For most, birthstones are worn to represent the month of their own birth or even more so, the birth month of their children or grandchildren. Many wear specific birthstones representative of a special event or memory they want to always remember and over the years. Birthstones have become a very popular gift for such special occasions.
However, the stones that represent each month can have a much deeper and more unique, personal meaning to many that they believe to affect their own life. Here is a small history lesson on each birthstone and why that gemstone may be more spiritual for some.
Garnets, specifically red garnets are the birthstone for January. The word “garnet” was derived from the word “gernet” meaning “deep red” and “granum” meaning “seed”. They are said to date back as far as the Bronze Age where they were used as inlays in jewelry and carvings. Egyptians believed they were a symbol of life and they have been used in jewelry throughout history and favored by nobility in the Middle Ages. The garnet represents trust, loyalty and compassion.
Amethyst is a deep purple stone that at one point in history was quite rare and only worn by royalty. The word “amethyst” derived from the Greek word “amethystos” meaning “sober”. The ancient Greeks believed that it guarded against intoxication. The modern belief is that the amethyst strengthens relationships and gives the wearer strength.
The light blue birthstone means “water of the sea” in Latin and is associated with many sailors’ legends. According to the Old Farmer’s Almanac, early sailors believed that the aqua talisman etched in the likeness of the sea God Neptune, protected them against ocean dangers. The calming blue color is said to cool the temper and allow the wearer to be calm and level headed.
The American Gem Trade Association (AGTA) states “some historians estimate it was traded as early as 4 BC.” Ancient civilizations thought that diamonds had great healing powers, and some even believed they could cure brain disease and could draw toxins from the blood. Diamonds were historically made popular in India, where the “Moghuls and Imperial Colony easily mined diamonds from the deposits along three major rivers”. Diamonds symbolize eternal and lasting love and are the most popular stone for engagement rings.
The emerald is known to be one of Cleopatra’s favorite gems, so much so that she claimed ownership of emerald mines throughout her reign. The stone was mined in Egypt as early as 330 BC however some estimate the oldest emeralds to date back nearly 3 billion years. The green stone has long been associated with fertility, rebirth and love. According to AGTA, “the emerald is believed to have mystical powers” and was believed to control diseases such as epilepsy and certain stomach problems. Today the emerald is a symbol of growth, wisdom and patience.
“Pearls have been used as adornment for centuries, as far back as ancient Greece, where they believed pearls were tears of the gods. The oldest known pearl jewelry was discovered on the sarcophagus of a Persian Princess who died in 520 BC.”, according to the AGTA. They became more popular in the early 1900’s when parts of Asia started culturing pearls commercially. Pearls are a symbol of purity, generosity and wisdom.
Rubies are symbolic of protection, prosperity and passion and are especially prized in Asian countries. Chinese nobleman even adorned their armor with them for protection. “In Burma, a significant ruby source since 600 AD, warriors believed the rubies made them invincible. They even implanted rubies into their skin to grant them protection in battle.” Similarly, Greeks thought rubies to have warmth with their deep red color tones, enough to melt wax and Hindus regarded the ruby as the “king of gems” protecting them against evil.
Peridot is a light green gemstone that symbolizes strength. The Old Farmer’s Almanac says, “it was once believed that the green crystals found in volcanic ash were the volcano goddess Pele’s tears.” When set in gold the gem was said to protect from nightmares. Ancient Egyptians called the peridot the “gem of the sun” and it was often confused with another green gemstone; the emerald. The AGTA states that “some historians believe that Cleopatra’s famed emerald collection may have actually been peridot.”
Classic blue sapphires were traditionally a favorite gemstone of priests and kings because it is said to protect against poisoning and guard against evil and brought spiritual enlightenment. Popular since the Middle Ages “the celestial blue color of this gem symbolized heaven and attracted divine favor and wise judgement” according to the AGTA. The blue sapphire remains a desired gemstone and has seen a huge rebirth of popularity since Prince Charles gave Princess Diana an oval blue sapphire ring with diamonds that has since been passed on to Kate Middleton when she was proposed to by Prince William in 2010. It remains a popular alternative for the diamond as a center stone in an engagement ring.
The word opal is derived from the Latin word “opalus” meaning “precious jewel”. It is a symbol of confidence and faithfulness and was set in necklaces to repel evil and to protect eye sight. As far back as the Middle Ages, people believed opals to possess powers of each gemstone whose colors appeared when the sun reflected on the stone making it lucky. Australia has long been a source for fine opals but with the supplies depleting, the price of opals has been driven up all over the world with many turning to Ethiopia as the main source for the stone. The opal continues to stay in high demand because of its unique play of colors.
The word “topaz” is derived from the Sanskrit word “tapas” meaning “fire and heat”. Topaz, specifically golden topaz, is believed to give the wearer increased intelligence and strength and is a symbol of love and affection.” Hindus believed this golden colored gem was sacred and would bring longevity and wisdom. Topaz can be found in an array of colors ranging from blue to orange however the most common alternative to the November birthstone is the citrine because it has a very similar golden color tone.
Tanzanite is a beautiful purplish-blue color and is relatively new to the birthstone list. In 1967 in the hills near Arusha, Tanzania, Maasai herders found blue crystals. They notified a prospector named Manuel d’Souza who quickly registered claims and began mining. The crystals were initially thought to be sapphire but were later identified and the mineral zoisite. The Tanzanian government nationalized the mines in 1971, but an estimate that by then they had already mined an estimated 2 million carats of tanzanite. Some studies suggest that the with the current production rate, the tanzanite deposit could be depleted within 30 years. Tanzanite is in very high demand partially due to its limited supply but mostly because of its incredible beauty.
Birthstones can make the perfect birthday, anniversary, or just for fun gift! Now that you know more about your’s and your loved ones’ birthstones let us help you place one in a ring, necklace or other piece of custom jewelry! Call us today (303)-872-2500 or click here for more information on our services!