The idea of birthstones has been around for thousands of years. Various gems were believed to have certain powers and these were particularly strong powers in certain months. Traditionally the birthstones bring luck to the wearer, especially if worn during the birth month.
The modern list of birthstones has no real astrological significance. It was created in 1912 by the Jewelers of America and has been modified a couple of times since. The idea was to create a list of gems that people could actually find, since some traditional birthstones are a little on the rare side.
Since costs are a consideration for most of us, birthstone jewelry is frequently made with either created (man made) stones or, in less expensive jewelry with colored crystals. Of course, fine birthstone jewelry will be made with the same quality gems as any other fine jewelry.
The list of the modern birthstones, by month, is as follows:
The January Birthstone is Garnet. While the birthstone color is a rich red the garnet also comes in a great variety of colors. It’s a relatively soft stone, so it should be protected from impacts and scratches. I once saw a gorgeous green garnet ring, priced at $4,000.
February’s birthstone is the Amethyst. This fine purple/lilac gem is also relatively soft. Purple is, of course, the royal color and so Amethyst has been a favorite gem for a very long time. It was also a favorite of Catholic Priests. Leonardo Da Vinci believed that it dispelled evil thoughts and quickened the intelligence. It obviously worked very well for him.
The March Birthstone is Aquamarine. Aquamarine color ranges from light blue to blue/green to dark blue and is a favorite of many jewelers. Its light blue color arouses feelings of harmony and friendship and reflects the color of the sky as well as the deep blue sea. No wonder it was also a favorite gem of sailors and was reputed to be one of the treasures found with mermaids.
The birthstone for April is the diamond. Of course, everyone knows that the diamond is the hardest material known. Well cut diamonds of good quality are dazzling. Diamonds actually come in a range of colors: the clear ones we see most often, as well as various shades of yellow, brown, orange, blue, and green. Do you think that fine diamonds are expensive? Try finding a fine blue or pink diamond. The Hope diamond is a huge, perfect, blue-violet diamond.
May has the Emerald for its birthstone. This beautiful stone ranges from a cloudy pale green to a deep clear green in perfect specimens. High quality emeralds will see a price close to that of diamonds. Energy healers like the emerald for its positive effects on relationships.
June’s birthstone is the Pearl. This is the only gemstone that is actually grown inside a creature. Certain oysters, if they ingest some kind of particle, will encase that particle with the pearl nacre. Truly fine pearls are carefully cultured and a long string of large, perfect pearls will set you back several thousand dollars. Fresh water pearls, which are quite affordable, can still be beautiful and some have very interesting shapes.
The July birthstone is Ruby. Second only to the diamond in hardness, it can still be chipped or cracked. Ruby was called the “King of Gems” by the ancient Hindus. Some have said that the July birthstone gets its color from an everlasting eternal fire, which cannot be extinguished.
August has Peridot for its birthstone. This gem is a beautiful green to yellow-green in color and is often mistaken for an emerald. In fact, legend has it that Queen Cleopatra preferred Peridot over other gems and that some of her “Emeralds” may have been Peridot. Emeralds don’t have the yellow tint, though, and tend to be a darker green.
The Birthstone for September is the Sapphire. Rubies and Sapphires are both part of the corundum group of mineral, characterized by their hardness. The red corundums are Rubies. The blue ones are the sapphires.
Opal is the birthstone for October. This shimmering gem changes color depending on the light. Black opals, while not black, have a darker base color and can be stunning.
Citrine is November’s birthstone and is one of the most affordable gemstones. Essentially, it’s golden quartz and ranges in color from a lemon yellow to a more orange hue. Ancient peoples thought that the citrine would protect them from snake venom and evil thoughts. Yellow Topaz is an alternate birthstone for November.
Lastly, we have the Blue Topaz or Tanzanite as the December birthstone. Topaz is a very hard gem that naturally comes in a variety of colors, except blue! The blue color comes from irradiation. Tanzanite is an alternate birthstone for December. It has a shimmering blue color with hints of purple and comes only from the African country of Tanzania.
Gems4friends.com [http://www.gems4friends.com] has more information on birthstones [http://www.gems4friends.com/birthstones.html] and a cool birthstone chart [http://www.gems4friends.com/birthstones.html], which includes birthstones from traditions other than the modern one
Copyright 2006 by Greg Mee and gems4friends.com. Permission is granted to reprint this article as long as the links remain intact.