Meanings of Birthstones - and why they’re special

by Nancy Plante April 03, 2017

Meanings of Birthstones - and why they’re special

We’ve noticed that people have been buying a lot of colored gems at our store lately. Many of them are looking for their birthstone. While we’re the furthest from New Age that we could be, and we’re not exactly avid astrologers, we admit that jewelry is usually special because we instill it with meaning. On that note, here is the meaning behind the birthstones for all 12 months of the year.

January Birthstone

The birthstone for January is Garnet.  Garnets are known for their deep red color, but they also come in green, yellow, and orange.  Red garnets fall into different varieties, such as almandine, the most common, deep red; and rhodolite, a more pinkish or rosy red.They have been said to represent love when presented as a gift, and in ancient times were rumored to protect the wearer during travel.


The garnet is one of the most plentiful and durable precious gems. If your birthday is in January, consider yourself lucky to have a birthstone that is suitable for wearing every day, and that comes in a choice of beautiful colors.


February Birthstone

The birthstone for February is Amethyst. This violet quartz was believed to have a number of powers of protection in mythology. The ancient Greeks, for instance, put amethyst stones on their goblets and cups because they believed it to protect against intoxication. In fact, the name “amethyst” comes from the greek word for “sober,” and it was thought to generally represent sobriety and sanity. This gemstone ranges from pale to very deep violet. 

 


It’s fun to have amethyst for your birthstone, because, depending on the colors you like to wear, you can choose the deep, rich purple tone of royalty, or a lighter, lavender shade.


March Birthstone

The birthstone for March is Aquamarine. Aquamarine was given its name because its blue to greenish-blue color is like that of ocean water. Because of its association with the ocean, it was worn by sailors, to protect them from harm. It also  enhances the happiness of marriage.

 


Aquamarine has a beautiful transparency and sparkle. Its pale blue color can be worn as a neutral, which makes it easy to wear every day. Very large crystals can be found, which makes it suitable for larger cut gems and carvings.


April Birthstone

 

The birthstone for April is Diamond. It is, of course, the symbol of unbreakable love and devotion. Diamonds have been considered the most valuable of all precious gems by a huge number of cultures, including our own.  


The brilliance of diamonds has fascinated people for centuries, and in ancient India, they were believed to be fragments of fallen stars.  Their pure whiteness gives a special sparkle, and diamonds also occur (rarely)  in other colors: pink, yellow, brown, orange, green, red, and blue (like the famous Hope Diamond).

 

A century ago, ladies were not supposed to wear diamonds before 5 in the evening. Today, we wear them all day, every day -- that’s much more fun!

May Birthstone

The birthstone for May is Emerald.  It has had different meanings in different cultures, but in ancient times it was associated with love, rebirth, and the Roman goddess Venus. It is known that this gem was a favorite of Cleopatra’s.

 


Carat for carat, emeralds can be more costly than diamonds. They are more prone to imperfection than other gems, making high-quality emeralds extremely valuable.  Their rich green color is the perfect hue for spring and May birthdays.


June Birthstone

June has two birthstones: Pearl and Alexandrite.The pearl has important symbolic associations since ancient times. Because of its solid color and smooth shape, the pearl has been called a symbol of purity. The Greeks believed that pearls were formed from the tears of Aphrodite, goddess of love.


Unlike other birthstones, pearls are formed within the bodies of shelled mollusks, such as oysters and clams, rather than in the earth. Natural pearls are incredible rare and valuable, and most pearls on the market today were cultured through human intervention. Pearls occur in different colors, from white to cream to rose, to black Tahitian pearls.


Alexandrite is a rare and very unusual gemstone. It exhibits a color change, which is described as “emerald by day, ruby by night”. Fine quality alexandrite with strong color change appears bluish-green in daylight and purplish-red under artificial light.


Alexandrite is named after a czar of Russia. It is considered to bring good luck.


July Birthstone

The birthstone for July is Ruby. Known for centuries as “The King of Gems”, today it is usually considered to symbolize love and passion.

 

Ruby is actually a variety of gem-quality corundum, making it the same type of mineral as sapphire. The difference between them is color.  Rubies are red, and sapphires can be blue, pink, purple, orange, yellow, green -- any color except red. Second in hardness to diamonds, rubies are safe to wear every day and are perfect for engagement rings too.

August Birthstone

August now has two birthstones. The traditional one is Peridot.. Last year, the powers that be of the gem world chose Spinel as an additional birthstone for August.  Lucky August people, you have two vibrant choices for your birthstone!

 


Peridot is a light green gem, one of very few gems that only appears in a single color. Because of its color, Peridot was often confused with Emerald in antiquity. Peridot is believed to bring calmness and dissolve anger. This bright gem is fun to wear with summery, blue and green clothing.  


