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Birthstones - a Guide

Updated: May 30, 2021

WHAT ARE BIRTHSTONES?

Traditionally, there have always been specific stones associated with each month of the year; however, some of these stones have been extremely expensive precious gemstones - such as Diamonds and Sapphires - meaning that the folks born in some months were unlikely to get gifts of their particular birthstones.


Since the beginning of the 20th Century, suitable alternative stones have been identified so nobody has to miss out!


Below is a list of currently recognised birthstones. You will find information about each stone, its geology and history and where it comes from.


Many people believe that stones have special physical and metaphysical properties. I have given information on these beliefs here, but be aware that these views are not necessarily shared by me! If you feel unwell, go to a doctor! Please don't rely on a stone you cure you.


If you would like to see the available products products associated with each stone, just click on the pictures and links.


JANUARY – GARNET

Description

Garnet comes in a range of colours, but by far the most common colour is in the red range. It is often a dark red or burgundy colour and gets its name from the Anglo-Saxon word, “gernet”, which means dark red. Garnet is usually transparent and has a vitreous or glass-like quality.


Geological information

Garnet is a relatively hard, silica based gemstone with a 6 – 7.5 hardness rating on the Mohs scale. Its harness and structure make it prized as an abrasive; non-jewellery grade Garnet is ground up and used as an abrasive in such crafts as cabinet making. Although Garnet is sometimes found in igneous rocks, it more often forms within metamorphic rocks. It is a very stable rock meaning that it is able to withstand high temperatures and pressures.



Where does it come from?

Analysis tells us that the Garnet used in Roman and Early Mediaeval Europe actually originated in Southern India and Sri Lanka. Although Garnet is also found in Russia, Africa and South America, Southern India and Sri Lanka remain the main producers of Garnet to this day.


History

Garnet has been valued as a gemstone for thousands of years and artefacts dating back to 3800 BCE have been been discovered in the tombs of the Ancient Egyptians. It was also used by the Ancient Persian seagoers who believed Garnet to be an effective talisman against storms and lightning. The Romans used it in their jewellery and Garnet was often used in the making of seal rings. One of the most iconic historic uses for Garnet was as an inlay by the Anglo Saxons.


Physical and healing properties

Some say that Garnet is a good healing stone which helps the wearer to maintain a positive level of good physical health. Due to its red colour, it is also thought by some to be beneficial for the blood, heart and circulatory system. It is also said to aid in the reduction of inflammation.


Spiritual meaning

Many cultures have valued Garnet for its metaphysical and spiritual powers over the centuries and it is named as one of the 9 sacred gemstones in Vedic mythology.


Other spiritual properties are said to be, that it can protect the wearer from harm and promote good luck. It is also said to bestow the wearer with self-confidence, self-esteem and the gift of clarity. Garnet is said to aid in the turning of negative energies into positive ones, aiding the wearer in managing anger or other strong or negative emotions. It is also said to have the power to promote love and ignite passion.



FEBRUARY - AMETHYST

Description

Amethyst is a variety of purple/violet quartz used extensively in the making of jewellery. As well as being the birthstone for February, Amethyst is also considered the wedding stone for both the 6th and the 17th anniversaries.


Geological information

Amethyst is a transparent form of quartz which gets its purple colouration due to its iron content. It is a hard and durable stone, measuring 7 on the Mohs scale, meaning it is easy to cut and facet, making it an ideal gemstone for jewellery. Amethyst is slightly pleochroic meaning is has the quality of displaying different colours and hues depending on the viewing angle.


Where does it come from?

Amethyst is found in many places around the World, notably Sri Lanka, Brazil and Uruguay. It is, however, the Amethyst from Siberia which is considered the best quality having the deepest and richest colour.


History

Human love of Amethyst goes back to the Neolithic and there is evidence that it was used by the Ancient Egyptians. Later, the Romans valued Amethyst as a way of avoiding intoxication and the word “Amethyst” derives from the Greek words meaning “not intoxicate” which is “Amethistos”. There is evidence that the Anglo-Saxons used Amethyst in their jewellery making and, in Europe, mediaeval soldiers would take Amethyst with them into battle believing it would keep them clear headed.


Outside Europe, Tibetan Buddhists consider Amethyst to be sacred to Buddha and it is often used in the making of prayer beads.


