Jewellery worn with birthstones is a super popular trend and we are regularly asked by email, phone or by our visitors to the studio 'What is my Birthstone', so we've put together this handy guide to the birthstones by month including their colour, properties and interesting history and lore. Wearing your birthstone is a way of connecting to your birth month and was traditionally believed to bring you power and prosperity when worn in the month of your birth.
We love how the addition of a birthstone to a piece of jewellery can make it more meaningful and personal for the wearer, so we have recently added birthstone charms to some of our name necklaces, initial necklaces and personalised jewellery. We really love the emerging trend on a mum necklace for a Mum to wear her child's initial together with their birthstone. You may not love your own birthstone, so it's fine to mix and match also and to see birthstones as a pop of colour on a piece of jewellery. You can shop our collection of birthstone jewellery here.
The History of Birthstones
The oldest known record of the use of birthstones dates back to the book of Exodus in the Bible where the 'breastplate of Aaron' the High Priest of the Hebrews, was inlaid with 12 gemstones; emerald, sapphire, diamond, topaz, carbuncle, sardius, agate, ligure, amethyst, onyx, jasper and beryl. The birthstones later became associated with the 12 signs of the zodiac and it was believed that a person should own all 12 gemstones and wear them on the corresponding month! The modern use of birthstones is believed to originate in Poland in the 18th century where gem traders promoted the sale of each birthstone based on a person's birth month.
There are different types and variations of birthstones and there are specific colours associated with each birth month. Birthstones are sometimes identified as 'precious' gemstones found most often in fine jewellery and 'semi-precious' gemstones found in 'demi-fine' jewellery. So what are the birthstones for each month ?
Colour: Red Birthstone: Garnet
Properties: Symbol of friendship and trust and eternal love!
Garnet stones are deep red in colour and this is how the gemstone got its name as the word garnet comes from the 14th century word 'gernet' which meant 'dark red'. Interesting fact: Garnets are known for their abrasive properties and when mixed with water pressure garnet is used to cut steel and other materials in water jets !
Colour: Purple Birthstone: Amethyst
Properties: Brings the wearer clarity
Amethysts are part of the quartz family of gemstones. The name comes from the Greek word 'amethystos' - meaning not intoxicate as the stone was believed to protect the owner from getting drunk ! Amethyst is traditionally loved as a royal stone and is seen in royal crowns and royal jewellery. In Tibet, amethyst is considered to be sacred to the Buddha and prayer beads are made from amethyst.
Colour: Pale Blue Birthstone: Aquamarine
Properties: Helps the wearer to stay calm and centered
Aquamarine is named after the the latin word for the sea - 'aqua' meaning water and 'marina' meaning sea. Aquamarine is loved for it's light blue colour and was used as stone of protection in Greek and Roman times for sailors setting out on a voyage.
Colour: Clear Birthstones: Clear Quartz / Diamonds
Properties: A symbol of purity and innocence
Diamonds are pure carbon and are the hardest substance known on earth. Diamonds were commonly used for engraving tools because of their hardness. Diamonds were first used in the engagement ring in Renaissance times and this was popularised by De Beers in the 20th century as a marketing campaign for diamonds.
Clear quartz is often worn as a semi-precious alternative to diamonds as the April birthstone.
Colour: Green Birthstone: Emerald
Properties: Good fortune
Emeralds have been considered one of the most precious stones for many centuries because of their rarity and can cost many more times that of a diamond. They are loved for their deep green colour. Emeralds were the most loved gemstone of the Egyptian queen Cleopatra.
Gemstones with the same deep green colour of emeralds such as emerald jade and green onyx, are commonly worn as a semi-precious alternative birthstones for May.
Colour: White Birthstone: Pearl / Moonstone
Properties: Feminine energy
Pearls are formed as a result of irritation to the body of a mollusk such as an oyster. Trying to sooth the irritation, the mollusk produces layer upon layer of 'nacre' until a pearl is formed. Rather romantically, the Ancient Greeks believed that the birthstone pearl, was the tears of Aphrodite, the Goddess of Love. Pearls have been loved throughout history in jewellery designs and they were thought to symbolise purity of the wearer. There are two main types of pearls - saltwater pearls such as akoya pearls, from oysters and freshwater pearls from mussels which come in many shapes and sizes.
Colour: Red or Orange Birthstone: Ruby / Carnelian
Properties: Inner Joy and Vitality
While ruby is the precious birthstone for July, Carnelian is the zodiac and semi-precious birthstone for the month. The word carnelian comes from the latin word cornum, or cornel cherry, because the red fruits looks like the stone. Carnelian was widely used in Roman times to make engravings for signet and sea rings for imprinting seals on wax.
Colour: Green Birthstone: Peridot
Properties: Health and restful sleep
Peridot has a bright, vibrant glowing green colour and is the birthstone for August. In Hawaiian folklore, peridot was a symbol of the tears of the goddess Pele - as the mineral that makes up peridot if found along plate boundary areas such as Hawaii. Today, nearly all of the world's peridot comes from the San Carlos Apache Indian Reservation in Arizona !
Colour: Deep Blue Birthstones Sapphire / Lapis Lazuli
Properties: Inspiring wisdom and truth
We love September's semi-precious birthstone lapis lazuli. It has a deep enchanting blue colour, often with flecks of gold and white. The Ancient Egyptians also had good taste as this stone was highly prized in their culture and has been found in their jewellery and decorative objects, including in the funeral mask of Tutankhamun. Lapis lazuli was also ground up into a powder in Renaissance times and used as a painting pigment by artists such as Vermeer !
Colour: Pink Birthstone: Tourmaline / Opal
Opal Properties: Healing and protection
Opals come in different colours and the most commonly found opals are from Australia. Pink opals are sometimes called 'a stone of hope' and are found in the Andes, where they have been considered a 'sacred stone' for thousands of years.
Colour: Yellow Birthstone: Citrine / Topaz
Citrine Properties: Soothing and calming
Citrine is the perfect bright, sunny stone to brighten up the cold month of November. Citrine comes is a pale yellow to browinsh colour and gets its name from citrus fruit because of the its colour tones. In ancient times, it was believed that citrine could manifest peoples wishes and desires, especially prosperity so citrine was used as a tailsman by the Ancient Egyptians and worn in fabulous decorative rings by Roman priests.
Colour: Blue Birthstones: Turquoise / Zircon / Tanzanite
Turquoise Properties: Power and protection
Turquoise has been loved for centuries as a gemstone and has been used for adorning everything from jewellery, to palace domes in Ancient Persia and the iconic Indian Taj Mahal. Turquoise was much loved by Native Amercians, particularly Navajo Indians and used by their craftspeople to create exquisite jewellery. Much turquoise is still produced in the US today.
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