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Roger Weller, geology instructor

by Joengeun Park
Physical Geology
Fall 2012


            My topic is birthstones. In Korea, the people have their own birthstones, and each stone has its own meaning. I want to introduce the birthstones from January to December and discuss how different the symbols are from each other, how different they look like, and why birthstones have the meaning.


            In the past, Jews who migrated from Poland and Central Europe had a custom of making decorations that corresponded to their month of birth. Each of the twelve months had a different jewel.  The twelve jewels became known as birthstones. People believed that if one carried the stone, it would bring good fortune, honor, and longevity.

The birthstone for January is called garnet.  The garnet birthstone has a means truth, chastity, friendship, power, loyalty, and effort that leads to success and victory. In the past during the Crusades, people believed that if soldiers carry a garnet while in the battle, they would be protected from any harm.  People had much faith in the power of a garnet. “Garnet” is a collective term for minerals from a group of eight kinds of stones that have a similar chemical composition. The hardness of the garnet is 6.5 to 7.5, and it is a dodecahedron.  Garnet is easily confused with the ruby.   People usually think the garnet is a dark red colored stone, but garnet has a variety of colors such as green and brown, and some of the stones have a discolored effect or star effect.  Major producers are Sri Lanka, Brazil, the United States, and South Africa.


The February birthstone is the Amethyst.  Amethyst means peace, sincerity, and chastity.   People believe that an amethyst helps you rightly judge love.   Also, western people believe if they carry an amethyst, they will never get drunk while they are drinking.   Amethyst is a kind of quartz from near colorless to pale purple to dark purple.  The darker the color the more beautiful an amethyst is considered.  The chemical composition of SiO2 forms a crystal structure of the rhombohedra crystal system.  The purple color is because of Fe +3 ions.  The hardness of amethyst is 7.   The main producing areas are Brazil, the Soviet Union, Uruguay, Sri Lanka, India, and South Korea where the best qualities of amethysts are found. 


            The March birthstone is aquamarine.   Aquamarine has a common meaning of intelligence, bravery, and composure.   It is a compound of “aqua” and “marine.” It belongs to the beryl group, which is in the emerald family.   It is the colors of the sea; the word “aquamarine” means water and the sea.   Blue beryl, which is green-colored like seawater, is a part of the beautiful aquamarine family.  Aquamarine is a valuable mineral like the emerald, but it has almost no inclusion and the large hexagonal crystals are calculated.  Brazil is the highest producer but other producing areas include Russia (the Ural Mountains), South Africa, India, Burma, Madagascar, and United States.



            The April birthstone is diamond.  Diamond means nobility and eternal love.   It also thought to bring happiness and wealth, and is a symbol of good luck. Because of its meaning, diamond is used for engagement rings.  Diamond is formed by Isometric politics of the carbon crystal structure and the color is formed by small amounts of impurities.  Diamond becomes yellow or orange when exposed to nitrogen, green when exposed to boron and blue when exposed to irradiation.  Diamond is the hardest gemstone.  The hardness is equivalent to 10.  The main producing areas are South Africa, Australia, Brazil, Russia, Tswana, and China.  


            The May birthstone is emerald.  Emerald means purity and beauty of nature. It also brings luck and happiness. The ancient Romans used emeralds as a necklace because they thought it helped their eyes from getting fatigued and they also thought the stone treated weakness of eyes.  Emerald is popular and one of most valuable gemstone like ruby and sapphire.   Emerald is a greenish- variant of beryl, and chromium is responsible for the color of emerald.   It always contains inclusions.   Also, you should pay attention to the setting or wearing; it is fragile because there is grain inside of the emerald.  Oil processing improves (hides) flaws or the transparency.  The major producers are Colombia, Russia (Siberia), Zambia, South African Republic, Zimbabwe, Brazil, and India.


            The June birthstone is Pearl.  Pearl means health, longevity, and wealth.  Pearl is from mollusks in fresh or salt water.   It is created by oysters and mussels.  Pearls begin when oysters react to protect themselves from a grain of sand or a parasite that comes into their shells.  If a foreign substance enters the clam, it wraps up the dirt or grain for a long period of time to protect itself which leads to the secretion that becomes a pearl.   Mother-of-Pearl is approximately 0.5mm, and the calcium carbonate layer contains hundreds of concentric layers of more than 1,000-folds in the pearl to make it more valuable in order to be counted.