Physical and healing properties

As well as being a traditional cure for intoxication, some believe Amethyst can balance the metabolism, purify the blood, cure migraines and promote healthy cell growth. Amethyst is also said to induce deep and relaxing sleep.


It is said that Amethyst is a positive stone which can turn negative energies into positive ones and anger into tranquility. Amethyst purifies the mind, body and spirit making it good for balancing the emotions and for use in meditation.


Some claim that Amethyst can promote wisdom.


To see all Amethyst earrings click here.


MARCH – AQUAMARINE

Description

This hard and durable gemstone is a soft blue colour and is exceptionally clear, meaning that it is used extensively for making jewellery. In fact, it is so clear that it was once used for making lenses for glasses. It has long been associated with the sea and gets its name from the Latin for “water of the sea”.


Geological information

Aquamarine is a member of the Beryl family of gemstones and has a hardness of 7.5 – 8 on the Mohs scale. It is a very clear stone and gets its blue colour from its iron content.


Where does it come from?

Aquamarine is mined in many places around the World including Brazil, Mozambique, Tanzania, Zambia, Kenya, India, China and Pakistan; however, the biggest exporter of Aquamarine is Brazil, which is also considered to produce stones of the best quality.

The Don Pedro
The Don Pedro

History

There is evidence that Aquamarine was being used from around 500 BCE. It was believed by the Greeks and Romans to be the treasure of mermaids and is recorded as such by the Roman natural philosopher, Pliny the Elder. Romans also associated this stone with their God of the Sea: Neptune.


The largest cut specimen of Aquamarine was discovered in the late 1980s and is called "The Don Pedro". It currently resides in the Smithsonian Museum.


Physical and healing properties

Some people believe that Aquamarine is a soothing stone which can provide protection and relaxation to the wearer. It is said to promote wisdom and happiness. Other physical benefits of Aquamarine are said to include promoting a healthy liver, stomach and throat; it is also claimed that it can calm nerves.


For some, Aquamarine symbolises faithfulness and friendship. It can promote courage, happiness and is helpful in promoting meditation. It also protects the wearer from malicious gossip.




APRIL – ROCK CRYSTAL

Description

Traditionally, the stone associated with the month of April has been Diamond, but Rock Crystal has been used as a substitute for Diamond for many centuries and is considered a perfectly acceptable stone for this month. Rock Crystal is a clear variety of quartz which has been used in both carving and jewellery for a long time. It was once believed that such crystals were actually water that had somehow become stuck in their frozen form after being in this state for a prolonged period. The word “crystal” is derived from the Greek for ice which was “krystallos”.


Geological information

Rock Crystal is a clear form of quartz which is a very common material making around 12% of the Earth’s crust. It is prized for carving and jewellery making as it is so hard and durable, measuring 7 on the Mohs scale. Quartz is piezoelectrical which means it has a very regular and stable oscillation - making it perfect for use in modern clocks and watches.


The individual crystals can grow to huge sizes and the largest Rock Crystal ever discovered was in Itapore, Brazil - over 20 feet in length and weighing in at around 44 tons.


Where does it come from?

Rock Crystal can be found in large quantities all around the World, but is mined mostly in China.

History

The Greeks and Romans used Rock Crystal for making jewellery and it was also used later, in the Middle Ages, for divination or scrying. In Mesoamerica, it was used to carve mysterious skulls for reasons which remain a mystery to us still. It was used as an alternative to glass before the technique for making fine glass was perfected - a good example of this can seen in the famous Alfred Jewel, made for King Alfred the Great.


Later, when we learned how to make fine glass such as lead crystal, it took its name from the quartz crystals which had been used previously.


Physical and healing properties

Those who believe gemstones have healing properties, consider Rock Crystal to be a great stone for promoting all round, good physical health. It is said to:

· Provide mental clarity

· Promote mental stability

· Balance the emotions

· Provide positive energy

· Enhance psychic abilities

· Detoxify the kidneys, bladder and digestive system

· Aid the circulatory and respiratory systems

· Aid the immune system

· Provide pain relief

To see all Quartz earrings click here.


MAY - CHRYSOPRASE

Description

Traditionally, Emerald has been considered the birthstone for the month of May, but the semi-precious gemstone, Chrysoprase has been used as an alternative for a very long time. This is quite a rare stone which ranges from yellowish green to green. Its name derives from the Ancient Greek word meaning “golden apple”.


