Introduction to Birthstones
Have you ever wondered what your birthstone is or why people even wear them? Birthstones are gemstones that are associated with each month of the year. They hold a special significance and symbolism for people who believe in their power. In this article, we'll take a deep dive into the history, meanings, and practical aspects of birthstones. Let's begin!
Historical Background of Birthstones
The concept of birthstones dates back thousands of years. It can be traced to the Book of Exodus, where the High Priest's breastplate had 12 gemstones, each representing one of the 12 tribes of Israel. Later, these stones were linked to the signs of the zodiac and then to the months of the year.
Birthstones in Different Cultures
Over time, various cultures developed their own interpretations and lists of birthstones. Some lists were based on the zodiac signs, while others were based on the calendar months. Today, the most widely accepted list of birthstones is the modern list, which was standardized in 1912 by the American National Retail Jewellers Association (now known as Jewellers of America).
Birthstone Meanings and Symbolism
January - Garnet
Garnet, the birthstone for January, symbolises friendship, trust, and loyalty. This deep red stone is believed to bring protection during travels and ward off evil.
February - Amethyst
Amethyst, the birthstone for February, is a violet variety of quartz. It represents peace, balance, and inner strength. In ancient times, it was believed to protect its wearer from drunkenness and to bring clarity of mind.
March - Aquamarine
Aquamarine, the birthstone for March, is a blue-green gemstone associated with the sea. It symbolises courage, hope, and self-expression. Sailors used to wear this stone for protection during their voyages.
April - Diamond
Diamond, the birthstone for April, is a symbol of eternal love, strength, and invincibility. It is the hardest gemstone on Earth and is believed to bring clarity, balance, and abundance to its wearer.
May - Emerald
Emerald, the birthstone for May, is a vibrant green gemstone associated with rebirth, love, and wisdom. It was believed to grant its wearer foresight and protection from evil.
June - Pearl, Alexandrite
June has two birthstones: Pearl and Alexandrite. Pearls are organic gems formed in molluscs and symbolise purity, innocence, and loyalty. Alexandrite is a rare gemstone that changes colour under different lighting conditions, symbolizing transformation, creativity, and balance.
July - Ruby
Ruby, the birthstone for July, is a deep red gemstone that represents passion, love, and courage. It is believed to bring good fortune, protection, and success to its wearer.
August - Peridot
Peridot, the birthstone for August, is a light green gemstone that symbolizes strength, growth, and prosperity. It is also believed to bring happiness and protection to its wearer.
September - Sapphire
Sapphire, the birthstone for September, is a blue gemstone that signifies wisdom, loyalty, and nobility. It is believed to bring spiritual enlightenment and inner peace.
October - Opal, Tourmaline
October has two birthstones: Opal and Tourmaline. Opals are known for their mesmerising play of colours and symbolise hope, faith, and creativity. Tourmaline comes in various colours, representing balance, compassion, and wisdom.
November - Topaz, Citrine
November also has two birthstones: Topaz and Citrine. Topaz, in its various colours, symbolises love, affection, and strength. Citrine, a yellow gemstone, represents warmth, energy, and abundance.
December - Turquoise, Tanzanite, Zircon
December has three birthstones: Turquoise, Tanzanite, and Zircon. Turquoise, a blue-green gemstone, symbolises protection, wisdom, and good fortune. Tanzanite, a rare blue-violet gemstone, represents transformation, intuition, and spiritual growth. Zircon, which comes in various colours, symbolises healing, balance, and prosperity.
Choosing the Right Birthstone
When choosing a birthstone, consider its quality factors such as colour, clarity, cut, and carat weight. A high-quality gemstone will have a vivid colour, good clarity, and an excellent cut, which will maximise its beauty and value.
In addition to quality factors, consider your personal preferences, such as the gemstone's colour, style, and symbolism. You may also choose a birthstone based on your zodiac sign or a gemstone that has special meaning to you or your loved ones.
Caring for Your Birthstone
Cleaning and Storage
Proper care is essential to maintain the beauty and longevity of your birthstone jewellery. Clean your gemstones regularly with a soft cloth or a gentle brush and mild soapy water. Avoid using harsh chemicals or ultrasonic cleaners, as they may damage some gemstones. Store your birthstone jewellery in a soft pouch or a lined jewellery box to prevent scratches and damage.
Regularly inspect your birthstone jewellery for loose settings, worn prongs, or other signs of wear. It is recommended to have your jewellery checked and cleaned by a professional jeweller at least once a year to ensure its longevity.
Birthstones are more than just beautiful gemstones; they carry a rich history and deep symbolism that connects us with our past and helps us celebrate our individuality. By understanding the history, meanings, and practical aspects of birthstones, you can make a more informed decision when choosing the perfect gemstone for yourself or your loved ones.
Are birthstones always natural gemstones?
- No, some birthstones are available in both natural and lab-created forms. Lab-created gemstones have the same chemical, physical, and optical properties as natural ones but are created in a laboratory environment. They are generally more affordable and have fewer inclusions than natural gemstones.
Can I wear a birthstone that is not associated with my birth month?
- Absolutely! You can choose to wear any gemstone that you feel connected to or appreciate for its beauty and symbolism, regardless of your birth month.
Do birthstones have any healing properties?
- While many people believe that birthstones possess healing properties and can influence their wearer's well-being, there is no scientific evidence to support these claims. However, the symbolism and personal connections associated with birthstones can have a positive impact on one's emotional and mental state.
How do I know if a birthstone is genuine?
- To determine if a birthstone is genuine, it's best to consult with a professional gemologist or jeweler. They can use specialized tools and techniques to verify the authenticity of a gemstone.
Is it possible to customize birthstone jewelry?
- Yes, many jewelers offer customization options for birthstone jewelry, such as creating a unique setting, combining different gemstones, or engraving a personal message. This allows you to create a one-of-a-kind piece that reflects your personal style and sentiment.