The Lowdown on Birthstones

The Lowdown on Birthstones

All About Birthstones

An Introduction to Birthstones

Birthstones are gemstones that correspond with an individual’s birth month, with a history dating back to biblical times. Aaron’s breastplate contained 12 gemstones, each representing one of the 12 tribes of Israel. Historically, people wore all 12 birthstones throughout the year, believing each stone endowed them with unique powers or benefits.

By the 16th and 18th centuries, the trend shifted towards wearing a single stone associated with one’s birth month. In 1912, the National Association of Jewelers in America published the list of modern birthstones that is still in use today.

This article will take you through each birthstone, providing detailed information about them.

January – Garnet

Garnet, derived from the Latin word granatum meaning seed, is January’s birthstone. The gemstone resembles the red seeds of a pomegranate. Garnet is naturally sourced in Greece, Sri Lanka, India, Tanzania, Czech Republic, Russia, and Madagascar.

Though red is the most popular color, garnet also appears in orange and green hues. This gemstone is associated with happiness, purpose, and goodwill.

Garnets are believed to bring health, peace, and success, as well as heal wounds and boost metabolism. It is even considered an anti-depressant. Historically, warriors wore garnets for protection, and in Egypt, the stone symbolized life itself. Fine jewelry incorporating garnet makes for a meaningful gift.

February – Amethyst

Amethyst, February’s birthstone, is the world’s most popular purple gemstone. The color spectrum ranges from light to dark purple, including violet, deep, and reddish-purple shades.

In ancient Greece and Rome, amethyst was believed to counteract the effects of Bacchus. Wearers were thought to gain clarity of mind.

Though amethyst can be found worldwide, Brazil is the primary source today. Modern wearers may experience enhanced creativity and passion. Amethyst is often used in meditation for stability and harmony and is thought to balance hormones and boost immunity.

March – Aquamarine

Aquamarine, the birthstone for March, reflects the serene color of water, as its name suggests, derived from Latin words for water (aqua) and sea (marina). Major sources include Brazil, Nigeria, Madagascar, Zambia, Pakistan, and Mozambique.

Though typically blue, aquamarine can have varying blue shades, some with a hint of green. This gemstone aids in meditation and prayer, promoting calmness and tranquility.

Aquamarine is claimed to help treat sinus issues, allergies, and respiratory conditions, as well as gum and teeth problems. Historically, Greeks and Romans valued aquamarine as a rare treasure connected to mermaids. Sailors kept it on ships for protection, and soldiers carried it in wars. Aquamarine jewelry can be a thoughtful gift for those born in March, offering a sense of safety.

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April – Diamond

April’s birthstone, the Diamond, is the most renowned and luxurious gemstone worldwide. Its name combines Greek words adamas and diaphanus, meaning unbreakable and transparent. Key sources include Australia, Botswana, Canada, South Africa, and Russia.

Though primarily transparent, diamonds may exhibit a white tinge, known for their ability to refract light into a prism of colors. They are among the most expensive gemstones available.

Diamonds are believed to imbue radiance, energy, and light into environments and souls. Their hardness symbolizes strength and clarity, helpful in stress management.

Ancient Greek warriors wore diamonds for perceived invincibility, while Romans used them to represent purity and innocence. Since the Renaissance, diamonds have epitomized engagement rings.

May – Emerald

Emerald, the birthstone for May, symbolizes rebirth and is believed to confer youth and good fortune. Its name comes from the Greek word smaragdus meaning green.

First mined in Egypt around 330 B.C., Cleopatra was known to collect emeralds. Currently, major sources include Colombia, Brazil, Afghanistan, and Zambia.

Emeralds display a range of green shades, from pure green to yellow-green or blue-green. The gemstone is credited with mystical powers, including transforming negative energy into positive. Historically, simply gazing at an emerald was believed to cure stomach and skin problems.

June – Alexandrite

June features three birthstones: Alexandrite, pearl, and moonstone.

Pearl, the traditional birthstone, is unique as it originates from living sea creatures and requires no polishing. Commercially cultured since the 1900s, cultured pearls have largely replaced natural ones.

Alexandrite, a modern gem, was discovered in 1831 by Czar Alexander II. Known for its chameleon-like appearance, Alexandrite is bright green by day and turns purple-red under incandescent lighting.

Moonstone, the third June birthstone, seems to change with the moon’s phases. In India, it’s considered sacred, typically appearing white or gray with a silvery glow.

July – Ruby

The birthstone for July is Ruby, one of the world’s most celebrated red gemstones. The name ruby originates from the Latin word rubeus, meaning red. Rubies are primarily found in Burma, Vietnam, Thailand, India, the United States, East Africa, and the Middle East.

Ruby’s rich red tones can vary, including orangy-red, purplish-red, and plain red shades. Natural rubies are incredibly expensive, making lab-grown versions more popular.