Geological information

Chrysoprase is a beautiful, translucent member of the Chaldony family of stones, which gets its distinctive colouration from its nickel content. Although it is a beautiful stone, it can be a little unstable and its colour will fade if it is left in bright light for a prolonged period of time.



Where does it come from?

Chrysoprase was rarely used in Europe before the discovery of large deposits in Poland in the 18th Century. The last mines in Poland stopped producing at the end of the 1980s. Most Chrysoprase now comes from Australia, where it is found alongside nickel deposits. This stone is also mined in Kazaksthan, the Czech Republic, Brazil, Tanzania, India, Russia and California.


History

This gemstone was known to the Romans and Greeks, but really became popular in the 18th Century following the discovery of large deposits in Poland.


Physical and healing properties?

There are many positive benefits of this stone which include:

· Detoxifying the body of impurities and poisons

· Brings energy

· Aids the liver, skin, digestion, heart and reproductive organs

· Aids fertility

· Promotes love, truth and fidelity

· Promotes business relationships

· Enhances creativity

· Combats anger and compulsive thoughts

· Promotes independence and commitment


JUNE - PEARLS

Description

Due to the nature of how pearls are formed, and the fact that they are not shaped by us, no two pearls can ever be exactly the same; even very high quality pearls which look the same will have slight differences and variations which make each pearl as individual and unique as a human fingerprint. Pearls are the gem associated with the thirteenth wedding anniversary


Geological information

Most gemstones are geological and form deep undergrown. Others such as Amber, Jet or Sea Bamboo are organic in origin, but pearls are the only gemstone formed by living creatures. Pearls are grown by molluscs to protect themselves if a foreign object becomes embedded in their flesh. Not all molluscs can grow pearls though. Of around 85,000 different mollusc species, only 20 can grow pearls suitable for use in jewellery.


Before pearls were farmed, they used to be vanishingly rare. Only around 1 in 10,000 individual molluscs will form a pearl naturally which meant that it would take many thousands of molluscs to produce enough pearls to make a necklace.


Where do they come from?

Pearls can be found all around the World.


History

People have treasured pearls for many thousands of years. There are Ancient Egyptian pearl artefacts, which are around 5000 years old and pearls are mentioned in Chinese texts dating back 4500 years. The earliest evidence that our ancestors valued pearls, comes from a 7500 year old burial ground in what is now the United Arab Emirates.


The largest and most expensive pearl ever, was discovered by a fisherman in the Philippines. Not knowing the value of this pearl, the fisherman stored it under his bed for several years for good luck. The monster pearl eventually came to light. Measuring 26 inches and weighing a whopping 75 pounds, it is a most ugly specimen but has been valued at around $100 million!


Although not the biggest, the World’s most famous pearl is called “La Peregrina”, which means “The Pilgrim” in Spanish. It was discovered somewhere in the Americas at the end of the 15th Century. Over the centuries, it has been owned by many members of the Spanish Royal Family and, for a time, it was in the possession of Mary I (Bloody Mary). It was also owned by Napoleon III of France. Its last famous owner was the actress Elizabeth Taylor, who was given it by Richard Burton who purchased it for £37,000.


Physical and healing properties

Over the centuries, pearls have been associated with purity, loyalty and clarity. Pearls have also traditionally been associated with wisdom hence the phrase, “pearls of wisdom”.


To see all Pearl earrings click here.


JULY - CARNELIAN

Description

Carnelian is a hard gemstone ranging in colour from light brown to a deep, brownish red. It is a hard, glassy and translucent stone making it ideal for making jewellery and for carving figurines. Due to its colour, it was associated with flesh by the Romans and its name derives from the Latin word for meat.


Geological information

Carnelian belongs to the Chalcedony family of gemstones and it gets its reddish colour from its iron oxide content. It is hard and has a rating of 7 on the Mohs scale.


Where does it come from?

This gemstone can be found in several places around the World including Indonesia, Brazil, India, Siberia (Russia) and Germany.


History

We have evidence that people have valued Carnelian for a long time, with the earliest evidence coming from the early Neolithic around 4500 BCE. Later, we have evidence that it widely used by the Ancient Egyptians, Phoenicians and Assyrians. Carnelian artefacts have also been discovered in the centre of the Minoan civilization at the Palace of Knossos, around 1800 BCE.


