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Birthstones and Their History

Most of us have known their birthstone from when we were a young age. Each month has its own birthstone and the month you were born determines yours. Did you know that each birthstone means something special?  There is so much more to these significant stones than you ever thought. 

Birthstones are the gems associated with each month of the year and each one has its own particular importance. When you ask someone what their birthstone is, they usually know it. It’s very common to see people wearing pieces of jewelry containing their birthstone. You see them in rings, bracelets, earrings, and necklaces. Mother’s often wear jewelry pieces adorned with the birthstones of their children.  Aside from jewelry, you will see the colors associated with the gems themselves in other types of personalized gifts.


Legend has it that birthstones have special therapeutic powers. According to this myth, if you wear a gemstone in its assigned month, the gem’s healing powers increase. If you want to enjoy the full effect, you must own all twelve birthstones and every day of the month you must wear the gem associated with that month.

It is widely believed that the tradition of wearing birthstones came from a religious ceremonial garment called the Breastplate of Aaron. Twelve different gemstones are set in this garment to represent Israel’s twelve tribes, which were described for the first time in the Book of Exodus.

But history tells us that birthstones could go back much further. They may come from the twelve months of the year and the twelve zodiac signs. The legendary powers of birthstones likely began long ago with a tribal elder or shaman asking deities for blessings on the birth of a child.

Since ancient times, birthstones have been a part of our social fabric. Many believe they symbolize good health and fortune.

Below is a list of the 12 months of the year with their assigned birthstone(s):

January: Garnet
The birthstone for January is garnet. Most people picture garnets as being deep red, but they actually come in a variety of colors. Deep red is its most popular color and where the stone’s name comes from. The word “granatum” means “seed” in Latin, and since red garnets resemble pomegranate seeds, the gem was named garnet.

February: Amethyst
People born in February have amethyst as their birthstone. Historically, the stone has been a symbol of royalty due to its purple color. But amethysts can be found in many different colors and in many parts of the world. In reality, this quartz stone symbolizes different things to different cultures, going back to ancient Romans and Greeks to modern Russia. So if you have a February birthday, you can wear your crown and start feeling like royalty when wearing your birthstone.

March: Aquamarine
March’s birthstone is aquamarine. The name is derived from the word “aqua” as this beautiful blue colored gem is given credit for protecting sailors out on the seas. Aquamarines come from the beryl mineral, which is quite durable with a 7.5 on the Mohs hardness scale. Aquamarines look stunning in any type of jewelry and makes this stone popular to those born in any month.

April: Diamond
Those born in April are incredibly blessed to have diamond as their birthstone because it truly is one of the most beautiful gems. Diamonds are associated with engagement rings since this is what many women expect when they get engaged. They are also so hard that they are nearly indestructible, hence the phrase, “diamonds are forever,” a reference to marriage.

May: Emerald
May’s birthstone is the emerald, which signifies intelligence, growth and youth. Emeralds are a rich green color and its name comes from “smargados,” the Greek word for green stone. These gorgeous gems can be seen in some of the most beautiful jewelry, even royal crowns. Emeralds are more valuable than many other stones, not only due to their beauty, but they’re also quite rare. Emeralds are known for bringing joy, which is nice to know if this is your birthstone.

June: Alexandrite & Pearl
People born in June are blessed with two birthstones, alexandrite and pearl, both of which are incredibly unique. What makes alexandrite unique is its rarity, and that it changes colors. In daylight it’s green but in artificial light it becomes reddish-purple. Pearls are also quite rare and unique because they are the only gem created in nature by a living being.

July: Ruby
Ruby is the birthstone for the month of July. Of all the red colored gems, rubies are the most famous and the second hardest natural gem, right after diamonds. Rubies come from the corundum mineral and their durability makes them suitable for daily wear. It also doesn’t hurt that the deep vibrant red color goes well with just about any outfit.

August: Peridot
Peridot, which is the birthstone of those born in August, has historically been thought to have special powers of healing and of banishing nightmares. Peridot is formed deep inside the earth and most commonly brought to the surface by volcanic eruptions. You most often see this gem in a lime green color worn as beads in bracelets and necklaces.

September: Sapphire
September’s birthstone is sapphire, which according to legend has been protecting romantic lovers from harm over the centuries. Sapphires are found in various colors, but it’s best known for is bluish-violet color. Like the ruby, this is another gem from the corundum mineral, which makes it just as hard. Sapphires make the perfect gift for a September birthday.

October: Opal, Tourmaline, and Moonstone
October is another month with multiple birthstones, opal and tourmaline. Both are extremely beautiful, although untraditional. Tourmalines are most often seen in pink, but they come in many more colors. In fact, some are tricolored with 3 different colors in one stone.

Opals are one of the most beautiful and precious gemstones and are basically made up of water and silica (the main component in glass). It is one of only six types of precious gemstones found on planet earth, sharing prestigious company with diamonds, rubies, sapphires, emeralds, and pearls.

Moonstone is a sodium potassium aluminum silicate of the feldspar group that displays a pearly and opalescent schiller.  It can come in numerous colors, including blue, grey, white, pink, peach, green and brown, as well as colorless.

November: Citrine & Topaz
Citrine and topaz stones look very much alike and are often confused for the other. These are both November birthstones. Topaz has undertones of orangish-pink and has long been considered one of the most beautiful gemstones. Citrine is known for its healing powers due to the energy and warmth of its orange color.

December: Blue Zircon, Turquoise, & Tanzanite
December is the second month with 3 birthstones: tanzanite, blue zircon and turquoise. These gemstones are known for their various shades of blue. Each has its own unique characteristics and form, allowing them all to make a fashion statement wherever they’re worn anywhere in the world.

At Thomas Nevin Jewelers, we carry many unique birthstone pieces.  Whether you are looking for an individual piece or a matching set, our team is happy to assist you in your birthstone purchase.

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