Spinel is a beautiful gemstone that occurs in many colors: pink, red, purple, blue, yellow, brown and black.  Pinks can range from pale to deeper tones, and pink spinel is thought have a calming energy that reduces stress in the wearer.


A famous gemstone in England’s State Crown, called “The Black Prince’s Ruby,” is actually a red spinel.

September Birthstone

 

The birthstone for September is Sapphire. This stone comes in a wide variety of colors from the traditional blue sapphire, to pink-orange padparadscha. (There are no red sapphires; red gemstones of this mineral are called Rubies). It symbolizes purity and wisdom, and has been considered one of the most precious of gems since the dawning of civilization.

 

The vast majority of sapphires are treated using heat to create a more brilliant hue. 1% or less of sapphires are gem quality when they are first taken from the earth.  Those untreated sapphire are rare and valuable.


October Birthstone

October has two birthstones: Opal and Tourmaline.


Opal is an interesting gemstone, unlike any other.  Because it diffracts light, resulting in colors that change when viewed from different angles (“play of color”), each opal is unique.  The body color can be white, or almost as dark as black, or, rarely, brown.


Believed to stimulate originality and creativity in its wearer, opal is a soft gemstone that deserves special care.  If you must wear an opal ring, remove it when you are doing physical activity. Opal is best suited to earrings, necklaces and pins, rather than rings and bracelets.


Tourmaline occurs in more colors than any other gemstone. An old legend states that tourmaline traveled to earth along a rainbow, and gathered all the colors. Pink tourmaline can range in tone from pale, dusty pink, to deeper, more saturated pink. Rubellite is a rare variety of tourmaline that is exceptionally vivid, deep purplish-pink.


Since tourmaline comes in so many colors, it’s fun to personalize your birthstone by choosing one of the other hues for your own.  Blues, light and dark; greens from lime to deep forest green; yellows and browns, red, or colorless-- there are so many choices!.  You can even have a watermelon tourmaline-- pink in the center and green along the outside.


Tourmaline is known for fostering the creative mind, so it is the perfect birthstone choice for artists, writers and musicians..

November Birthstone  

November has two birthstones that are similar in color:  Topaz and Citrine.


Topaz can appear in a number of colors, the most common being colorless, yellow and brownish-orange. Imperial topaz has a peach tone. In England it was once believed that topaz could cure insanity, and elsewhere it has been considered to bestow wisdom upon its wearer.


Blue topaz is a popular gemstone, almost always treated for color, that can serve as a birthstone for November or December.


Citrine occurs in a range from yellow to brownish orange.  It has the same amber color as Topaz, and is more commonly used as the November birthstone today.  Citrine is said to attract wealth and prosperity -- and that’s a fine birthday wish!


One of our customers once had a November birthstone ring redesigned. It was passed from grandmother, to mother, to its current owner. All had November birthdays. She intended to leave it to her granddaughter, who was also born in November. You can read about that story here.


December Birthstone


The birthstone for December is  -- Blue! The traditional December birthstone is Turquoise. Today, it is joined by Blue Zircon, and, most recently, Tanzanite.


Turquoise is an opaque gemstone that is usually cut in a cabochon, which has a rounded top. The veins that appear in some turquoise are evidence of the surrounding rock where it formed. This rock is called matrix.  Turquoise was prized by the Egyptians, who believed it to bring joy and delight. The turquoise jewelry found in ancient Egyptian tombs is some of the oldest jewelry in the world.


Blue Zircon is a very sparkly gemstone. Zircon comes in colorless, golden, and other colors as well. It is the gemstone that most resembles diamond, because of its brilliance.  Don’t confuse it with cubic zirconia.  Zircon is a genuine gemstone. Its blue is slightly greenish, similar to Blue Topaz.

Tanzanite--the newest of the December birthstones -- has a rich blue or bluish-purple color. It is almost always treated.  The color is deeper in larger size gemstones. Tanzanite is interesting because it appears to be slightly different in color as you view it from different angles.  If you choose Tanzanite for your birthstone, be aware that it is better suited to necklaces and earrings, not rings or bracelets.If you really want a Tanzanite ring, consider a style where the gemstone is protected by the setting, and keep it for occasional wear.This beautiful gemstone is associated with meditation and mind-heart communication.

So there you have it - all the birthstones! What is your birthstone? Do you like it? Let us know in the comments!

Plante Jewelers is a family-owned Jewelry store located in Swansea, Massachusetts. It is owned by Pierre and Nancy Plante.





Nancy Plante
Nancy Plante

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