Geology Home Page physical geology historical geology planetary gems
Roger Weller, geology instructor
by Paul Keys
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
http://www.americangemsociety.org/birthstones (All pictures were obtained from this website so a big thanks to them!)