.5 out of 10 on the Mohs scale, making it one of the more delicate gemstones that need to be handled with extra care. Pearls are often associated with purity, innocence, and elegance and are believed to symbolize calmness, inner wisdom, and emotional balance.
June’s second birthstone, alexandrite, is a rare and unique gemstone known for its color-changing properties. Alexandrite was named after Alexander II, emperor of Russia because it had been discovered on his birthday. Under daylight or fluorescent light, it appears green or bluish-green, while under incandescent light, it appears reddish-purple. Countries such as Russia, Sri Lanka, and Brazil have limited quantities of Alexandrite, a type of chrysoberyl mineral. Scoring 8.5 out of 10 on the Mohs scale, it is highly valued and often used in fine jewelry because of its rarity, hardness, and color-changing abilities. People also believe that alexandrite has spiritual properties, such as promoting intuition and enhancing creativity.
June’s third and final gemstone is Moonstone. This mystical gemstone is known for its unique and iridescent sheen, which resembles the glow of the moon. Moonstone is a type of feldspar mineral, and it can come in a range of colors. Ancient people believed that moonstones had many spiritual and emotional properties, such as promoting calmness, intuition, and fertility, and associated them with lunar goddesses as a symbol of feminine energy. It ranks a 6-6.5 out of 10 on the Mohs scale and is often associated with the lunar cycle, deriving its strong & energetic power from the phases of our moon. It is believed to symbolize emotional balance, enhance creativity, and encourage inner growth.
Learn more about the Pearl, Alexandrite, and Moonstone gemstones representing the 30th, 15th and 55th, and 3rd wedding anniversaries, respectively, in our June birthstone blog!
July’s Birthstone: Ruby and Onyx
Ruby is one of the birthstones for the month of July and is a beautiful gemstone well known for its vibrant red color. This gemstone belongs to the corundum mineral family and is one of the four precious gemstones. Rubies come in deep red but can also come with a hint of blue, pink, or purplish-red hues. Similarly to diamonds, their value is based on color, clarity, carat weight, and cut. Rubies score a whopping 9 out of 10 on the Mohs scale, making them one of the hardest gemstones behind diamonds. People believed that rubies protected wearers from harm and brought good fortune, and they associated rubies with love and passion. Rubies are still commonly used in fine jewelry and are thought to promote vitality and self-confidence.
Onyx, the second birthstone of July, is a unique gemstone most commonly known for its solid black color. Its name derives from the Greek word “onyx” meaning “fingernail.” In Greek mythology, it was believed that Venus’s fingernails were cut by Cupid and left on the ground around her. The God’s then turned those clippings into stone, which later became onyx. Soring a 6.5-7 out of 10 on the Mohs scale, onyx is a variety of chalcedony found in many countries, including Brazil, India, and the United States. People believe that onyx has many spiritual and emotional properties, such as promoting strength, focus, and protection against negative energy. It is also believed that onyx can help a person recover from heartbreak.
Learn more about the Ruby and Onyx gemstones representing the 15th and 40th, and 7th and 10th wedding anniversaries, respectively, in our July birthstone blog!
August’s Birthstones: Sardonyx, Spinel, and Peridot
Sardonyx is a unique and beautiful chalcedony gemstone that is made up of bands of red-brown sard and white onyx. Originally, it was the only birthstone for August until peridot and spinel were later added. Sardonyx can be found in many countries around the world, including India, Brazil, and the United States. In ancient times, it was believed to have the power to bring courage, strength, and protection to the wearer. It was also used for wax seals and was worn as a talisman to ward off negative energy. It has a hardness of 6.5 out of 10 on the Mohs scale and its spiritual and emotional properties include promoting courage, self-control, and motivation.
One of August’s birthstones is spinel, a gemstone that comes in almost every color. It was once believed to be the same gemstone as ruby and sapphire until it was distinguished as its own unique mineral in the late 19th century. Spinel is found in several countries around the world, including Sri Lanka, Tanzania, and Myanmar. Spinel is highly valued for its brilliance and durability, scoring a 7.5-8 out of 10 on the Mohs scale. The most prized spinels have a bright red or pink color, similar to that of ruby, and are often used as a less expensive alternative to ruby. Spinel’s spiritual properties include enhancing vitality, promoting positive energy, and bringing a sense of peace and calm to the wearer.
Peridot is the second birthstone for the month of August and is a stunning gemstone known for its bright green color. It is a variety of olivine minerals and is formed deep within the Earth’s mantle. Ranking a 6.5-7 out of 10 on the Mohs scale, peridot is often found in Egypt, Myanmar, and the United States. It was once believed to have the power to ward off evil spirits and protect the wearer from nightmares. It has also been used to symbolize strength, courage, and abundance. Historians believe that Cleopatra’s favorite gemstone, emerald, may have actually been peridot. It is thought to have many spiritual and emotional properties, such as promoting positivity, happiness, and confidence.
Learn more about the Peridot, green Spinel, and Sardonyx gemstones representing the 1st, 9th, and 44th wedding anniversaries in our August birthstone blog!
September’s Birthstone: Sapphire
Sapphire is the only birthstone for the month of September and is known for its rich blue color, although it can also be found in other colors such as pink, yellow, and green. It is a variety of the mineral corundum formed deep within the Earth’s crust under intense pressure and heat. Sapphires are one of the four precious gemstones and one of the hardest gemstones, scoring a 9 out of 10 on the Mohs scale. They have been used as a symbol of power and royalty, with one of the most famous sapphire jewelry pieces being Princess Diana’s sapphire engagement ring. Sapphire’s spiritual and emotional properties include promoting peace, clarity, and emotional balance.
Learn more about the Sapphire gemstone representing the 5th and 45th wedding anniversaries in our September birthstone blog!
