Birthstones

June 22nd, 2021
Categorized under: Jewelry

Birthstones have a long and storied past that has evolved over many cultures. If you’re a historian at heart, and passionate about gems, birthstones are a treasure trove of records to explore!

In Eastern cultures, Navaratna, a Sanskrit word for nine gems, is connected to astrology and mythology and is also tied to Hindu, Jainism, and Buddism. There are nine gems of the Navaratna: Ruby (Sun), Pearl (Moon), Red Coral (Mars), Emerald (Budha), Yellow Sapphire (Jupiter), Diamond (Venus), Blue Sapphire (Saturn), Hessonite (Ascending Lunar Node), and Cat’s Eye (Descending Lunar Node). You typically see this arrangement with the ruby as the central stone with the others encircling it. For the wearer of a Navaratna, it is a talisman of wellbeing and good health.

The nine gems of the Navaratna

In Western cultures, a connection was made by an ancient historian in the first century, Josephus, linking a bejeweled breastplate of an ancient Israeli priest to the months and zodiac. When Josephus was translating the text he actually created two possible lists for the twelve stones. Part of this confusion stems translating ancient names that have multiple root words listed for both their color and material properties since each root could very well be its own unique mineral. Deciphering this list is very much the work of a gem detective! Some gems that are thought to be included in the breastplate are Sard, Topaz, Emerald, Turquoise, Sapphire, Diamond, Amber, Agate, Amethyst, Lapis Lazuli, Onyx, and Ruby.

A hypothetical configuration of 12 stones representing the tribes of Israel on Aaron’s breastplate.

Traditional birthstones evolved with their societies and popularity. Poems for each month by an author unknown in 1870 aligned with the Georgian calendar and created this gemstones list: Garnets (January), Amethyst (February), Bloodstone (March), Diamonds (April), Emerald (May), Agate (June), Ruby (July), Sardonyx (August), Sapphire (September), Opal (October), Topaz (November), and Turquoise (December).

In modern times, to ease the confusion of so many birthstones, the National Association of Jewelers sought to standardize the list in 1912. As time has passed, additional birthstones have been added and replaced, which is why you might think of multiple birthstone examples for each month now.

Here is the most current list:

Modern Birthstones
JanuaryGarnet
FebruaryAmethyst
MarchAquamarine
AprilDiamond
MayEmerald
JuneAlexandrite, Pearl, Moonstone
JulyRuby
AugustPeridot, Spinel
SeptemberSapphire
OctoberOpal, Tourmaline
NovemberCitrine, Topaz
DecemberTurquoise, Blue Zircon, Tanzanite

Despite your list, era, or culture, we can all agree there is something captivating about having a gemstone to represent you, and the time you were born. We’ve assembled some of our most favorite custom jewelry pieces featuring birthstones and tips for how to create your own stunning piece of birthstone jewelry.


January • Garnet

The word Garnet originates from the Latin word for pomegranate, and it’s easy to see why! Garnets are most known for their deeply enchanting red with deep pink tones, although they do come in a variety of other colors.

Garnets are thought to bring the wearer happiness, good health, and safety in times of travel.


February • Amethyst

Due to their deep purple, amethysts have long been associated with wine. In Greek myths, Baccus the god of wine was often associated with the gem. Wearing amethyst was also thought to offer a remedy of sobriety to the wearer in times of indulgence.

Amethysts are talismans of inner strength and courage.


March • Aquamarine

The iconic and tranquil blue of an aquamarine is iconic. With Latin roots from the word for seawater, it’s said sailors would carry aquamarines to calm the waters.

Aquamarines are believed by some to sharpen the intellect and calm the energy of the wearer.


April • Diamond

From the Greek word for unbreakable, Diamonds are the hardest naturally occurring material. Ancient Greek warriors would wear diamonds to bring them strength and invincibility.

Diamonds are thought to have healing powers and bring longevity, and happiness.


