Natal stones and their vivid colors have long been a way to make the connection between the month of birth and the rare and unique gemstones. They are a significant gift for mom, friend, husband or family member during a special occasion. But they mean much more than that, as you will find out below. Whether you’re shopping for a birthday stone or trying to determine the colors of the birthstone jewel that match each month, you’ve come to the right place. We’re going to cover the origins of these stones, the way they’re commonly used, and we’re going to describe the birthstone of each month and we’re going to have a lot of diagrams to go with it. They are great stones for rings, necklaces, earrings, bracelets, talismans and much more
THE ORIGIN OF BIRTHSTONES
Natal stones are gemstones associated with the month in which a person was born. To begin, here is the list of each birthstone depending on the month in which you were born:
June: Pearla or Alexandrite
July : Rubin
October: Tourmaline or Opal
November: Topaz or Citrine
December: Tanzanit, Zircon or Turquoise
Birthstones seem to have a biblical source, tracing back to the book of Exodus in the Bible and especially to Aaron’s breastplate. The breastplate was inlaid with 12 precious stones that each represented the twelve tribes of Israel at that time. This specific breastplate was adorned with the following precious stones: emerald, sapphire, diamond, topaz, carbuncle, sardius, agate, ligure, amethyst, onyx, jasper, and beryl. How did these birthstones turn into the birthstones we all know today? Moving forward in the 1st and 5th centuries AD, two scholars, Flavius Josephus, and St. Jerome are credited with associating the 12 precious stones of the breastplate with the 12 signs of the zodiac. Initially, the thought was that each person would own all 12 birthstones and wear each jewel in the corresponding month. The modern variation we know today appeared in 18th-century Poland, whereby Jewish jewelers traded each gemstone based on a person’s birth month. In 1912 the National Jewelry Association consolidated the practice in the United States. The twelve birthstones have remained largely the same since then, although there are companies trying to put their stones in the mix to boost sales. Remember that there are different types and variations of birthstones, for example, birthstones for zodiac symbols, such as Leo.
ARE BIRTH STONES GEMS OR MINERALS?
One of the building blocks of rocks is minerals, for which geologists have a very precise definition. To technically be a mineral, a substance must meet five requirements. The substance must be natural (not artificial), inorganic, and solid, with a chemical composition of definition and an ordered internal structure. Most of the birthstones listed above are gemstones technically classified as minerals. However, a pearl is not classified as a mineral because it is not inorganic and has grown inside a mollusk. In addition, opal in some cases can be either organic or inorganic and therefore the organic version would not be considered a mineral. What is defined as a gemstone is a more generic term used largely by the jewelry industry to refer to a gemstone that has been cut, polished and used in jewelry. The stone can be formed either from minerals such as diamonds or emeralds or from other substances such as amber or pearls. Gemstones are often hard to come by and hold an economic value largely dependent on their rarity. Now, let’s take each of your homestones individually for each month of the year, so you can learn a little more about your stone. natal and see how it looks up close.
JANUARY BIRTHSTONE: GARNET
Garnet is the natal stone of those who are born in January. The word garnet derives from the fourteenth century, where “gernet” meant an intense red color. In addition, it is derived from the Latin word granatum, which means the seed in this case the seed of a pomegranate. Garnet is usually a stone of intense red color that suits almost any type of jewelry. It is actually a group of minerals, unlike most of them on this list, which are a specific mineral, hence the variations seen in the table below. Garnet can be found in metamorphic, igneous or sedimentary rocks and can be of varying degrees. Low-quality garnets are commonly used in abrasive water jets that work to remove coatings or rust. In what colors comes the garnet: Red, brown, black, green, yellow, orange, pink, white and colorless. Extremely rare Blue, Hardness: 6.5 – 7.5 Mohs
FEBRUARY BIRTHSTONE: AMETHYST
Amethyst is the natal stone for those born in February. The term amethyst derives from the ancient Greek word methustosus, which translates roughly into drunkenness. In ancient Greece, it was believed that if you wear an amethyst, it will protect you from aging. (we do not recommend you to try) In fact, amethyst is a variety of quartz. The same quartz that covers the white sand beaches, is the source of glass and is one of the most common minerals on Earth. More precisely, an amethyst is produced when there are certain impurities in the quartz that give it its purple color. The deep violet of an amethyst gemstone has long signified royalty and adorns many crowns and royal jewelry. It is meant to exude wealth and strength through its warm and cold color. What colors does amethyst come in: Different shades of Violet; Hardness: 7 Mohs
