History and Symbolism of Birthstones
The idea that each month has a specific stone or gem to represent it goes back to the Bible. However, it wasn’t until the 18th century that the birthstones we know and love became solidified by Polish jewelry practices, and in 1912 the American National Association of Jewelers produced the official list that we follow today.
That list is:
- April--Quartz or Diamond
Birthstones are one of those things people just love! Wearing jewelry with our birthstones or a loved one’s stone is a very empowering, loving practice.
But what a lot of people don’t know is that birthstones has a deeper meaning than just the month they’re assigned to. If you want to make or wear jewelry with birthstones, check out our guide to knowing the symbolism of birthstones! And if you have any questions, just ask me for help and expertise.
The birthstone for the first month of the years is a deep red stone called garnet. The name comes from the Latin word for pomegranate seed, which makes a lot of sense! Garnets are very refractive stones, which mean the tend to look like they give off their own light. They’re a beautiful, refined, powerful stone.
Because of their refractive qualities, travelers used to carry garnets for protection and guidance, which is why they’re known for those qualities still today.
Garnets look amazing with both gold and silver, and they are a fairly hard durable stone. Perfect for everyday jewelry but also making a statement because of their beautiful blood-red color!
February’s birthstone is the beautiful, serene Amethyst. In ancient societies, Amethysts used to be used to protect against drunkenness! Now they are thought to impart wisdom. They probably won’t stop you from getting drunk, but maybe they’ll make you wise enough to know when you’ve had enough wine.
A lot of people think that Amethysts are their own type of gem, but they’re actually a type of quartz! When there is a purple discoloration in quartz, we call it Amethyst.
If this is your birthstone, you’re in luck! Amethysts are one of the most popular crystals around, and you can find them in geodes, tumbled and un-tumbled crystals, and jewelry in almost any shop that sells gems and stones.
Purple also has a long history of being connected to royalty (going all the way back to Phoenician traders who sold a very rare, expense purple dye that pretty much only royalty could afford). Uncut Amethyst is very popular right now, and makes for beautiful natural looking jewelry!
March babies have the calm and stunning Aquamarine for their stone. Usually a lighter blue, some Aquamarine are a very dark blue. These stones are less common and prized for their beauty! Because most of them are a light blue that reminds us of a clear sky or calm sea, Aquamarine is associated with serenity.
Like Amethyst, Aquamarine are actually a type of other stone--Beryl. When Beryl (which has a lot of different variations) has blue discoloration for any reason, we call in Aquamarine.
Sailors often brought Aquamarine on long sea voyages to calm them and help them get a good night’s rest. If you need some help catching Zs or de-stressing, Aquamarine would be an excellent stone for you!
April--Quartz or Diamond, Strength
April has probably the most famous birthstone of all--the diamond. Diamonds are known for being rare, beautiful, and incredibly hard. They are 58 times harder than any other mineral on the planet! This is why they’re known for imparting strength on the wearer.
However, if you’ve ever heard of the term “blood diamond,” you know that the harvesting of diamonds has some ethical issues. They’ve gotten better with more regulation in recent years, but a lot of people, especially millennials, don’t like the idea of supporting the diamond industry. For those who dislike diamonds, clear quartz is a much less controversial and less expensive) option!
Clear quartz is one of the most popular stones out there, and can be found at pretty much any stone or jewelry-making store. Quartz is also very hard, like diamonds. They’re a great stone for reminding you that something can be beautiful and strong at the same time!
Emeralds are gorgeous green stone that definitely stands out in a crowd! Their deep green hue reminds of us springtime, growth, and rebirth, which makes sense because they are meant to convey feelings of hope and possibility. Just like the world will be green again in the spring, Emeralds remind us that there’s always hope, and the future will be beautiful!
Emeralds are also a type of Beryl with green discoloration. Deep green emeralds are rare to find in nature, so many are heat-treated to make their color more vibrant.
They’re also a symbol of Ireland (known as the Emerald Isle!) so if you are Irish, born in May, or simply want a hopeful reminder, Emeralds are the perfect stone for you!
Pearls are one of the most well-known birthstones out there! Pearl necklaces and earrings have been a sign of a classy woman for decades (just as Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s!). It’s actually a stone, but not a mineral, created when a bit of sand gets inside a mollusk. The mollusk secretes a liquid that slowly builds a coating around the sand and makes a pearl!
But June’s alternate birthstone, Alexandrite is a bit less well-known. It’s a gemstone that can either be a light greenish-yellow or greenish-blue. The really amazing thing about Alexandrite is something called pleochroism, which is when sunlight makes a stone burst into many different colors. It’s a truly amazing phenomenon that makes Alexandrite a unique birthstone!
Want to know something weird about rubies? They’re a type of mineral called corundum, and are technically sapphires! If it weren’t for their distinct dark red coloring, rubies wouldn’t be rubies at all!
But we think the coolest thing about rubies is that they absorb natural light and re-emit it later, which gives them their own glow. Because they’re the color of blood, rubies are connected to health and strength. A ruby birthstone is the perfect reminder of your own vitality and power!
Peridot is a green birthstone that probably gets confused with the more famous emeralds. Like emeralds, Peridot are green, but they tend to be more of a yellow-green. They range in saturation, with dark Peridot being worth more.
Found along cracks in volcanoes, Peridot represent beauty. And like many beautiful things, they are also fragile. When working with or wearing Peridot, take plenty of care not to damage this beautiful stone.
September--Sapphire/Lapis Lazuli, Truth
Like rubies, sapphires are corundum but have blue pigment instead of red. Sapphires are almost as hard as diamonds, so you almost never have to worry about them breaking. The alternative birthstone for September is Lapis Lazuli. Lapis is a soft gemstone that has been prized since ancient Egypt!
Whether you choose sapphire or lapis for your September birthstone, the beautiful blue color of both stones is meant to inspire truth, honesty, and transparency in relationships.
Tourmaline and Opal are the two most colorful options on this list, and October babies get them both!
Tourmaline is a fascinating mineral that is actually a few stones growing together! Because of this, one tourmaline specimen can have many different colors.
Opal is a gorgeous stone that often has a light base color (white or blue are most common) but has flecks of other colors and bright spots throughout. It’s beauty is only matched by its softness--opals are delicate stones that can break easily. They’re much more suited for special occasions rather than everyday use.
Citrine is a beautiful yellow stone that is actually a type of quartz! After amethyst, it’s the second most common type of colored quartz, so it’s very easy to find!
Yellow and happy like the sun, Citrine is supposed to remind us of all the joyous things in our lives! Perfect for the November baby that was born during the month of Thanksgiving!
Turquoise was originally found in Turkey, hence the name. Turkish tradition says that when you give the gift of turquoise to your friend, it helps them make more friends! Turquoise is a very popular gem that you can easily find in most bead shops, and it lends a beautiful, rustic vibe to any project.
Ready to start your project?
All set to start your birthstone project? Head on down to Chevere bead and we’ll get you all set up! Whether you’re a beginner looking to start their first beading project or a seasoned pro, we’ve got the expertise and supplies you need.