Birthstones

We have decided to bring to you a post on a subject that intrigues many jewel connoisseurs: birthstones! 

As we all know birthstones are gemstone(s) that are associated with a date of birth - meaning one gemstone for all months, although with some exception that months can have more than one.

Traditionally thought to attract good luck & health, as birthstones are said to posses supernatural powers.

The Western birthstone origin is believed to originate from the Biblical Breastplate of Aaron. Aaron was the brother of Moses, who was a prophet in his own right & the first High Priest of Israelites. His ceremonial breastplate is told to obtain 4 rows of three gems, each one symbolising the 12 months of the year, and signs of the zodiac.

 

 1. JANUARY

Garnet originates from the Middle English 'gernet', which translates to ‘dark red'. 'Garnet' is actually the name of a group of minerals which vary widely in colour, from deep red to bright green. Some rare garnets can even present a blue or be colourless. However, the most common tone is the deep red that most people familiarise with.

The Garnet stone, a durable gem, measuring 6.5-7.5 on the Mohs hardness scale, is encountered all over the world, from North America to Asia.

Legend has it that they bring peace, wealth & good health. It’s thought that if one wears it and practices good deeds, more good will return to that person, and vice verse with bad practices. It also symbolises deep & lasting friendships, and is a treasured gift for anyone lucky enough to have a January birthday.

 

 2. FEBRUARY

The Amethyst is undeniably a beautiful quartz, with the name coming from the Ancient Greek 'methustos', translating to ‘intoxicated'. This is due to the wearers of Ancient Greece who believed that it would protect them from drunkenness! 

Amethyst is generally a purple hue, but can range from light pink to deep purple bordering the appearance of dark blue / red. Amethyst gets its purple hue from irradiation, iron impurities and some trace elements within the gemstone. It measures at a 7 on the Mohs scale, holding its place as a durable option for jewellery. 

The Amethyst commonly occurs in geodes or granitic rock cavities, and can be encountered all over the world, especially in North America and Brazil. 

 

 

 3. MARCH

Unsurprisingly this light blue gem, the aquamarine gets its name from the Latin 'aqua', meaning 'water', and 'marina', meaning ‘sea’. Generally light in tone and ranges from greenish-blue to blueish-green, with deep blue stones tending to be more valuable.

This beryl gemstone is mined majorly in Brazil, but can be found in Pakistan and corners of Africa. As the aquamarine grows in very large, six-sided crystals of up to a foot, it can be an excellent gem for large carats and statement pieces. It’s durable and beautiful gemstone, measuring 7.5-8 on the Mohs scale.

Many myths & legends are associated with aquamarine. It has been portrayed as a symbol of happiness & everlasting youth, and it was thought to strengthen love and even render soldiers invincible throughout the medieval times.

 

 

 

4. APRIL 

The Diamond, the most famous gemstone prized for its toughness: made of carbon, it's the hardest natural occurring material on earth, measuring a strong 10 on the Mohs scale. Meaning it can only be cut with another diamond! 

Diamonds are encountered in at least 35 countries around the world and are available in lots of colours, including yellow, red, pink, blue & green. With intensities ranging from faint to vivid. The more saturated its colour, the more valued the gemstone is.

The unique diamond has the greatest lustre of any gemstone when it is correctly cut and polished - this is a luxurious stone with some real sparkle.

 

 5. MAY

The ‘Emerald' is derived from the word 'smaragdus', meaning 'green' in Ancient Greek.

Like aquamarine, the Emerald is a variety of beryl. It is encountered all around the world, especially in Colombia, Brazil, Afghanistan and Zambia.

Alike the Aquamarine, it stands at a 7.5-8 on the Mohs scale & is quite sturdy. High quality Emeralds are quite limited in availability, so it is frequently treated to improve clarity.

Emeralds range in colours from light green to deep, green. However, there’s an argument about whether extremely light green beryls should be considered Emeralds. The deeper green an Emerald is, the more valuable it is. With the very rarest being an intense green/blue colour. 

The Emerald stone is a symbol of rebirth, and has been believed to offer the owner foresight, fortune, and youth. 