May • Emerald

Said to restore eyesight, it was also believed by the Romans that if you placed an Emerald under your tongue you would be able to see into the future! We adore emeralds for their green unlike any other gem.

Emeralds symbolize growth, wisdom, and hope.


June • Pearl

Pearls are an incredibly unique gemstone because they are the only ones created by a living organism!

Pearls are said to bring longevity and humility to the wearer.


June • Alexandrite

A very rare (even rarer than diamonds), color-changing mineral, Alexandrites were discovered in the 1830s in Russia’s Ural mountains while mining for emeralds. The name Alexandrite comes from the find occurring on the date of Prince Alexander II’s birthday that very day!

Alexandrites are said to encourage romance and provide hope to the wearer.

Gem No. ACG5111-6215


June • Moonstone

In Hindu mythology it is believed that moonstones are created from solidified moon beams. Popular during the Art Nouveau period, we love the flowing color captured within.

Moonstones are bearers of love and luck.


July • Ruby

With a ‘blood’ red color, rubies were thought to carry a life force within them. In Indian lore, it was thought that rubies allowed their wearers to exist peacefully with one’s enemies.

Rubies offer safety and bring good health to their wearers.


August • Peridot

Prized by Egyptians as the ‘gem of the sun,’ peridots set in yellow gold were said to protect the wearer from dangers in the night.

Peridot is said to balance the emotions and bring cheer.


September • Sapphire

In medieval times, sapphires were associated with heaven and were well sought after to attract blessings from above. Clergy too wore sapphires to reference their heavenly connections. Sapphires are most well known for their deep shades of blue, but they actually come in an array of amazing colors!


October • Opal

The name Opal comes from the Roman name ‘Opalus’ -meaning precious stone. Their energetic play of color often created a connection to the supernatural. In Arabic legend, it is believed that opals are flashes of lighting in the heavens that have fallen to Earth. Opals were also credited with preserving life and even the color of blonde hair!

Considered one of the luckiest gemstones, it is said to be bad luck to wear opals if it is not your birthstone.


October • Tourmaline

Did you know that one of the earliest sources of tourmaline was in California? In 1892 it was discovered in the state and was thereafter marketed widely in China because of the Dowager Empress Tx’u Hsi’s affinity for the pink and red color. Tourmalines come in shades of red to pink and green, yellow and teal. Split color tourmalines are especially enchanting!

Tourmaline is said to be a protective and healing gemstone.

Tourmaline


November • Citrine

A gemstone well-loved by Queen Victoria, Citrine was very popular in the British Isles. Citrine was frequently chosen for Scottish jewelry pieces including sash brooches and pins for securing kilts. The gem later experienced another resurgence in Europe during the Art Deco movement that originated in France.

A citrine gem is believed to protect against evil thoughts and bring prosperity.

Gem No. OTH032516


December • Tanzanite

Discovered more recently in 1967 in Tanzania, tanzanite gemstones offer a beautiful blend of blue and violet colors.

Tourmaline is thought to inspire creativity and bring and ease broken hearts.

Gem No. STOCKEAT-1


December • Blue Zircon

Zircon in its colorless form was once the most iconic ‘color’ of this gem and was noted for being excellent diamond replacements. Today, the opposite is true, and we most know the gemstone variety most for the enchanting blue colorations. In the Middle Ages, zircon was thought to bring restful sleep, and keep away unwanted spirits.

Zircon is thought to create a zest and passion for life in addition to building relationships.


Design Tips

Consider the size and durability of your birthstone in your custom design.

For small melée accents in rings, you need gemstones that are both durable and saturated. Often the color of birthstones isn’t as vibrant at such a small size, and they are more fragile gemstones over-all (with the exception of diamonds, sapphires, and rubies). Our designers will often recommend colored diamonds to make sure you don’t have to replace stones as frequently.

Wear your fragile birthstones with care.

Earrings and Pendants are great ways to wear more fragile birthstones as they won’t encounter as much wear and contact with other objects.