October’s Birthstones: Opal and Tourmaline
Opal is one of the two birthstones for the month of October and is a unique gemstone that is highly valued for its iridescence. It is formed from silica and is most commonly found in Australia, Ethiopia, and Mexico. Opals come in a wide range of colors, from milky white to black, and can even have flashes of red, orange, and green. Scoring a 5-6.5 out of 10 on the Mohs scale, the most valuable opals have bright and vibrant hues, also known as “fire”. Some cultures believed that opals had the power to bring good luck and protect the wearer from harm, while others considered them a symbol of hope and purity. They are also believed to promote creativity, spontaneity, and emotional healing.
Tourmaline is the second October birthstone and comes in various colors, formed from aluminum, boron, and silicon. Significant deposits are found in Brazil, Sri Lanka, and East Africa. These gemstones can be pink, green, blue, yellow, and black, with some having multiple colors. There’s even a type of tourmaline called “Watermelon Tourmaline,” which displays green and reddish-pink hues similar to a watermelon. Tourmalines are known for their unique optical properties, such as their ability to become electrically charged when heated or rubbed. Tourmalines rank a 7-7.5 out of 10 on the Mohs scale and are thought to promote self-confidence, health, creativity, and protection.
Learn more about the Opal and Tourmaline gemstones representing the 14th and 8th wedding anniversaries, respectively, in our October birthstone blog!
November’s Birthstones: Topaz and Citrine
Topaz is the first birthstone for November and is a stunning gemstone that comes in various colors, including yellow, orange, pink, blue, and brown. It is a mineral that is formed deep within the Earth’s crust under high pressure and heat. Topaz is found all over the world, but its most significant deposits are located in Utah, USA. Topaz is also one of the most durable gemstones of them all, scoring an 8 out of 10 on the Mohs sale. It is believed to promote strength, healing, and good fortune. Fun fact: the largest faceted gemstone ever discovered was a topaz, named the “El Dorado Topaz,” which weighed a whopping 31,000 carats!
Citrine is the second birthstone for November and is a beautiful gemstone with a warm golden hue. It is a type of quartz gemstone and is also the second most abundant mineral on Earth. Its found in many countries, including Brazil, Madagascar, and the United States. Its colors can range from pale yellow to dark orange and score a 7 out of 10 on the Mohs scale. Citrine’s popularity skyrocketed in Hollywood in the 1920s and 1930s after actress Greta Garbo was revealed to have a large collection of citrine jewelry. Citrine symbolizes positivity, abundance, and creativity and in ancient times, it was known as “the money stone” as it was believed to bring wealth and success to the wearer.
Learn more about the blue Topaz and Citrine gemstones representing the 4th and 13th wedding anniversaries, respectively, in our November birthstone blog!
December’s Birthstones: Tanzanite, Zircon, and Turquoise
Tanzanite, one of December’s birthstones, is a rare and highly valued gemstone that was first discovered in Tanzania in the 1960s. It is a type of zoisite mineral that is known for its distinctive blue-violet color, which ranges from pale lavender to deep purple. Tanzanite is typically found in only one location in the world, which is the Mererani Hills of northern Tanzania, and gets its name from its country of origin. Due to its limited supply and high demand, tanzanite is considered one of the world’s most rare and precious gemstones. Tanzanite is believed to promote wisdom, insight, and spiritual enlightenment. Tanzanite ranks 6-7 out of 10 on the Mohs scale and is a popular choice for engagement rings and other special occasion pieces.
Turquoise, December’s second birthstone, is a beautiful blue-green gemstone that is the traditional birthstone for the month of December. Turquoise is a mineral that scores a 5 to 6 out of 10 on the Mohs scale. It forms in dry, arid regions and is often found in the southwestern United States, Mexico, and Iran. Contrary to popular belief, the color turquoise was actually named after the gemstone, not the other way around. The vein-like markings you see on turquoise are actually called “the matrix,” and these markings actually lower the value of turquoise. Some Native American tribes believed that turquoise brought good luck, protection against evil, and healing. In ancient Egypt, it was used to decorate the tombs of pharaohs and was believed to have protective properties.
The third and final birthstone for the month of December is Zircon. Zircon is a stunning gemstone that comes in colors from blue, brown, and yellow. It is a mineral that forms from the crystallization of magma and is commonly found in countries such as Sri Lanka, Cambodia, and Madagascar. Zircon’s hardness ranks 6-7.5 out of 10 on the Mohs scale and has been used in jewelry for thousands of years. During the Middle Ages, zircon was believed to get rid of evil spirits, reduce sleep, as well as bring wisdom, honor, and wealth. Scientists actually believe that zircon exists on the sun and it’s also been found in lunar rocks from the moon. Zircon is known for its brilliance and fire, which makes it a popular choice for engagement rings and other fine jewelry.
Learn more about the Tanzanite, blue Zircon, and Turquoise gemstones representing the 24th, 4th, and 11th wedding anniversaries, respectively, in our December birthstone blog!
Replacing Your Missing Birthstone
Thinking about restoring a loved one’s sentimental birthstone piece? You’re in the right place to restore their precious memories.
Gemstones provide life and brilliance to any piece of jewelry, yet have the highest potential to damage. Whether it be a loose, lost, or scratched-up birthstone, we take restoring the life of your treasures seriously. Any gem, any damage, we’ll make your jewelry sparkle as bright as the day you got it.
We have a team of specialists in place to properly source every type of gem needed for your treasured item. We understand your gemstones are unique and require specific attention. Our Professional Stone Sourcing team makes sure that all of your gems, even the ones that sometimes go unnoticed, are replaced by stones of the right caliber for your piece.
Visit our Gemstone Replacement Services page to learn more about restoring the brilliance of your birthstone.
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