 

  6. JUNE

It’s name originates from the Old French 'perle', meaning 'leg', which references the shape of an open mollusc shell where pearls are found. Pearls are known to be the only gems created by living things, and are created by molluscs depositing layers of calcium carbonate around tiny irritants that get trapped within its shells. 

The most expensive pearls are obviously natural pearls created in the wild, although the majority of pearls sold today are now cultured and farmed. The most valued pearls show a reflective lustre, giving off a creamy white with a colourful, iridescent shine. Cultured freshwater pearls are sometimes also dyed various colours. 

Pearls were once found all around the world, but are mostly encountered on the Persian Gulf near Bahrain. A lot of freshwater cultured pearls now come from China, and South Sea pearls are cultured along the northwestern coastline of Australia, the Philippines & Indonesia. A very soft gem, ranging from 2.4 to 4.5 on the Mohs scale. For a fact they are very sensitive to heat and chemical changes - they can even dissolve in vinegar.

Pearls symbolise purity & innocence, hence why in many cultures a bride wears pearls on her wedding day. Pearls are also traditionally gifted on 1st, 3rd, 12th and 30th of wedding anniversaries.

The other two May birthstones are the bluish-red Alexandrite, & shimmering moonstones.

 8. JULY

Ruby originates from the Latin 'rubeus', meaning 'red'. In Ancient Sanskrit, this name translated to 'king of precious stones'. The chromium that is responsible for the Ruby’s red hue also causes flourescence, giving Rubies their own warm glow. However, chromium can cause cracks and fissures too, so what causes the gem to be so beautiful is what also makes it a rarity.

Throughout history Burma produced the finest rubies, famed for their deep purplish-red colour. Other deposits exist mainly around Asia, as well as parts of East Africa and U.S.A. Ruby holds a place as the 2nd hardest gemstone at a solid 9 on the Mohs scale, and is only beaten by the famous diamond. 

The deep blood colour of the Ruby holds an association with blood, vitality & the force of life. It is believed to give the wearer increased energy, awareness, courage & way to success.

 

  7. PERIDOT

The origin of the Peridot's name is surprisingly unclear. It seems that it is derived from the Arabic word ‘faridat', meaning 'gem, although some experts believe it to be from the Greek ‘peridona, translating to giving plenty'. 

The gem-quality variety of common mineral olivine. The green hue comes derives from the mineral composition of the gem, rather than the trace of other impurities in the case many other gems. Giving the reason to why it’s one of the rare stones that is only available in a single colour. 

Most peridots originate from Arizona, but some are sourced from China, Myanmar, Pakistan & Africa. It can at rare times be encountered within meteorites too. Measuring a 6.5 to 7 on the Mohs scale, and even though the raw stone is prone to cracks during cutting, the finished gemstones are relatively robust and suitable as jewellery.

Peridot is at times also known as the 'evening emerald' because of its shiny green colour. It is known to hold powers of healing that ward off nightmares and evil. In Hawaii, the Peridot symbolises the tears of Pele, the goddess of the volcano who which is in control of the lava flow. This is due to it can being found in lava flows, which gifts it to the earth's surface.

Other August birthstones include the reddish-striped Sardonyx & the colourful Spinel, often mistaken for gems such as the Ruby & Sapphire.

 

 8. SEPTEMBER

The name 'sapphire' derives from the Latin 'sapphirus' and the Greek word 'sappheiros', translating to ‘blue stone' - this originally may have referred to ‘lapis lazuli’.

Sapphires are typically referred to the rich blue gem range of the Corundum mineral, but can be encountered in all colours except red (which is what classifies as a ruby), and Sapphires in all colours except blue are known as 'fancies'. 

Sapphires are encountered throughout the majority of South and East Asia, as well as Australia, Brazil, Africa and some areas of North America especially Montana. Sapphires, alike rubies, are extremely hard, measuring a 9 on the Mohs scale. Making them desirable for industrial applications and decorative purposes.

Sapphires symbolise loyalty, nobility, sincerity & integrity. They are associated with focus & self-discipline - perhaps a suitable gift for a scholar?