Carnelian has the unusual quality of not sticking to molten wax, so it was used by the Romans, and through the Middle Ages, in signet rings and for official seals.


Physical and healing properties

Some people believe that Carnelian have beneficial properties which include:

· Stimulating the appetite

· Balancing energies

· Stimulating physical stamina

· Aiding architects and builders in their work

· Attracting financial prosperity

· Bringing success in business ventures

· Improving the voice (it is sometimes called "The Singer’s Stone")

· Giving confidence when public speaking

· Protecting the home

· Instilling courage

· Promoting love, passion and fertility

To see all Carnelian earrings click here.


AUGUST - PERIDOT

Description

Peridot is a vibrant green colour and is rarely found in any great size. Other than Diamond, it is the only gemstone which does not form in the Earth's crust, but deep in the upper mantle. By the time it reaches the Earth’s surface, it has usually broken down into relatively small pieces. The largest cut Peridot was discovered at the St John’s mine in the Red sea. This gem weighs 62.35g and is now kept in the Smithsonian Museum.

Geological information

Peridot is a type of Silicate and is an Olivine which is rich in Magnesium. It gets its distinct green colour due to its iron content. As well as forming in the upper mantle, it is also found in meteorites (although Peridot from space is extremely expensive). It is a relatively hard and durable stone with a rating of 6.75 on the Mohs scale.


Where does it come from?

Most of the Peridot is now sourced at the San Carlos mine on the Apache Reservation in Arizona. It is also found in other places around the World including: USA, Australia, Brazil, China, Egypt, Kenya, Mexico and Myanmar.



History

Peridot was prized by our ancestors and the first definite evidence of it being mined, dates to 300 BCE on St John’s Island in the Red Sea. The ancient Egyptians called Peridot “The Gem of the Sun” and it still the national gem of Egypt today. Interestingly, Peridot used to be mined at night due to a belief that it could not be seen in sunlight.


Physical and healing properties

Properties that some people ascribe to Peridot include the following:

· It drives away fears and nightmares

· It can promote inner radiance

· It sharpens the mind

· It promotes mental awareness and growth

· It gives the wearer sense of spiritual purpose.



SEPTEMBER – LAPIS LAZULI

Description

A blue stone valued for millenia for its vibrant blue colour. Its name is a blend of Latin and Ancient Persian and means, “sky stone”. It usually contains tiny, golden flecks which sparkle and catch the light which are not Gold, but Iron Pyrites. Lapis Lazuli polishes beautifully and comes in larger sizes making it suitable for both carving figurines and making jewellery.


Geological information

Lapis Lazuli is a type of Feldspar and is metamorphic. It is a vibrant blue colour and usually contains Iron Pyrites. At 5 – 6 on the Mohs scale, it is slightly softer than stones usually used in jewellery making, but this is made up for by its size, polish and stunning colour.


Where does it come from?

Throughout history, most Lapis Lazuli has come from the mines and caves of Afghanistan, where it has been extracted for around 6000 years. It is also found elsewhere in Russia, The Andes in Chile, Pakistan, Italy, Mongolia, the USA and Canada.


History

There is evidence that people were using Lapis Lazuli as early as 7570 BCE, in the Indus Valley Civilization. It was also used by the Ancient Egyptians for jewellery and carving magical amulets and scarabs. The dark blue stripes on the famous golden death mask of King Tutankhamun, are made of fine Lapis Lazuli brought all the way from ancient Afghanistan.


By the Middle Ages, Lapis Lazuli was making its way to Europe where is was used in making the vibrant blue pigments used in frescos and Rennaisance art. It was used in this way right up to the 19th Century, when artificial pigments were developed.




Physical and healing properties

There are many properties attributed to Lapis Lazuli which include:

· General protection

· Defending against psychic attack

· Bringing peace and harmony

· Relieving stress

· Boosting the immune system

· Purifying the blood

· Lowering blood pressure

· Reducing inflammation

· Aiding peaceful sleep

· Giving objectivity and clarity of thought

To see all Lapis Lazuli earrings click here.


OCTOBER - OPAL

Opal gemstone
Opal gemstone

Description

Opals have no definite crystalline structure and come in a wide variety of colours and patterning, which makes them perfect for unusual jewellery as no two pieces can ever be the same. Generally speaking, the more vibrant the colour of an Opal is, the more expensive it is. The rarest and most expensive opals are black in colour. It is not known where the name “Opal” comes from, but the Roman word for precious stone was “opalus”.


