Alternative Birthstones


alternative birthstones - pendant with multiple gems
Birthstones make popular personalized jewelry choices. For example, this pendant features the birthstones of family members. You’re not just limited to modern or traditional lists of gems, however. You can choose alternative birthstones based on astrology, hours of birth, and even seasons. “Mother’s pendant…” by gemteck1. Licensed under CC By 2.0.

Wearing your birthstone supposedly brings you luck. But what if you don’t particularly like the gemstone associated with your birth month? For those looking for alternative birthstones, options exist beyond the modern and traditional lists of gems. Choose stones associated with zodiacal signs or months symbolic of angels. You can even forgo your birth month and pick a gem associated with the day of the week or hour of your birth.

Alternative Birthstones Based on the Signs of the Zodiac

Zodiac SignGem
Aquarius (Jan.21 -Feb. 21)Garnet
Pisces (Feb.21 – Mar. 21)Amethyst
Aries (Mar.21 – Apr. 20)Bloodstone
Taurus (Apr.20 – May 21)Sapphire
Gemini (May 21 -June 21)Agate
Cancer (June 21 – July 22)Emerald
Leo (July 22 – Aug. 22)Onyx
Virgo (Aug. 22 – Sep. 22)Carnelian
Libra (Sep. 22 – Oct. 23)Chrysolite
Scorpio (Oct. 23 – Nov 21)Beryl
Sagittarius (Nov. 21 – Dec. 21)Topaz
Capricorn (Dec. 21 – Jan. 21)Ruby

In the 19th century, the term “chrysolite” referred to yellow-green chrysoberyl as well as peridot gems. However, that name is no longer used. (Chrysoberyl and peridot are distinct gem species).

Alternative Birthstones Associated with Guardian Angels

MonthGemGuardian Angel
JanuaryOnyxGabriel
FebruaryJasperBarchiel
MarchRubyMalchediel
AprilTopazAsmodel
MayCarbuncleAmbriel
JuneEmeraldMuriel
JulySapphireHerchel
AugustDiamondHumatiel
SeptemberJacinthZuriel
OctoberAgateBarbiel
NovemberAmethystAdnachiel
DecemberBerylHumiel

The ancient term carbuncle refers to any red gem. Historically, stones referred to as carbuncles were likely red garnets. Jacinth is a transparent, reddish brown zircon.

Alternative Birthstones Based on the Names of the Apostles

If you share a name with one of the twelve apostles, this list may interest you. During the Middle Ages, many scholars associated each apostle with a gemstone. (Judas was replaced by Paul, who wasn’t one of the original twelve). Not surprisingly, different writers made different connections. Below, you’ll find one such list. Note, these choices have no connection to time of birth.

ApostleGem
PeterJasper
AndrewGarnet
JohnEmerald
PhilipCarnelian
BartholomewChrysolite
ThomasBeryl
MatthewTopaz
JamesSardonyx
ThaddeusChrysoprase
SimeonJacinth
James (the Younger)Amethyst
PaulSapphire

Sardonyx is a variety of chalcedony with red and white layers.

Alternative Birthstones Based on the Hour of Birth

Birthstones Based On The Hour of Birth
1 AMSmoky Quartz1 PMZircon
2Hematite2Emerald
3Malachite3Beryl
4Lapis lazuli4Topaz
5Turquoise5Ruby
6Tourmaline6Opal
7Chrysolite7Sardonyx
8Amethyst8Chalcedony
9Kunzite9Jade
10Sapphire10Jasper
11Garnet11Lodestone
12Diamond12Onyx

Alternative Birthstones Based on the Day of the Week of Birth

In this system, each day of the week offers at least two choices.

BirthstoneDay of the WeekPhenomenal Birthstone
TopazSUNDAYSunstone
Pearl, Rock CrystalMONDAYMoonstone
Ruby, EmeraldTUESDAYStar Sapphire
Amethyst, LodestoneWEDNESDAYStar Ruby
Sapphire, CarnelianTHURSDAYCat’s eye
Emerald, Cat’s eyeFRIDAYAlexandrite
Turquoise, DiamondSATURDAYLabradorite

Rock crystal is colorless quartz.

Alternative Birthstones Based on the Season of Birth

Perfect for those who really want to pick from the “Big Four” gemstones.

SeasonBirthstone
SpringEmerald
SummerRuby
AutumnSapphire
WinterDiamond

Birthstone Advice

Feeling overwhelmed by the options? Maybe this makes it easier to understand why superstitious attachments to gems gave way to a more scientific approach. You could just appreciate gemstones for their physical and optical properties or simply their beauty. (Try this birthstone gemology quiz). However, many people still feel a strong mystical connection to gems. If you do, surely in the lists above you can find a birthstone that corresponds to you and feels right. You and your choice will likely withstand this happy little arena of birthstone madness.

alternative birthstones - museum display
“Birthstones,” displayed at the Royal Ontario Museum, by Bryce Edwards. Licensed under CC By 2.0.

About the author
Dr. Gerald Wykoff GG CSM
Dr. Gerald Wykoff is GG (Graduate Gemologist), a CSM (Certified Supreme Master gemcutter), educator, and author of several gemology books. He founded the American Society of Gemcutters in the 1980s and served for more than 10 years as the editor of its monthly magazine, American Gemcutter.
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