 

 9. OCTOBER

Tourmalines are great gemstones; particularly for their vibrant colours. Its name, very appropriately, comes from the Singhalese words ‘tura mali', which translates to ‘mixed stones'. Fitting perfectly with this fantastic jewel in the light of a wide range of exciting colours you can discover in the tourmaline family. A legend tells that Tourmaline can be found in so many colours because it has travelled along a rainbow gathering all of them in order to get here.

Tourmaline's colours and hues have many are caused by many factors. It’s believed that the traces of iron, and maybe titanium, induce green & blue hues. Manganese produces reds & pinks, and maybe yellows. The Tourmaline colours are such a distinct characteristic of the gemstone, that they have inspired their own trade names e.g Rubellite (pink-reddish), Indicolite (dark violetish blue), Paraíba (neon violetish-blue hue, greenish-blue), Chrome tourmaline (deep green) and Watermelon (pink centre & green over the outside). 

The green Tourmaline is the most common colour to occur on the market & provides a wonderful alternative to the deep intense rich hue of Emerald and the green of the Peridot gemstone.  At its very best, green Tourmalines are transparent, brilliant & clean, with attractive bluish green colours.

Tourmalines are believed to inspire great creativity & traditionally used extensively as a talisman by artists and writers to inspire. The rich pink Tourmaline is known to be the gemstone of poets & teachers.

Other October gemstones include the Opal.

 

 10. NOVEMBER

'Topaz' deriving from the ‘topazios', the Ancient Greek name for St. John's island in the Egyptian Red Sea. Although the gemstones are mined in that region most likely weren't actually Topaz, it then rapidly became the name for many yellow-hued stones.

Although the pure Topaz is colourless, impurities can cause it to be almost any hue. Precious Topaz varies from muddy orange to yellow, and it is often  mistaken for the Citrine gemstone. The most prized Topaz hue comes from the imperial Topaz, which varies from orange to pink.

The Brazilian state of Minas Gerais has one of the greatest of Topaz mines in the world, as well as being encountered in other places around the world. It measures a strong 8 on the Mohs scale, making it very durable - but its perfect cleavage can make it prone to chipping & cracking if not cut in the correct way.

Topaz is a remarkable stone famed for its soothing properties, and is said to calm tempers, cure madness and ward off nightmares.

The 2nd November birthstone is the fiery citrine, which carries its name from 'citron' due to its warm, citrussy colours.

 

 

 12. DECEMBER

All December's gemstones have one thing in common: their icy blue colours! 

The blue Topaz is mined in many parts of the world, but majorly in Brazil's Minas Gerais state. Topaz is scaled at an 8 on the Mohs hardness scale, making it a very durable gem. Within mythology, the blue Topaz is considered a gem of peacefulness and healing. It has been thought to bring protection and reconciliation with ones enemies. 

Blue Turquoise originally derives from Egypt and the Ancient Persian region - its hue is commonly referred to as 'Persian blue', even at this day (regardless of its origin). In modern days, the USA is the world's greatest supplier of Turquoise. Being a soft stone, the hardest Turquoise only measures at a 6 on the Mohs scale. However, it holds a grand beauty and is an enduringly popular gemstone, which is said to offer power and protection especially against falls.

Unique blue Tanzanite originates from only a single place in the world: Tanzania hence its name. It’s found only within a few square miles of land close to Mount Kilimanjaro. Being discovered only recently during the 1960’s, blue Tanzanite has rapidly grown in popularity due to its deep hue and relatively limited supply,  guaranteeing its lasting popularity, especially for pieces such as pendants & earrings. 

The final gemstone of December is the marvellous Zircon, a gemstone not to be mistaken with the synthetic Cubic Zirconia. Although Zircon has a well known mud-red, blue Zircon is most popular hue to occur. It measures 7.5 on the Mohs scale, with its faceted edges are known to chip occasionally. Most Zircon is encountered in Australia, where it dates back 4.4 billion years. It has long been believed that this gemstone can ward off evil, induce better sleep, and help its wearer become prosperous and successful.