The captivating world of birthstones is steeped in ancient history and mystical beliefs, dating back to biblical times. Each of the twelve months of the year is represented by a gemstone, and the gemstones are said to give the wearer strength and power when worn during their birth month.
The History of Birthstones
In the Book of Exodus, a story describes the first High Priest of the Israelites wearing a breastplate adorning stones in all the colours of the rainbow. Each stone on the garment represented each of the twelve tribes of Israel. Overtime, historians connected the twelve garment stones to the twelve months of the year and the twelve zodiac signs, eventually creating the lore of birthstones we know today.
Birthstones, which are now commonly assigned based on birth month, have their roots in religious significance thanks to the story of Aaron the first High Priest. However, it wasn't until the 18th century that the practice of assigning gemstones according to birth month gained popularity. This tradition is believed to have started in Poland.
Though birthstones are no longer primarily associated with religious beliefs, some people believe they possess healing powers. Alongside specific powers, long-standing superstitions regarding birthstones also exist. In the 5th century, people would collect all the stones from each birth month. Worn altogether, showcasing the colours of the rainbow, birthstones were seen as a symbol of extravagance and wealth.
When worn alone, as in wearing the specific stone during its applicable birth month, it was said the stone’s powers were heightened. But specifically wearing the birthstone for your personal birth month is a relatively new trend that began in the 18th century. Whether or not you subscribe to the mystical lore of birthstones, they remain a classic way to express your individuality and show love to your birth month.
Birthstones in Hinduism
The mystical tradition of birthstones, believed to have influenced customs in the West, also finds its roots in Hindu practices. Within the rich tapestry of Hindu beliefs, the Ratna Pariksha, a 5th-century Hindu text, describes the relationships between gemstones, deities, celestial bodies, and days of the week. This sacred text associates nine gemstones, collectively known as “navaratna” in Sanskrit, with different celestial beings.
The allure of this tradition lies in jewelry designs that revolve around a red ruby or spinel, adorned with a magnificent array of surrounding gems. These masterpieces are believed to bestow cosmic harmony upon the wearer, while also serving as potent symbols of status and prosperity.
Intriguingly, Vedic astrologers further delve into the power of individual stones, recommending specific gems based on astrological birth charts. By harnessing the energies of certain planets or safeguarding against malevolent influences, these gems become powerful talismans in one's cosmic journey.
Embracing the profound connection between gemstones and celestial forces, Hindu traditions enrich the realm of birthstones with an enchanting tapestry of mysticism and cosmic significance.
Birthstones by Birth Month
January’s birthstone is garnet. Available in a rainbow of colours, but mostly known for its dark red colour akin to pomegranate seeds. According to some of the first translations of the Book of Exodus, garnet wasn’t on the High Priest’s breastplate, but in modern times garnet is considered a semi-precious gemstone and can be very valuable depending on the clarity and colour.
February’s birthstone is amethyst – one of today’s most popular and beloved crystals. Amethyst, a captivating variety of Quartz, boasts a dramatic purple colour that ranges from mysterious violet to clear lilac shades. Ancient Greeks believed this stone could protect them from drunkenness and keep their minds steady.
The birthstone for March is aquamarine. Its name comes from the Latin word for “seawater” and traditionally was considered a calming and safety stone for sailors at sea. Its color ranges from pale to dark blue that is reminiscent of the ocean. There is a traditional narrative that said bloodstone was the March birthstone, but when bloodstone became less accessible aquamarine was made the official March birthstone.
Diamonds are associated with love which makes it the ideal gift for a loved one. Diamond is the most popular stone for engagement rings due to it's association with love and romance. Clear, white diamonds are most common but coloured diamonds can be found in yellow, blue, and pink. It is one of the most valuable and expensive of the birthstones.
Emeralds are famous for their beauty, revered for thousands of years for its stunning green colour. Emeralds are considered a symbol of rebirth, and like most green crystals, is said to bring good fortune. Traditionally, emerald is the proper gift for the 20th and 35th wedding anniversaries. It also is popular as an engagement ring stone.
June has two birthstones; pearl and Alexandrite. Pearls are widely popular for their natural beauty. Alexandrite gemstones are very rare and desired because they change colour based on the lighting.
Rubies represent love, health, and wisdom. It was believed wearing red Ruby bequeathed prosperity on its owner. A ruby is the most valuable gemstone, and its value rises based on its colour and quality.
August, like June, has 2 birthstones: peridot and spinel. Peridot is known for its distinct lime green colour. It’s said to have powers of prosperity, wealth and good luck.
