Struggling to decide upon a gemstone for a custom piece? Many people like to use their birthstones. The precious stone associated with the month of your birth is a great way to add a personal touch to your piece.
The linking of particular gemstones to birthdays in a particular month dates back to the first century and the Jewish historian Josephus. Many variations of this practice existed throughout history, but it was in 1912 that the National Association of Jewelers (American) first tried to standardize them. There have been some minor adjustments to the list they came up with over the past 100 years, most recently in 2016, but the majority of the list has remained relatively constant over that span of time.
January – Garnet is the stone associated with January birthdays. It is usually a dark red and has a value of between 6.5 and 7.5 on the Mohs Hardness Scale, making it one of the harder gemstones available. It is a traditional gift for lovers to give when one is leaving for a journey as a way of wishing them a swift return and is associated with both beauty and ferocity.
February – For February birthdays, the violet-colored amethyst is the stone of choice. Amethyst was used as a gemstone as far back as Ancient Egypt, and both medieval Europeans and ancient Greeks believed it could keep people calm and sober, both literally and figuratively.
March – Both aquamarine and bloodstone are birthstones for those born in March. Aquamarine is a turquoise stone, long associated with mermaids and the sea. In addition to being a birthstone, it is also the traditional gift for the 19th wedding anniversary. Bloodstone, on the other hand, is so named because of the red inclusions visible against its green background.
April – If you were born in April, your birthstone is the hardest gemstone there is. Diamonds have long been revered throughout the world for their exquisite beauty and purity, although they can actually be found in a variety of colors due to various impurities in their chemical structure. They are also the traditional stone for engagement rings.
May – The brilliant green of emerald signifies a May birthday. These stones are also very hard, earning values of up to 8 on the Mohs Hardness Scale. They have appeared in significant places many times throughout history and have been mined in locations as widespread as Egypt, Colombia and India.
June – Those with June birthdays have the choice of pearls, moonstone or alexandrite for their birthstone jewelry. Moonstones are actually a combination of orthoclase and albite, which when fused, separate into very thin layers. That property is what gives the moonstone its distinctive and opaque appearance, like solidified moonbeams. Alexandrite is available in a variety of different colors including yellow, pink, raspberry red, and green.
July – The red ruby is the birthstone for those born in July. It is one of the gemstones classified as precious because of its rarity and the great demand for it throughout the world. It is also very hard, with a value of 9 on the Mohs Hardness Scale, and they can be found in several locations, most notably Myanmar.
August – The light green peridot is the gemstone associated with August birthdays, but spinel was recently added to August as well! Peridot is often mistaken for an emerald, and although it is rare, it has been found in several Pallasite meteorites. Spinel comes in several different hues and is often mistaken for sapphire or ruby. Learn More
September – September birthdays are recognized with the stunning blue of sapphire. Sapphires can be both naturally-occurring and man-made, and they are another extremely hard gemstone. They have been worn by many people throughout history, and were often thought to signify such desirable things as holiness, wisdom and good fortune.
October – Opal and tourmaline are both used as birthstones for the month of October. Opals diffract light, which makes them appear to have many different colors swirling around inside of them. Tourmaline is a semi-precious gemstone that can be found in colors ranging from black to pink to green, and many others in between.
November – Those with November birthdays also get a choice of birthstones, since both topaz and citrine are acceptable for this month. Topaz can be colorless in its purest form, but is often colored blue, orange, green or another color by various impurities in its chemical structure. Citrine is a type of quartz that is typically brown to pale yellow.
December – Birthdays in the last month of the year are marked by turquoise, zircon or tanzanite. Turquoise is bluish-green and opaque, often with gray or black inclusions. Zircon can be found in several colors including brown, blue, grey and green. Tanzanite is usually a shade of blue or purple and quite clear, sometimes appearing to almost glow.
There are also various birthstones associated with the 12 signs of the zodiac. Since the signs usually straddle two months, these birthstone designations do not quite match up with the traditional list above, although some of them are close. For instance, the sign Aquarius is assigned to birthdays from January 21 to February 21 and is linked to the birthstone garnet, which is also the traditional birthstone for the month of January. The following is a list of the zodiac signs and their respective birthstones:
Aquarius – Garnet – Jan 21-Feb 21
Pisces – Amethyst – Feb 22-Mar 21
Aries – Bloodstone – Mar 22-Apr 20
Taurus – Sapphire – Apr 21-May 21
Gemini – Agate – May 22-June 21
Cancer – Emerald – June 22-July 22
Leo – Onyx – July 23-Aug 22
Virgo – Carnelian – Aug 23-Sept 22
Libra – Peridot – Sept 23-Oct 23
Scorpio – Beryl – Oct 24-Nov 21
Sagittarius – Topaz – Nov 22-Dec 21
Capricorn – Ruby – Dec 22-Jan 21