            The July birthstone is Ruby.  Ruby means passion, love, and dignity.   It symbolizes the fascinating and intense light, and it also symbolizes authority and wealth.  Ruby is the Latin word “Rubrum” which means red.  The red is the most suitable color to express human passion and sincerity.  Ruby is the second hardest stone after diamond.   Ruby is one of a popular jewelry that has vigor; it symbolizes courage, passion, and freedom. 



            The August birthstone is Peridot.  Peridot means escape and liberation from the darkness.  It symbolizes the harmony of conjugal and bliss.  Peridot is a jewelry that is a transparent yellowish-green color.  Iron gives it the color, and it is formed by the orthorhombic crystal system. The major producers are: Jabar of the Red Sea Guard, Myanmar, Hawaii, United States, Norway, Australia, Brazil, and China.



            The September birthstone is sapphire. Sapphire with intense blue light means integrity honesty, charity, and truth.   It symbolizes immutable truth, wisdom, and virtue, so in the past, many kings owned them.  Elderly people believed that the sapphire and ruby had a strong healing power, so they gave it as a gift to their lovers.  It was used as medical stone to detoxify poison.  Sapphire has the same crystal structure and chemical composition as ruby.  Sapphire and ruby belong to a variant of the corundum gems.  Usually sapphire is a blue color but others have a variety of colors.  Sapphire is calculated greater gemstone than Ruby. It is less scarce than Ruby.  The major producers are sapphire of Sri Lanka, the U.S. state of Montana, and Australia.  The most valuable sapphire is in the Kashmir Mountains.


            The October birthstone is opal.  Opal means women’s happiness, hope, and purity.  Also, it has a meaning of willpower, happiness, joy, and comfort.  Opal has all the colors that are noticeable, so it is known as cupid stones.  Depending on how you view the angles, you can see a variety of colors. Color- changing phenomenon is called a fire.  Divided into transparent or opaque,  stones that have the colored effect are precious.  

The November birthstone is topaz that means friendship, hope, and innocence.  It originated between Africa and the Arabian Peninsula which had the old name of Josstopa.  Some people believed that if they carried topaz, their friends and lovers would not leave, and they would get rid of sorrow, and they would get courage and wisdom.  In the past it was represented by yellow jewelry.  Reddish yellow is top-grade jewelry.  When topaz is heated, it is charged with electric pulses, and if it reaches a high temperature, it will become discolored. The main producers are Brazil, the United States, Mexico, Australia, Myanmar, and Zimbabwe.


            The December birthstone is turquoise. Turquoise means success, achievement, and victory.   Some people believe that when they carry the stones as amulets, it is called a power stone that protects any risks.  It is a mostly an opaque gemstone; turquoise is blue and has a variety of colors depending on its hue. Turquoise is a typical blue stone.  It is one of the oldest jewelry that depends on the contents of the hue.   It can be greenish blue, light blue, or turquoise color. Turquoise is weak when heated and humid so it could fade or crack.  To maintain the color, the owner should avoid putting the turquoise in sunlight. They should clean the sweat off after wearing.  Regardless of the name, turquoise does not mean “Turkey.”  The major producers are mainly Iran, the United States, Egypt, and the Sinai Peninsula.



            Nowadays people carry birthstone as accessories; rings, earrings, necklaces, and bracelets.   Some people created birthstone to improve and develop their lives. Also, different cultures around the world have developed different birthstone lists.






Works Cited

"Birthstone." Juwon, 16 Oct. 2012. Web. 28 Nov. 2012.

"Birthstones: Select Your Month." Service Merchandise. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Nov. 2012.
"" N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Nov. 2012.
"History of Birthstones." History of Birthstones. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Nov. 2012.
Silva, Nishadha. "Birthstone by Month Chart Birthstones List." Birthstone Jewelry. N.p., 4 July 2011. Web. 28 Nov. 2012.