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Chatelaine's Antiques & Appraisals Magazine > Jewelry > Expert Tip: Birthstones

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 Birthstones: Origins and Their Meanings

A gift that incorporates birthstones is a thoughtful one for a mother or grandmother, especially when a new baby has come into the family. And of course, they make great birthday presents!

Traditional Gem: Garnet, Rose Quartz
Modern Gem: Garnet
The garnet was once thought to be connected with the blood. This stone is supposed to protect the wearer from nightmares and offer guidance through the dark.

Traditional Gem: Amethyst, Onyx
Modern Gem: Amethyst
The folklore attached to the amethyst associates it with sobriety, tranquility, protection and peace. This birthstone as also been linked to improving the skin and preventing baldness, as well as protection from deceit.

Traditional Gem: Bloodstone
Modern Gem: Aquamarine
The aquamarine has been linked to the making of new friends as well as affection and love, hope and health. This stone was once also thought to protect those at sea.

Traditional Gem: Diamond
Modern Gem: Diamond
One of the most popular gems throughout history, diamonds are linked to love, eternity, and strength.

Traditional Gem: Emerald, Chrysoprase
Modern Gem: Emerald
The emerald was once linked to health and the curing of ailments, as well as being associated with the ability to see in to the future, giving them an almost bewitching, magical reputation.

Traditional Gem: Alexandrite
Modern Gem: Pearl, Moonstone
The pearl has been linked with chastity and modesty, making it something of an angelic, pure birthstone. It is also linked to successful and happy marriages.

Traditional Gem: Ruby
Modern Gem: Ruby, Carnelian
The ruby is traditionally linked with protection and harmony. This birthstone has been mined since ancient times, and boasts a spectacular beauty.

Traditional Gem: Sardonyx
Modern Gem: Peridot
Peridot was commonly linked with protection against evil and night terrors, as well as a gem that enhanced the properties of healing drugs.

Traditional Gem: Sapphire, Lapis
Modern Gem: Sapphire
The sapphire has been linked with faith and purity, as well as foresight. It was thought that the stronger the sparkle of the gem, the more faithful and honest the wearer.

Traditional Gem: Tourmaline
Modern Gem: Opal, Tourmaline
The opal has been linked to purity, hope and innocence. This gem has also been linked to healing forces, friendship and emotion, so it has experienced its fair share of folklore over the years.

Traditional Gem: Citrine
Modern Gem: Yellow Topaz, Citrine
Topaz was once linked with sanity, healing, and life, as well as being connected to strength by the ancient Greeks. This stone has even been linked to an ability to make the wearer invisible in dangerous situations.

Traditional Gem: Zircon, Turquoise, Lapis Lazuli
Modern Gem: Blue Topaz, Turquoise
Turquoise was once linked to happiness, fortune and luck, making it a very popular gem in centuries gone by.



Month Modern Traditional Alternate Ayurvedic Other Birthstones
 January Rhotolite, Garnet  Garnet Rose Quartz Garnet Rose Quartz
 February Amethyst Amethyst Onyx, Moonstone Amethyst Onyx, Moonstone
 March Aquamarine Bloodstone Rock Crystal Bloodstone Rock Crystal
 April Diamond or White Sapphire Diamond White Quartz Diamond Quartz, White Sapphire
 May Emerald or Green Tourmaline Emerald Tsavorite Garnet Agate Chrysoprase, Beryl
 June Alexandrite or Pearl Alexandrite Opal, Moonstone, Cat's Eye Pearl Opal
 July Ruby Ruby Rubellite Tourmaline Ruby Carnelian
 August Peridot or Jade Sardonyx Star Sapphire Sapphire Jade
 September Blue Sapphire Blue Sapphire Tanzanite, Lapis, Iolite Moonstone Lapis Lazuli, Diamond, Chrsolite
 October Pink Sapphire or Kunzite Pink Tourmaline Pink Tourmaline, Morganite  Opal Pink Tourmaline, Zircon, Aquamarine
 November Yellow Sapphire Yellow Citrine Diamond, Tiger's Eye Topaz Diamond
 December Blue Sapphire, Spinel, and Topaz Blue Zircon Diamond, Turquoise Ruby  

In the Old Testament, the book of Exodus tells the story of the Breastplate of Aaron, used in religious ceremonies. (Aaron…just in case you were absent from Sunday school that day…was the Biblical figure who performed, at Moses' direction, the miracles that confounded Pharaoh and his magicians.)

 Aaron's breastplate was adorned with four rows of gemstones, three gemstones in each row, in the following pattern:

Sardius, topaz, carbuncle; emerald, sapphire, diamond; ligure, agate, amethyst; beryl, onyx, jasper.

 These twelve gemstones represented the twelve tribes of Israel. The twelve positions were later co-opted by astrologers who linked them to the twelve months of the calendar year and the twelve signs of the zodiac.

The Modern Birthstone list contains the official birthstone list from the American National Association of Jewelers, Jewelers of America. These gemstones were officially adopted in 1912. In the US, this is the accepted list.

