I’ve always had a childlike fascination with birthstone gems. The bright colors, the engaging descriptions that pair each gemstone and month together – it brings about the kind of mystical joy you get from reading your daily horoscope. Who knows what the future will hold? Your gemstone is the key…
Some historians believe the idea of the birthstone gem started 4,000 years ago with a breastplate of twelve gemstones worn by Moses’ brother Aaron. Other scholars point to India, theorizing that birthstone gems were born from the ancient Hindu science of gemstone study known as Ratna Pariksha. While the exact origin story is uncertain, we do know that in 1912, the National Association of Jewelers officially standardized the list of birthstone gems in the Western world.
Since then the list of official birthstones continues to be upheld yet modified to embrace both modern and traditional stones. At Aide-mémoire we’ve tailored our list of birthstone gems to include only those that come from ethical suppliers. Want to know more about each stone? Let’s take a look at a few fun facts.
Winter: December, January, February
December: Blue Topaz (natural-irradiated), or Blue Zircon (natural)
- Both these stones are considered modern birthstones options.
- The term topaz originates from either the Sanskrit word topas or tapaz, meaning fire, or from the the ancient Greek Island Topazios.
- Blue Topaz is often referred to as the clarity stone and is associated with open communication, honesty, great wisdom, and good energy.
- Did you know that Blue Zircon is rarer than a diamond, and is only deemed less valuable because of the common misconception that it’s a form of cubic zirconia?
January: Raja Garnet (natural)
- Garnet comes from the Latin granatus, meaning seed or grain. Many believe the term is a reference to the seeds of a pomegranate fruit.
- This gem is often associated with life-force, protection, and safety.
- Historical references from Western, Muslim, and Native American cultures indicate garnets were viewed as shields from evil and injury.
February: Amethyst (natural)
- Amethyst is from the Greek amethystos, roughly translated as without-intoxicate. Ancient Greeks used the gemstone to prevent drunkenness.
- Amethysts commonly symbolize tranquility and calm; it can sometimes represent royalty.
- The Smithsonian Collection of gemstones includes an amethyst that weighs an incredible 400lbs!
Spring: March, April, May
March: Aquamarine (natural)
- Aquamarine comes from the Latin aqua/water, and marine/sea, suggesting the gemstone's connection to the ocean.
- Aquamarine inspires emotional depth and healing; it has also been associated with youth and happiness.
- Shamans, healers, and mystics favored aquamarine for its ability to reveal a hidden truth and clarity.
April: Diamond (lab-grown)
- Diamond is from the Greek adamas, meaning invincible or unbreakable.
- The diamond birthstone represents, well everything! Inner strength, abundance, clarity, protection against ill-will and sickness, eternal love, marriage, beauty - you get the drift.
- Some historians believe the popularity of diamonds began in 4th century India, where they were reserved for India’s elite.
May: Emerald (lab-grown)
- The term emerald may have originated from the Sanskrit marakata, meaning the green of growing things. Scholars also posit the name is a transformation of the Greek (then Latinized) smaragdus, meaning emerald.
- The emerald’s green hue echoes an abundant ecosystem that evokes prosperity, security, and fertility.
- The Egyptian Queen Cleopatra had a passion for emeralds. She adorned herself and her palace with the lush green gem.
Summer: June, July, August
June: Alexandrite (lab-grown)
- Alexandrite was discovered in Russia's Ural Mountains in the late 1830s. The gem is named after Alexander II, the Czar of Russia from 1855-1881.
- Alexandrite is known for changing color depending on the light.
- The gemstone is thought to be a good omen and is associated with luck, fortune, and glory.
July: Ruby (lab-grown)
- Ruby comes from the Latin word for red, ruber.
- Rubies are commonly associated with love, passion, and romance.
- The deepest, richest hues of rubies are referred to as “pigeon’s blood”.
August: Peridot (natural)
- Peridot derives from the Arabic faridat, meaning gem.
- Sometimes referred to as the gem of compassion, it’s also associated with good health, tranquil sleep, and harmony of the mind/body.
- Peridot has been discovered in fallen meteorites and volcanic lava.
Fall: September, October, November
September: Sapphire (lab-grown)
- Sapphire comes from the Greek sappheiros, meaning blue gemstone.
- Sapphires come in many different shades. When used alone (ie, "sapphire", vs "pink sapphire"), the term commonly refers to blue sapphires symbolizing purity, spirituality, and a shield from the impure.
- Ancient mystics believed that sapphires held healing properties: mixing the gemstone with milk supposedly helped heal sores and boils, and sapphire elixirs were digested to calm the stomach and heal ulcers.
October: Pink Tourmaline (natural)
- Tourmaline comes from the Sri Lankan Sinhalese turamali, meaning stone of mixed color.
- Pink tourmaline is said to relieve anxiety, depression.
- The 19th century Chinese Empress Dowager, Tzu-Hsi, admired Pink Tourmaline so much, she purchased nearly all of California’s reserve. Upon her death, she was laid to rest on a pink tourmaline encrusted pillow.
November: Citrine (natural)
- Although Citrine gemstones usually display brown or reddish/orange hues, the term comes the French citron, meaning lemon.
- Citrine’s bright, warm colors suggest the warmth and energy of the sun, happiness, and joy.
- Citrine is actually a type of quartz that achieves its yellow coloring due to small amounts of iron.
These facts are just the tip of the iceberg. You could write an encyclopedia's worth of information on each of these gemstones! For more information check out these websites: