Everybody Has a Birthstone

Why do we have birthstones? Do you know which one is yours? There is a special gemstone for each month of the year, so whatever month you were born in, that’s your birthstone.

The idea of birthstones is thousands of years old. They were once connected with the signs of the Zodiac and even with the 12 tribes of Israel in the Bible. Different traditions use different stones.

Below are today’s most popular choices. Over the years, people passed along myths and legends about gems, giving them magical powers. They thought that wearing these stones could make them healthy or happy or safe. Some used gems for healing, grinding them up then eating the powder or soaking them then drinking the water. Medicine has come a long way, but people still like to believe that wearing birthstones will bring good luck and help keep them safe.

January ◆ Garnet
(or Rose Quartz)

Garnet actually refers to a whole family of gemstones, which come in every color of the spectrum except blue. The violet-red variety is the best known. It is the gem of faith, constancy and truth.

January - Garnet
February - Onyx

February ◆ Amethyst
(or Onyx)

Because of their rich, royal color, amethysts have sometimes been reserved for wear only by the nobility. They are used both polished and unpolished. Brazil and Zambia are today’s main sources.

March ◆ Aquamarine
(or Bloodstone)

In Latin, “aquamarine” means sea water. Sailors wore this gem, the color of the sea, to protect them. Aquamarine is the gem of friendship, harmony and trust. It is mined in Nigeria, Pakistan, Madagascar and Mozambique, but the finest aquamarines are found in Brazil.

March - Aquamarine
April - Diamond

April ◆ Diamond
(or Rock Crystal)

Diamonds, the hardest substance on earth, are crystallized carbon, brought up to the earth’s surface by volcanoes. Hindus believed diamonds were created by lightning and the people of Greece thought they were fragments of stars. Diamonds are usually sparkling clear, but they can also be green, yellow, orange, pink or blue. Most diamonds today are found in Australia, the Soviet Union and Africa. The diamond symbolizes everlasting love.

May ◆ Emerald
(or Chrysoprase)

The intense green color of emeralds (picture the Emerald City in The Wizard of Oz) comes from traces of chromium or vanadium. The most famous deposits are in Columbia. Emeralds are supposed to be good for just about anything from curing snakebite to promoting courage and honesty.

May - Emerald
June - Pearl

June ◆ Pearl
(or Moonstone or Alexandrite)

The people of Greece thought that pearls were tears of joy from the goddess of love. Arabs once thought that they were moonlit dewdrops swallowed by oysters. And the Chinese thought that they came from dragon brains. Today, we know that mollusks create pearls around irritating grains of sand to smooth things out. This takes many years, so pearls formed in this way cost thousands of dollars. Natural pearls are found in the Persian Gulf and in the waters off Japan, the South Pacific islands, Panama, Venezuela and California.

July ◆ Ruby
(or Carnelian)

Rubies are very hard, second only to diamonds. Sometimes they are used in watches to protect moving parts. This symbol of freedom, dignity and divine power is among the royal jewels of many nations. Most rubies come from Burma today, although they are produced in several other countries, including the United States in North Carolina.

July - Ruby
August- Peridot

August ◆ Peridot
(or Sardonyx)

Peridot came from St. John’s Island in the Red Sea for 3,500 years. Egyptians called it “the gem of the sun,” saying it was invisible in daylight and could only be found at night by its inner glow. Today, Burma is its main source. Peridots have even been found in meteorites.

September ◆ Sapphire
(or Lapis)

Sapphires symbolize truth. Ancient Persians believed that a huge sapphire supported the earth and that reflections from it caused the blue of the sky. In star sapphires, light is reflected in such a way that a star seems to float across the stone as it is moved. The 543-carat Star of India is on display at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City.

September- Sapphire
October - Opal

October ◆ Opal
(or Tourmaline)

Shakespeare referred to opal as “the queen of gems.” Layers of silica spheres break up light into a dramatic rainbow of colors – all the colors of the other birthstones, in fact. No wonder opal symbolizes hope. A dry, barren corner of Australia holds the world’s most important source of opal. It is mined on a small scale, often by hand, even using only a pocket knife.

November ◆ Topaz
(or Citrine)

Topaz comes in a wide range of colors. The name comes either from the Sanskrit word for “fire” or from the island of Topazos in the Red Sea. Topaz is associated with strength. Important sources of topaz are Brazil, Russia, Siberia, Australia and Mexico, and New Hampshire, Colorado and Utah in the United States.

November - Topaz
December - Turquoise

December ◆ Turquoise
(or Tanzanite or Zircon)

People around the world have long treasured turquoise, considered to be a sign of health and prosperity. Today it is principally produced in the southwestern United States – New Mexico, Nevada and Arizona. We tend to picture the blue-green variety with the spider web pattern of veins in the surrounding rock or matrix.

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