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Roger Weller, geology instructor

by Paul Keys
Physical Geology
Fall 2014


The Different Birthstones

     Beginning way back with the bible story of the twelve tribes, the leader of the Levitical tribe, Aaron brother of Moses, was told by God to make a breastplate that had twelve gemstones on it. Each Gemstone was to represent the different leaders of the tribes.

The tribes and the gemstones that represent them are as follows:

Reuben – Sard,                   Simeon – Peridot,               Levi – Emerald,

Judah – Turquoise,           Dan – Lapis Lazuli,            Nephtali – Moonstone,

Gad – Hyacinth,                  Asher – Agate,                     Zebulon – Amethyst,

Issachar – Chrysolite,       Joseph – Carnelian,          Benjamin – Jasper.


     Since there were 12 different stones they, though history, got assigned to the 12 months. As time went on the 12 stones changed to different stones and 5 more were added. The stones and months are: 

January - Garnet,                February - Amethyst,                     March - Aquamarine,

April - Diamond,                  May - Emerald,                                June - Pearl/Alexandrite,

July - Ruby,                          August - Peridot,                            September - Sapphire,

October - Opal,                    November - Topaz/Citrine            December - Turquoise.


     First up is Garnet which is the birthstone used to represent the month of January. Garnet is best known as a reddish gemstone but can also have as many different colors as there are within the rainbow. The use of Garnet has been dated back to over 5000 years ago when the Ancient Egyptians used them as inlays for their jewelry. Garnet is also thought to be able to keep the wearer safe during his or her travels.

Description: Garnet

     Next is February and its birthstone Amethyst. Amethyst is a quartz crystal, but what makes it rarer than other quartz is its Purple color, since it can range from a colorless lavender to a deep royal purple. Throughout the year Amethyst was considered a regal gem and many people who were high up in their civilization would wear Amethyst to represent their royalty. Amethyst’s name is Greek and it means “sober,” it has this name because the Greek people believed that Amethyst could cure people of intoxication, and keep their mind clear.

Description: Amethyst

     The next birthstone is Aquamarine which is the gemstone for March. Aquamarine is a pale blue-green gemstone that looks like the soft colors of the sea. Aquamarines name is Latin based and means “water of the sea” due to its color. The gemstone was thought to keep sailors safe while they were on the sea, and was placed in water and drunk thinking that it could cure organ problems.

Description: Aquamarine

     Next up is April with its birthstone, Diamond. Diamonds are the hardest mineral known to man and it able to scratch any known mineral. They are also considered a sign of power, wealth, and success, and have been collected in the past by Kings, Queens, and Emperors. Diamonds are also a sign of everlasting love and are thought to be able to bring out the courage in someone.

Description: Diamond

     Now it’s time for May and its birthstone Emerald. Emeralds can be many different shades of green, since the gem represents spring it is said that many different colors of green in the rainforest represents the many different colors of Emeralds. Emerald is a Greek word which means green. It is thought that Emeralds are a symbol of fertility, rebirth, and love, and could grant the wear with foresight, good luck, and youth.

Description: Emerald

     Next is June with its two birthstones Alexandrite and Pearl. June has two birthstones associated with it because of the high cost of Alexandrite and since Pearls are more available to purchase. Alexandrite was named after the Russian Czar Alexander II. Alexandrite is able to change its color in different types of light which is why Alexandrite is expensive. Pearls are gemstones that are grown inside of clams and other types of related muscles, in the early 1900’s process began to commercially culture pearls to replace the natural ones. Pearl is also the symbol of Purity and was considered by the Greeks to be the hardened tears of joy from Aphrodite, the goddess of love.

Description: Pearl Description: Alexandrite Description: Alexandrite

     Now it’s July and its birthstone Ruby to be explained. Rubies are a red gemstone that are in the same family as Sapphires and are the second hardest mineral known to man. The most prized Rubies are ones that are a dark vivid red or slightly purplish red, if the stone is too light or has too much purple or orange it is considered a fancy sapphire. Rubies can be more expensive than diamonds and due to this most Rubies that are found at stores are man-made ones since they are cheaper and are of a better quality. Back during the time of the Ancient Hindus, the Ruby was considered the “king of gems” and was believed to protect the wearer from evil, but now they are thought to guarantee health, wisdom, and success in love to the wearer.

Description: Ruby

     The next month is August and its birthstone the Peridot. Peridot has a light-yellow green to a deep olive color, and it was formed inside of the Earth and was brought to the surface by Volcanos. In Hawaii the Peridot symbolized the tears of Pele, who is the Hawaiian goddess of Fire and Volcanos.  Peridots are thought to contain healing powers and bring power, influence and a wonderful to the wearer, and they were set in gold it is thought that they protect from nightmares.

Description: Peridot

     Up next is September and its birthstone Sapphire. Sapphire is in the same family are rubies, and whatever gemstone is the family isn’t a deep red color is classified as a Sapphire. However, the more prized Sapphires are the blue ones. Sapphires were worn by the clergy men in medieval times because they symbolize heaven, and were thought to bring heavenly blessings. Sapphires are considered to protect you loved ones when worn and to protect the wearer from evil and poisoning. There is also a legend that says when a venomous snake is placed in a container made of sapphire it would die.

Description: Sapphire

     Next is Opal which is the birthstone of the month of October. Opals range in many different colors such as white to black with flasher of other colors. The name opal was taken from the Greek word Opallos which means “to see a change.” Opals symbolized faithfulness and confidence and were worn to repel evil and protect eyesight.

Description: Opal

     Next up is November and like June is has two birthstones, Topaz and Citrine. Topaz were once considered to be any gem that yellow in color and was often confused with other gems due to this. The most price topazes are the Imperial Topaz which is orange with pinkish undertones. Topaz symbolized love and affection and believed to give the wearer increased strength and intelligence. Citrine is the quartz family and is formed when Amethyst is heated. Citrine is orange in color and is one of the cheaper gemstones. Citrine is known as a healing quartz and is supposed to support vitality and health.

Description: Topaz Description: Citrine

     Finally we have December and it’s gemstone Turquoise. Turquoise is normally a light blue to blue-greenish colors and can be described as either the color of the sea or robin eggs, and it can either be translucent to opaque. Turquoise is the symbol of luck and success, believed to relax the mind and protect the wear from harm, and is also considered as a love charm.

Description: Turquoise (All pictures were obtained from this website so a big thanks to them!)