Spinel, which comes in all colours of the rainbow, is a protective stone said to keep the wearer safe and deflect sadness.
Sapphire is most sought after in its pure blue colour but comes in almost every colour including pink, yellow and green. In the Middle Ages, the gem was thought to defend those close to you from harm and also symbolized honour and loyalty. Blue sapphire is also a popular stone for engagement rings and other jewelry.
October also has two birthstones; Tourmaline and Opal. Tourmaline is a favourite gemstone for many because it's available in so many beautiful colours. Opal gemstones are unique as each specific gem has a one-of-a-kind colour combination.
November birthdays are connected with two gems; Citrine and Topaz. The glowing colour of Citrine is said to be a gift from the sun, and it's believed to have healing powers usually related to wealth and good luck. Topaz is most coveted in its rich orange Imperial Topaz colour but is also found in a variety of colours like blue, pink and yellow.
Turquoise is the bright blue to a blue-green mineral that has been used in jewelry and sculptures for over 6000 years. Turquoise is a purification stone.
Birthstones of the Zodiac
Although each month has its own birthstone, that doesn’t mean each zodiac sign aligns with that month’s gem. Unlike birthstones, zodiac stones represent the qualities and traits of the astrological signs.
Capricorn Zodiac Stone
As ambitious and strong individuals, Capricorns find resonance with the captivating red ruby, their zodiac stone. The ruby's motivational and protective qualities perfectly align with the determined spirit of Capricorns, empowering them to reach new heights.
Aquarius Zodiac Stone
For the creative and highly intellectual Aquarius, their zodiac stone is the garnet. As Aquarians tend to be less social, garnets encourage openness of mind and heart, nurturing their creativity.
Pisces Zodiac Stone
Emotional, compassionate, and somewhat psychic, Pisceans find solace in the amethyst, their zodiac stone. This crystal enhances psychic abilities and offers a calming presence, aiding Pisces in emotional balance.
Aries Zodiac Stone
Bold and passionate Aries, driven by their hearts, discover strength in the bloodstone, their zodiac stone. Bloodstone enhances courage and vitality, allowing even shyer Aries to tap into their inner reservoir of power.
Taurus Zodiac Stone
For the stubborn and tenacious Taurus, sapphire is the ideal zodiac stone. Enhancing insight, concentration, and creativity, sapphire beautifully complements Taurus's consistent and grounded nature.
Gemini Zodiac Stone
With their racing and active minds, Gemini finds grounding in the calming presence of agate, their zodiac stone. Agate aids in focusing the whirlwind of thoughts and ideas for the ever-curious Gemini.
Cancer Zodiac Stone
Cancers, known for their emotional stability, discover harmony in the emerald, their zodiac stone. Emerald supports their well-being and nurtures the balance that Cancer holds dear.
Leo Zodiac Stone
As steadfast and headstrong leaders, Leos embrace onyx, their zodiac stone. Onyx centres energy and fosters confidence, empowering Leos to become masters of their own destinies.
Virgo Zodiac Stone
Modest and virtuous Virgos find their passion and courage ignited by fiery carnelian, their zodiac stone. Carnelian encourages Virgos to live with fervor and embrace their inner strength.
Libra Zodiac Stone
With their balanced and charming nature, Libras find a perfect match in the peridot, their zodiac stone. While striking with its lime green colour, peridot is a mellow stone that supports the equilibrium and complements the harmony Libras seek.
Scorpio Zodiac Stone
Intensely emotional and instinct-driven Scorpios find tranquility in the calming vibrations of topaz, their zodiac stone. Topaz absorbs negativity and fosters emotional balance for Scorpios.
Sagittarius Zodiac Stone
For the free-spirited Sagittarius, turquoise is the symbol of adventure, growth, and exploration. Representing water, turquoise encapsulates the unrestrained nature of Sagittarians, embracing their zest for life.
In conclusion, the world of birthstones and zodiac stones unravels a mesmerizing tapestry of symbolism, tradition, and cosmic connections. From ancient religious roots to modern-day customs, these mystical gems have held a special place in cultures worldwide. Each birthstone carries unique attributes that resonate with each of the calendar’s twelve months. Let the cosmos guide you, and may these precious stones accompany you on a lifelong adventure of self-discovery and spiritual growth.
International Gem Society LLC. (2021, January 20). History of Birthstones - International Gem Society. International Gem Society. https://www.gemsociety.org/article/history-of-birthstones/