The history of birthstones is a long one. In modern times each month has at least one, if not more, stone to represent each month. But the history truly started back in the book of Exodus in the Bible, where the breastplate of Aaron is described with 12 different gemstones. It is said that these gemstones brought a multitude of different powers to the wearer of the breastplate. Five hundred years later, the historian Joseph connected the 12 gemstones with the 12 months and the 12 zodiac signs. So as time went on, people collected and wore these stones in various clothing pieces to utilize their supposed power. Centuries later, each stone had become attached to a month where they were believed to be activated and the most powerful. Beginning in the 16th century, the birthstone trend we are familiar with today was born. In 1912, the National Association of Jewelers finalized the birthstone list by giving each month an official gemstone. Birthstones are a fun tradition that makes gifts; whether you believe in their powers or not, the history behind the birthstone is exciting! So here is the list of birthstones and a little history about them.
January – Garnet
January is the month of the garnet, a stone that is known for its ability to bring balance and strength. The garnet can be found in all colors except blue, and it’s been used as a gemstone for protection and strength since ancient times.
It’s no wonder that garnet is the gemstone of January: It offers protection from the cold and windy weather by providing warmth, balance, and strength.
February – Amethyst
Amethyst is a type of quartz that comes in a deep purple color. It’s been used as a gemstone since ancient times and has been thought to have healing properties since then as well. The Greeks believed that the Amethyst stone was supposed to help maintain a clear and peaceful mindset all day long—so much so that they thought it could even protect you from drunkenness! The Greeks also thought of it as protection against nightmares. Amethyst can come in other colors as well, like light purple or reddish purple.
March – Aquamarine
Aquamarine is from the minerals family of Beryl, appearing in the color range of greenish blue to blue. Aquamarine comes from the two Latin words “Aqua,” meaning water, and “Marina,” meaning sea. Together Aquamarine, in Latin translation, means “color of the sea.” Aquamarine is said to calm your mind and alleviate anxieties and fears. In the old days, sailors commonly wore this to protect themselves.
April – Diamond
The word diamond comes from the ancient Greeks stemming from “Adamas,” which means unconquerable. Diamonds can only be scratched by one other material, other diamonds. People might not know that diamonds come in an array of colors, but for the month of April, the diamond’s official color is white. Diamonds are said to bring the wearer better relationships and inner strength.
May – Emerald
The emerald comes from the Greek word “Smaragdus,” which means green. All around the world, Emerald is known for their stunning deep green color. In history, the Emerald is said to bring wealth, vitality, and fertility. This stone is perfect for may as the season change bringing fresh growth in nature, but also for the beholder.
June – Pearls (Alexandrite and Moonstone)
June has a plethora of different birthstones, but the pearl is by far the most popular. It’s thought to bring purity, humility, and innocence—not to mention prosperity—to those who wear it. Alexandrite and moonstone are also June birthstones. Alexandrites are known for their vibrant color change when exposed to light, while moonstones are named for their glow, similar to light reflecting off the moon.
July – Ruby
The ruby has one of the longest histories of all the birthstones on this list, appearing in folklore, ancient stories, and even the bible. Ruby was believed to be the stone of passion, integrity, good health, and love. The overall theme from these beliefs is that the ruby would help in many areas of life. With its deep red color, the ruby stands out among all the gemstones.
August – Peridot
Peridot is bright lime green in color, formed deep underground and unearthed by volcanic eruptions. Peridots’ main origins go back to ancient Egypt on the island of Zebargad in the red sea. It was known as the “gem of the sun” by ancient Egyptians and was thought to protect from the terrors of the night. Peridot was so highly prized by ancient Egyptians that the Island Zebargad was kept hidden until it was found in the early 1900s.
September – Sapphire
Sapphire has been utilized in many ways since ancient times. The blue color was thought to attract wisdom and divine favor across cultures. The name sapphire comes from the Greek word “Sapheiros,” which means blue. Nowadays, blue sapphire is a symbol of royalty and is one of the most sought gemstones.
October – Opal (Tourmaline)
Opal is the original October birthstone known for its unique colors and sparkle. Polished opals often have streaks of bright colors throughout, giving them a unique look compared to other gemstones. Because of its unique and shimmering look, the ancient Greeks believed that opals had the ability to tell prophecy or protect from evil. Tourmaline is also an October birthstone declared only recently.
November – Citrine (Topaz)
Citrine and topaz are both November birthstones, but they’re different. Citrine is derived from the Latin word for lemon, as it is renowned for its yellowish-gold color. Nicknamed “the healing quartz,” citrine is supposed to give vitality and positive energy to whoever possesses it. Topaz is another November birthstone that, in its natural state, is colorless, but when trace element impurities are added, it can make anything from light blue to a golden brown to yellow-orange.
December – Turquoise (Blue Zircon, Tanzanite)
Meaning “stone from turkey,” turquoise displays its beauty through its opacity. The greenish and aquamarine tones of color that turquoise is associated with are highly prized today. The color is unique, and the web-like veins of brownish copper that often run through turquoise leave each piece looking completely different. The other two stones for December are Blue Zircon, which comes in various shades, and tanzanite, which was only recently discovered in 1976.
Check out the Top 5 Most expensive birthstones ever sold at an auction.