Historically, rubies symbolized passion and protection, often used to enhance awareness and energy in critical situations.

In historical times, it was believed that the ruby could ward off various diseases, including the plague.

Nowadays, the ruby is reputed to balance energies and invigorate when needed. It is often used for stimulating the chakra or igniting passions. Physically, this gemstone is commonly employed when addressing issues within the body, heart, and respiratory system.

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August – Peridot

August boasts three gemstones: Peridot, Spinel, and Sardonyx. The origin of the name Peridot is debated, but the most widely accepted theory points to Greece, from the word “peridona,” meaning giving plenty. This gem is frequently found in China, Arizona, Myanmar, Pakistan, and Africa.

Peridot belongs to the olivine gem variety and can be discovered in basalt flows, a type of igneous rock formed from volcanic lava, as well as in meteorites that have fallen to Earth.

Known for stimulating psychological clarity, happiness, and understanding, Peridot can also support the digestive system and maintain internal balance.

September – Sapphire

The birthstone for September is the Sapphire. Its name derives from the Latin “sapphirus” and the Greek “sappheiros,” both meaning blue stone, perfectly describing the Sapphire.

Sapphires are commonly found in Montana, with some of the finest specimens sourced there. Other notable locations include Kashmir, Burma, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Vietnam, and India.

Symbolizing loyalty, integrity, nobility, and sincerity, Sapphires are ideal for channeling high powers, enhancing focus, and improving self-discipline. They are also believed to be a cure-all for various illnesses or physical issues. Sapphire jewelry makes an excellent gift for those born in September.

October – Tourmaline

October’s birthstone is Tourmaline, named from the Sinhalese words “tura mali,” meaning stone of mixed colors. It can be found in Brazil, Sri Lanka, Nigeria, Mozambique, Madagascar, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and the United States. Tourmalines are unique because they don’t have a specific color; they are always mixed, appearing in various color combinations.

Tourmaline is said to inspire a positive attitude in its wearers, leading to an overall sense of happiness. Historically, it was believed to assist those struggling with organ issues or hormone production.

In China, Tourmalines have been used in ceremonies for centuries. Ancient magicians used black Tourmaline to protect against negative energies.

November – Topaz

The birthstone for November is Topaz, derived from “Topazios,” the ancient Greek name for St. Johns Island in the Red Sea. Topaz can be found in Brazil, Pakistan, India, Sri Lanka, Russia, Nigeria, Germany, and the United States.

Pure Topaz is colorless, but it can exhibit a variety of colors such as blue, brown, pink, or yellow, often due to impurities in the stone. Some hues, like the rich orange tint of Imperial Topaz, are particularly desirable.

As one of the hardest gemstones, Topaz ranks just below diamonds, rubies, and sapphires in hardness. The most commonly purchased Topaz color is blue, although natural blue Topaz is both rare and expensive.

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Believed to act as an antidepressant and improve brain function, Topaz is also thought to provide strength for those grappling with issues of faith and trust. In ancient Rome, it was used to impart strength during combat and prevent injury, while Hindus believed it safeguarded their homes, heart, beauty, and intelligence.

December – Turquoise

The birthstone for December is Turquoise, gaining popularity recently. Its name is derived from the French word “tourques,” meaning Turkish stone. Although harder to find than some other gemstones, Turquoise is located in Iran and the United States.

Turquoise boasts a unique color range, from light powdery blue to greenish-blue, akin to a robin’s egg, and sometimes even features a hint of yellow.

With a history spanning thousands of years, Turquoise was used by Native Americans for over 2000 years. Ancient Egyptians revered its protective powers, while Persians embedded it in swords and daggers. Turquoise is believed to heal and cleanse the body of illness and aid in understanding, kindness, trust, and more. It also helps with exhaustion, depression, or anxiety attacks.

Historically, Greeks utilized sapphire for guidance when seeking answers from high powers. Buddhists believed it could aid in enlightenment and spirituality. Hindus wore sapphire during prayer and worship.

FAQs

Which is the most valuable birthstone?

The most valuable birthstone is the diamond. It is the most expensive and most sought-after of all the birthstones.

Are birthstones real gems?

Birthstones are real gems. Some are found naturally while others are lab-grown. Some come with colors that occur naturally while others have been altered to have a specific color.

What finger does a birthstone go on?

While there are no rules about what finger you have to wear your birthstone on, the pinky or little finger is the most commonly chosen finger. This is because the pinky finger attracts the most attention when paired with a gemstone.

Are lab diamonds better in terms of quality?

Lab diamonds are essentially identical to naturally mined diamonds. Their chemical, physical, and visual properties are the same. Lab diamonds are often more affordable and sometimes more ethical with a lower environmental impact.

Which is the best cut for a lab-diamond?

The round brilliant diamond is the best cut for a lab diamond. This is because it has 57 aligned facets. Light travels through this cut of diamond making it sparkle and outshine the others.

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