How Well Do You Know Your Birthstone Gemology?


sardonyx - birthstone gemology
The traditional or ancient birthstone for August, sardonyx is red and white layered onyx, a variety of chalcedony, itself a variety of quartz. “Gem with Intaglio with Bellerophon and Pegasos,” sardonyx and gold, early 1st century CE, Roman Empire, from the collection of the Walters Art Museum. Licensed under CC By-SA 3.0.

You might be familiar with the romance of birthstones, but how well do you know birthstone gemology? Take our short quiz and learn about the composition, cutting, and value of birthstones.

What is My Birthstone?

Throughout history, people have given poetic meanings to different gemstones. Nowadays, our use of birthstones is probably the best-known example of this practice. Each month has a special stone assigned to it. For those born in a particular month, that month’s gem purportedly acts as a “good luck” charm. Of course, birthstones and their meanings vary across cultures. Below you’ll find a list of birthstones commonly used in English speaking countries.

MONTH

MODERN

ANCIENT

January Garnet Garnet
February Amethyst Amethyst
March Aquamarine Bloodstone
April Diamond Diamond
May Emerald Emerald
June Alexandrite Pearl
July Ruby Ruby
August Peridot Sardonyx
September Sapphire Sapphire
October Rose Zircon Tourmaline or Opal
November Golden Topaz or Citrine Topaz
December Blue Zircon or Tanzanite Turquoise or Lapis

The “modern” list was created in the early 20th century. However, it never really replaced the “ancient” or traditional list. It became more of a supplement. Today, people freely choose between modern and ancient options. In addition to these, some people consult alternative birthstone lists, including lists based on astrological signs and birth hour.

moonstone - birthstone jewelry
In Germany and Scandinavian countries, gem enthusiasts prefer moonstone as the June birthstone. “Moonstone” by Gaia Metal Studio. Licensed under CC By-ND 2.0.

Birthstone Gemology Quiz

Which birthstones are minerals?

“Answer”

Which birthstones are usually cut as cabochons?

“Answer”

Which birthstones are the most valuable?

“Answer”
emerald - birthstone gemology
“Emerald Bracelet – 41” by Mauro Cateb. Licensed under CC By 2.0.

About the author
Donald Clark, CSM IMG
Donald Clark, CSM founded the International Gem Society in 1998. Donald started in the gem and jewelry industry in 1976. He received his formal gemology training from the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) and the American Society of Gemcutters (ASG). The letters "CSM" after his name stood for Certified Supreme Master Gemcutter, a designation of Wykoff's ASG which has often been referred to as the doctorate of gem cutting. The American Society of Gemcutters only had 54 people reach this level. Along with dozens of articles for leading trade magazines, Donald authored the book "Modern Faceting, the Easy Way."
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