Birthstones 101: Everything You Need to Know About Your Birthstone
Garnet, Amethyst, Aquamarine…
These sound like the names of mermaids or fairies but they’re actually much more tangible than that. These are the names of the first three modern birthstones by calendar month. Each person has an assigned birthstone based on the month they were born.
The symbolism, heritage, and properties, both physical and metaphysical, of birthstones transcends across many cultures and religions throughout history. Even now, in modern society, these stones are becoming increasingly popular in general aesthetic and alternative therapy.
Whether you’re skeptical about the crystal hype or you’re a full-fledged believer, knowing your birthstone and the history behind it can be a fun and informative experience.
A BRIEF HISTORY OF BIRTHSTONES
Crystals, stones, and precious gems of the Earth have been used to heal and empower for centuries. Each has their own unique healing properties for ailments of all types. The assignment of these stones dates back to what is believed to be the biblical times.
In the Book of Exodus, Aaron, the first high priest of the Israelites, wore a breastplate with 12 different stones embedded in the armor to represent the 12 tribes of Israel. It was said that each stone had significant power and could tell a person their own fate.
The stones believed to be in the armor according to the first translation were: carnelian, chrysolite, beryl, jacinth, agate, amethyst, topaz, onyx, and jasper. During this time, stones were classified by color rather than chemical composition so it’s possible that some were misclassified.
BIRTHSTONE ROOTS IN OTHER CULTURES
The use of different stones can be found in the history of other cultures as well. In the Hindu faith, the Ratna Pariksha tells of the relationships between gemstones, deities, celestial bodies, and days of the week. The Hindu faith attributes nine gemstones to a corresponding celestial force.
The ancient Egyptians used gemstonesin amulets to combat night terrors along with other things. Ancient Greek warriors would rub hematite on themselves to give them strength in battle. Jade was recognized as a kidney healing stone in China and South America. The Maori of New Zealand have also used jade in their healing practices in the last 200+ years.
TRADITIONAL VS. MODERN BIRTHSTONES
When looking up your birthstone, you may find that you have more than one: a traditional and a modern stone. Both stones are technically correct but the stone you identify with will depend on what you want to know your birthstone for.
Traditional birthstones that we’re familiar with in the US originated in Poland sometime between the 16th-18th centuries. On the other hand, modern birthstones were created by the National Association of Jewelers in the early 1950s. Modern birthstones are different from their traditional counterparts mostly because they’re all transparent. This makes each gem “prettier” when used in jewelry.
HOW TO FIND YOUR BIRTHSTONE
When it comes to birthstones, each one is assigned based on the month you were born. Below the chart, you’ll find a detailed month-by-month description of each stone.
JANUARY - GARNET/GARNET
Garnet is most commonly known to be red but it can actually be found in just about any color of the rainbow. It’s also thought to keep whomever wears it safe while traveling. The word ‘garnet’ comes from the word ‘seed’ because of its close resemblance to a pomegranate seed.
FEBRUARY - AMETHYST/AMETHYST
Amethyst, notably known for its vibrant purple color, originally got its name because the ancient Greeks thought it kept its wielder safe from intoxication. This has made it a popular stone among those who struggle with addiction. It’s also said to give whoever carries it strength and courage in life.
MARCH - BLOODSTONE/AQUAMARINE
Bloodstone is aptly named as it is said to help regulate blood flow and promote strength during childbirth. It’s also a popular stone to be used when trying to heal from emotional trauma (bullying, abuse, etc.)
Aquamarine was thought to cure several different physical diseases and even served as protection to sailors against rough seas sent by the sea God, Neptune.
APRIL - DIAMOND/DIAMOND
Diamonds are most well-known as a universal symbol of everlasting love. However, it was also once thought to bring courage and is a symbol of lightning in the Hindu faith. According to Hindu myth, Indra, the King of Gods, used it as a weapon in battle.