Geological information

It is still not completely clear how Opals form, but it is thought they form when water washes down into underground cavities and forms a sort of silica gel which hardens over time: Opals have a high water content of 5 – 20%. It is believed that Opals form very slowly, taking around 5 million years for each 1cm of growth. Due to its water content, Opals are a little softer than gemstones generally are, with a rating of 5.5 – 6.5 on the Mohs scale. Since the 1970s, synthetic Opals have been available.


Where is it found?

Opals can be found in various places around the World including Ethiopia, Brazil and Mexico, but 95% of the World’s Opals come from Australia; 80% of the World’s Opals come from South Australia alone.


History

The earliest archaeological evidence of Opals being used by people, dates to around 4000 BCE. Prior to the 19th Century, Opals were extremely rare in Europe and were only owned by the extremely wealthy, Royalty or the Aristocracy.


The largest Opal ever discovered, was the Olympic Australis which was discovered in 1956 and weighs 3.4kg.


Physical and healing properties

Many healing and metaphysical properties have been attributed to Opals which inclue:

· Bringing good luck

· Enhancing cosmic consciousness

· Enhancing creativity

· Increasing self-confidence

· Amplifying the thoughts and emotions of the wearer

· Protection from harm

· Aiding psychic journeying

· Aiding the eyes, kidneys and adrenal glands

· Bringing balance

· Aiding in childbirth

· Managing menstrual pain



NOVEMBER - TOPAZ

Description

Topaz is very abundant clear gemstone, but naturally occurring blue Topaz is rare. Virtually all Blue Topaz starts out clear, but is turned blue through heat treatment and irradiation which stabilizes the stone; this practice began in the 1970s. It is a large, durable stone making it ideal for carving and making into jewellery. Topaz is the gemstone associated with the 4th wedding anniversary.


Geological information

Topaz is a silica-based gemstone which is extremely hard and measures 8 on the Mohs scale. Even though it is hard, it can be a little unstable if mistreated, but this is helped by the heat treatment and irradiation which stabilizes the stone. With a Mohs rating of 8, it is the hardest of all Silica based stones.


Where is it found?

Most Topaz comes from Brazil; however, it is found in many places around the World including Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, China, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Japan, Russia, The Ukraine, Australia, Madagascar, Namibia, Mexico, Zimbabwe and the USA.


History

Non-blue Topaz has been prized by people for a long time. The Ancient Egyptians associated Topaz with their Sun God, Ra, and used it to make powerful amulets. The Romans also associated Topaz with their Sun God, Jupiter.


In Mediaeval Europe, Topaz was considered to provide protection from “madness”.


Physical and healing properties

Some people attribute metaphysical or healing properties to Topaz including:

· Protection for travellers

· Promoting good mental health

· Improving communication skills and aiding public speaking

· Generating inner peace and stability

· Promoting good health for the neck, throat and head

· Curing migraines

To see these Blue Topaz earrings click here.


DECEMBER - TURQUOISE

Description

Turquoise is an opaque stone ranging in colour from green to dark blue, with dark veins running through it. Good quality Turquoise is now rare, and it is increasingly being substituted for synthetic Turquoise or Howlite which, when dyed, looks like Turquoise. At the end of the 18th Century, large amounts of Turquoise began to be imported into Europe from Persia; this came to Europe via Turkey hence its name. It is not the hardest material, rating 6 on the Mohs scale, but is still valued for jewellery due to its beautiful colour and polish.


Geological information

Turquoise is formed of Hydrated Phosphate of Copper. Its blue colours derive from its copper content and its green colours derive from its iron content.



Where does it come from?

Early Turquoise in Europe came from deposits in Bulgaria. Turquoise also comes from Iran, the Sinai Desert, China and many of the South Western states of the USA.


History

Turquoise have been valued by people for thousands of years and was described by the Roman natural philosopher, Pliny the Elder. There is evidence that it was valued by the many ancient peoples such as the Persians, Mesopotamians, Chinese, the Aztecs and the people of the Indus Valley. The Ancient Egyptians associated Turquoise with the Goddess, Hathor, and used it from predynastic times. You can see Turquoise used to make the famous golden death mask of King Tutankhamun.