MARCH BIRTHSTONE: AQUAMARINE
Aquamarine is the birthstone for those lucky enough to be born in March. The word aquamarine is a combination of two words, aqua which means water and sea, meaning sea. Therefore, the jewel is named after the beautiful blue sea. Part of the history of this jewelry is that it was used by sailors to give them good luck on the seas and to ensure a safe journey. Aquamarine is, in fact, a type of beryl, a rare silicate mineral that is found in igneous and metamorphic rocks around the world. More specifically, it is found in granite and granite pegmatites. A main source of beryl is exploited at Mount Spor in Utah, although it is usually not for the quality of the gemstone. Beryl can be found in a variety of colors and each color is given a different name. The colors of beryl and their names are as follows: emerald (green), aquamarine (blue), red beryl (red), helium (yellow), morganite (pink to orange), maxixe (dark blue), beryl green (light green), and the rare colorless goshenite (colorless) variant. In what colors comes aquamarine: Blue, green, yellow, colorless, pink and others occasionally. Hardness: 7.5 – 8 Mohs
APRIL BIRTHSTONE: DIAMOND
Surely you have heard of or even own a diamond, the birthstone for April. Diamonds are one of the rarest gemstones in the world and certainly one of the most cherished. Diamonds gain this recognition partly for how heavy they are, in fact they are 58 times heavier than any other mineral on Earth. That is why you will often see blades and drills covered with diamond powder, as they are able to cut or pierce anything. Diamonds are a pure carbon network and come in a range of colors from yellow to red, pink, green and blue. However, you are probably interested in the pure colorless variety of diamonds, which are extremely rare, since most diamonds have a hint of yellow. Diamonds are carbon that are subjected to extreme temperatures and pressures below the Earth’s surface. They are then exhumed to the surface often by volcanic magma pipes called kimberlite pipes. They have been cherished for thousands of years in civilizations around the world and were once believed to be lightning on Earth. Today, they are commonly given as engagement rings but also in other jewelry. You can learn more about diamonds here. In what colors comes the diamond: Normal yellowish, brown or gray to colorless. Rare can be blue, green, black, translucent white, pink, purple, orange, purple or red; Hardness: 10 Mohs
MAY BIRTHSTONE: EMERALD
The emerald is the natal stone for those born in May. The word emerald is derived from the Greek word emerald which translates to green. Similar to the aquamarine mentioned above, an emerald is a green variety of beryl based on impurities found in beryl. Emeralds are commonly found in Brazil, Colombia, Zambia and Afghanistan. Most emeralds are heat treated to deepen their green color, since high-quality emeralds are very rare. It is known that Cleopatra loved emeralds and claimed to own every emerald mine in Egypt during his reign. It is said that emeralds have miraculous powers being the key to youth without old age. Cleopatra used to grind them into a powder and drink them, so that she would remain forever young. (this is a myth, the consumption of emeralds can seriously harm health!!) The emerald is part of the precious stones “the big three”, besides ruby and sapphire. These three large gemstones create more economic value than all the other gemstones combined. Beryl takes its green color from traces of chrome or vanadium along with iron marks to give it a bluish green color. Treatments: oil treatment What colors does the emerald come in: Green to colorless; Hardness: 7.5 – 8 Mohs
JUNE BIRTHSTONE: PEARL OR ALEXANDRITE
Pearls are precious stones, but not minerals, because pearls are formed from living organisms, mollusks. A mollusk will form a pearl if there is a nucleus to start, sometimes an individual grain of sand. The mollusk will then form layers of calcium carbonate around that grain of sequential sand over time. In fact, the mollusk does this because the grains are irritating and this is the reaction to ease that irritant by adding a smooth layer around it. The pearls that you find today on the market are actually grown in a pearl farm where people artificially induce the creation of a pearl by introducing an irritant into the shell of mollusks, being forbidden to collect wild mollusks for their pearls. Most pearls come from southern China, Indonesia, the Philippines and Australia. In what colors do the pearls come: white, pink, silver, cream, brown, green, blue, black, yellow, orange, golden, purple and iridescent. Hardness: 2.5 – 4.5 Mohs Alexandrite is a stone that has reached the stage of extraordinary. The reason is her rarity. In the 1990s it was believed that Alexandrite’s resources were depleted, which was initially found in Russia. Recently a small deposit was discovered in Brazil. This stone is so rare that only a few carats are collected in the course of a year, generally small pebbles (0.02-0.3 carats). Alexandrite has a natural property of color, it changes, hence its nickname of the Cameleon stone. Green during the day and red at night. Being such a rare stone is recommended for people who already have in their collection almost everything.