The Traditional Birthstone list contains older birthstones and is sometimes combined with the modern birthstone list. These stones reflect societal birthstone traditions, heralding back to the 15th century. (Many jewelers have differing lists of traditional birthstones.)

The Mystical Birthstone list is of Tibetan origin from over a thousand years ago.

The Ayurvedic Birthstone list is from Ayurvedic Indian Medicine - a type of medicine used for over a thousand years.

Stones listed in the "other" column were correlated by Dave Thompson and others participating on the usenet newsgroup as alternative birthstones for each month. The Curious Lore of Precious Stones by George Frederick Kunz has a wonderful list of birthstones from different cultures.

The Traditional Birthstone List contains these older birthstones and represents birthstone traditions heralding back to the 15th century.

 The Modern Birthstone List was created by the National Association of Jewelers in 1912 in Kansas City, Missouri. Gemstone purists complained that the NAJ list was devised solely for commercial purposes (they probably didn't believe in Santa Claus either!). As a result, astrologers who prescribed gems often substituted alternate or secondary stones.

 The Mystical Birthstone list below originated in from Tibet over a thousand years ago.

 The Ayurvedic Birthstone list is derived from age-old Ayurvedic Indian Medicine, a practice of native people for more than a century.

 Month Modern Traditional Mystical Ayurverdic
 January Garnet Garnet Emerald Garnet
 February Amethyst Amethyst Amethyst Bloodstone
 March Aquamarine Bloodstone Jade Bloodstone
 April Diamond Diamond Opal Quartz
 May Emerald Emerald Sapphire Agate
 June Pearl Alexandrite Moonstone Pearl
 July Ruby Ruby Ruby Ruby
 August Peridot Sardonyx Diamond Sapphire
 Sept. Sapphire Sapphire Agate Lapis Lazuli
 October Opal Tourmaline Tourmaline Jasper
 November Yellow Topaz Citrine Citrine Pearl
 December Turquoise Lapis Lazuli Onyx Ruby

Astrologically speaking, your place on the Zodiac is more meaningful than your birth month for tapping into your "power," which has led to the creation of the following list of "Star Stones" related to the star under which you were born, rather than the day.
Capricorn (Dec. 22-Jan. 19) - Ruby, Agate, Garnet
Aquarius (Jan. 20-Feb. 18) - Garnet, Moss Agate, Opal, Amethyst,
Pisces (Feb. 19-Mar. 20) - Rock Crystal, Sapphire, Amethyst, Bloodstone Aries (Mar. 21-Apr. 19) - Bloodstone, Diamond
Taurus (Apr. 20-May 20) - Sapphire, Turquoise, Amber, Blood Coral, Emerald
Gemini (May 21-Jun. 20) - Agate, Chrysoprase, Pearl
 Cancer (Jun. 21-Jul. 22) - Emerald, Moonstone, Pearl, Ruby
 Leo (Jul. 23-Aug. 22) - Tourmaline, Sardonyx, Onyx
 Virgo (Aug. 23-Sep. 22) - Jasper, Carnelian, Jade, Sapphire
 Libra (Sep. 23-Oct. 22) - Opal, Lapis Lazuli, Peridot
 Scorpio (Oct. 23-Nov. 21) - Aquamarine, Topaz
 Sagittarius (Nov. 22-Dec. 21) - Sapphire, Amethyst, Turquoise, Topaz

 So whether you choose an emerald from the Breastplate of Aaron, a moonstone from Tibet's mystical birthstone list, an opal for its ayurvedic birthstone properties, or your very own "star sign" representative…may the force (of the birthstone) be with you!
Sun Sign Birthstone Planetary Stone Lucky Charms

(Dec. 22-Jan. 19)
Ruby, Agate, Garnet Lapis Lazuli Ruby

(Jan. 20-Feb. 18)
Garnet, Moss Agate, Opal, Amethyst Turquoise Garnet, Hyacinth

(Feb. 19-Mar. 20)
Rock Crystal, Sapphire, Amethyst, Bloodstone Aquamarine Amethyst

(Mar. 21-Apr. 19)
Bloodstone, Diamond Jasper Diamond, Jasper, Bloodstone

(Apr. 20-May 20)
Sapphire, Turquoise, Amber, Coral, Emerald Emerald, Aventurine Sapphire, Diamond

(May 21-Jun. 20)
Agate, Chrysoprase, Pearl Tiger Eye Agate, Emerald

(Jun. 21-Jul. 22)
Emerald, Moonstone, Pearl, Ruby Moonstone Emerald, Agate, Chalcedony

(Jul. 23-Aug. 22)
Tourmaline, Sardonyx, Onyx Rock Crystal Peridot, Onyx, Amber

(Aug. 23-Sep. 22)
Jasper, Carnelian, Jade, Sapphire Citrine Carnelian, Sardonyx

(Sep. 23-Oct. 22)
Opal, Lapis Lazuli, Peridot Sapphire Opal, Chrsolite, Sardonyx

(Oct. 23-Nov. 21)
Aquamarine, Topaz Garnet, Ruby Aquamarine, Beryl

(Nov. 22-Dec. 21)
Sapphire, Amethyst, Turquoise, Topaz Topaz Topaz, Pearl


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