MAY - EMERALD/EMERALD
Emeralds were known as Cleopatra’s favorite gem. During this time, it was associated with fertility, rebirth, and love. In Ancient Roman times, the emerald was dedicated to Venus, the goddess of love and beauty. Today it signifies wisdom, growth, and patience.
JUNE - PEARL/ALEXANDRITE
The pearl is a symbol of purity. In Greek mythology, the pearl is said to be the hardened tears of joy from Aphrodite, the goddess of love. Alexandrite, on the other hand, is a color-changing form of Chrysoberyl. It inspires imagination and encourages a person to listen to their feelings and encourages joy in life.
JULY - RUBY/RUBY
The ruby was considered the “King of Gems” by ancient Hindus. It was believed to have the ability to ward off evil from anyone who wears it. Historically, it was also believed to ward off anger and give its wearer power. Today it is a symbol of love and passion.
AUGUST - SARDONYX/PERIDOT
Sardonyx is a type of onyx that also contains carnelian. It was long used in amulets to grant protection, strength, and willpower to its wearer. The grounding properties of onyx and the strength and courage from carnelian make this great for anxiety.
Peridot symbolizes strength and was once believed to be the hardened tears of the volcanic goddess Pele. It was once believed that peridot would protect from nightmares if it was set in gold.
SEPTEMBER - SAPPHIRE/SAPPHIRE
This blue gemstone was once thought to guard against evil and poison. It has been a favorite stone among kings, priests, and other royalty throughout history as it symbolizes purity and wisdom.
OCTOBER - OPAL/TOURMALINE
The gemstone opal is synonymous to faithfulness and confidence. Its latin meaning, “opalus,” means precious jewel and they used to be worn to ward off evil and protect eyesight.
Many cultures considered finding opal as a gift from the Gods.Tourmaline has a variety of colors in many shades which is where it gets its name from. The Egyptians believed that tourmaline got its color by passing through a rainbow before making it to Earth.
NOVEMBER - TOPAZ/CITRINE
Topaz is said to symbolize love and affection. It’s also said to give whomever wears it strength and intellect. It’s aptly named as it comes from the Sanskrit word for “fire,” “tapas.” Scholars during the renaissance believed this stone could ward off spells and calm your mind.
Citrine is another similarly-colored stone to topaz. As a matter of fact, it was commonly mistaken for topaz before mineral testing was invented. It was regularly used in talismans to arouse a person and ward off bad energy.
DECEMBER - TURQUOISE/TANZANITE
Turquoise is one of the easiest birthstones to identify as it has that eye-popping blue-green color. In ancient cultures, it was believed to have protective powers. Historically, indigenous tribes believed turquoise could help with bow accuracy and was commonly used in rituals too.
While turquoise is one of the oldest gemstones, tanzanite wasn’t discovered until the late 20th century. Tanzanite is a common gemstone used when a person is trying to realign their throat chakra.
BIRTHSTONE USE AND CARE
Now that you’ve identified your birthstone, it’s quite possible you’ve felt connected to it. This may lead you to want to work it into your daily routine and rituals. If that’s the case, there are a few things you should keep in mind before doing so.
- Regular cleansing will keep its energy fresh. When working with any crystal, it’s important to cleanse regularly to keep the energies from being blocked. Water cleansing is a popular method for many crystals but some may rust in water. Look up a specific crystal before cleansing so you can be sure to do it correctly.
- Some stones may work best when paired with other stones. For example, tanzanite works best when paired with hematite as the tanzanite vibration is higher and can feel overwhelming.
- Only work with a stone if it feels right for you. Whatever you plan to use the crystal for, will only be successful if you feel connected to whichever stone you’re working with.
- Watch out for fakes. Unfortunately there are people out there who only prioritize money over quality. Be sure to only purchase your stones from reputable sellers.
- Your opinion matters most. While working with crystals, you’ll find that there are some skeptics out there. What matters most is that you believe in what you’re doing.
How do you feel about your birthstone? Is there one you feel more connected to? Let us know below!