JULY BIRTHSTONE: RUBY
If you’re lucky and you were born in July, the ruby is your natal stone. Ruby is a variety of corundum that is then colored to an intense red color of chromium. One of the other variations of corundum is sapphire dependent on impurities in the mineral. The name ruby comes from the Latin word for red, rubeus. One of the most famous locations for rubies is the Mogok Valley in Burma, known for its blood red rubies. You can also find rubies in the United States, Thailand, Vietnam and India. Not surprisingly, ruby is known to represent life and blood and is known to enhance courage. In fact, the warriors of Burma would implant rubies in their skin before fighting for protection and courage on the battlefield. What colors does the ruby come in: From pink and all shades of red to intense red, colorless; Hardness: 9 Mohs
AUGUST BIRTHSTONE: PERIDOT
Peridot is your natal stone if you were born in August. This gemstone has a vibrant green glow and probably gets its name from the Arabic word for jewel, faridat. It can also derive its name from the Greek word to “give abundantly,” peridone. Peridot is actually precious quality olivine, a mineral commonly found in mafia rocks such as basalt, gabrus and peridotite. The peridot is often found along the divergent boundaries of plaques and hot spots, such as Hawaii. In fact, Hawaiian folklore says that the peridot symbolizes the tears of the goddess of the volcano Pele. While olivine is a common mineral, it is less common to have the quality mineral version of peridot. Most of the world’s precious quality peridot comes from the San Carlos Reserve in Arizona, but can be found in Pakistan, Myanmar and China. The Indian Reserve of San Carlos Apache is estimated to produce up to 95 percent of the world’s peridot supply. What colors does peridot come in: yellow, yellow-green, maroon, brown, emerald green and occasionally lime green; Hardness: 6.5 – 7 Mohs
SEPTEMBER BIRTHSTONE: SAPPHIRE
September natives have sapphire as their natal stone. Similar to a ruby, a sapphire is a variety of corundum that adorns a deep blue color. The name sapphire comes from the Latin word for “blue stone”, sapphire. One of the benefits of sapphires is their hardness, recording a 9 on the Mohs hardness scale (diamond is a 10). This means that it is a strong and sturdy gemstone that you do not have to worry about being scratched. It also means that this stone is useful for the industry because it has a strong wear and tear. You can find deep blue sapphires from Kashmir in India, known for producing some of the best sapphires in the world. You can also find sapphires in Australia and Madagascar. Corundum gets the blue color from traces of titanium and iron. What colors does the sapphire come in: available in all colors. Generally blue. Hardness: 9 Mohs
OCTOBER BIRTHSTONE: TOURMALINE OR OPAL
If you were lucky enough to be born in October, you have not one but two natal stones: tourmaline and opal. Tourmaline comes from the Sinhalese word for mixed colored stone, mali tour. In fact, tourmaline is not a single mineral, it is a group of minerals that have very different chemical compositions and colors. A tourmaline is a boron silicate mineral that occurs in igneous and metamorphic rocks. The other natal stone is the opal, which takes its name from the Greek word opallios. This roughly translates to “seeing a color change” as demonstrated when spinning an opal. Opal is formed when water takes over the silica dioxide and deposits it in open voids or cavities along with traces of impurities. The water evaporates and leaves the silica dioxide. Most of the opal in the world is produced from Australia, where seasonal rains make the habit of water flow silica and deposit it in the cracks in the ground. Hardness: 7 – 7.5 Mohs
NOVEMBER BIRTHSTONE: TOPAZ OR CITRINE
Both topaz and citrine are the birthstones associated with the month of November. Topaz is the most common gemstone associated with the month of November and comes in a variety of yellow shades. The name topaz comes from the Greek name for St. John’s Island located in the Red Sea, Topazios. This is due to the fact that yellow stones were mined on this island, although they were probably not topaz. Topaz gets its bright yellow color from impurities, as in most precious stones. In its pure form, topaz is colorless, but it can take on a variety of colors depending on certain impurities. Most of the world’s topaz comes from Brazil, but it is also produced in Australia, Russia, Sri Lanka, India, Pakistan, Nigeria, Mexico, Germany and the United States. Although topaz has been used in many forms for thousands of years, the term has been used broadly for any light yellow stone, and therefore most references to topaz in history could be other gemstones. What colors does topaz come in: yellow (citrine), blue, brown, gray, pink, reddish pink, orange, colorless if there are no impurities… Hardness: 8 Mohs
DECEMBER BIRTHSTONE: TANZANITE, ZIRCON AND TURQUOISE
There are three natal stones for December: tanzanite, zircon and turquoise. All these three stones have an intense blue color and have their own history and chemical composition. One of the most interesting of the three is tanzanite, a stone that you may not have heard of before. This rare stone is found only in Tanzania, Africa and was discovered in 1967. Tanzanite gets its deep blue/purple color from vanadium. Tanzanite was discovered by Maasai pastors who were in charge of the Merelani Hills around Arusha, Tanzania. These pastors came across blue crystals and notified a prospector who then registered the area with the government to begin exploitation. The name Tanzanite was invented by Tiffany and Co, who became the main distributor of the gemstone and wanted to present the rare geographical source of this stone. At that time they came up with the slogan: “You can find Tanzanit in Tanzania and at Tiffany”. Nowadays the world distribution of Tanzanite is strictly controlled by the Tanzanian government, the advantage is that you can find tanzanite in several places. However tanzanite stone is very rare and it is believed that the deposits will be depleted during this generation. Tanzanite is recognized as the Generation Stone, thus being coveted by both collectors and investors. What colors does tanzanite come in: blue and purple Hardness: 6.5 Mohs We hope you found this guide useful for the birthstones of each month of the year. As specialists, we like to share knowledge about the gemstones you wear every day. They have long histories and have been used to signify many things for thousands of years. It is incredible to think about the history that each of these stones has and how they will influence the wealth and powers of the world for the centuries to come. Share with us on Facebook what stone you purchased/owns and whether it was a gift from or for your mother, daughter, wife, grandmother or anyone else.
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