Summary
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.
Reading time: 4 min
sapphire - alternative birthstones

Sapphire comes in many different colors, not just classic blue, as this set of 17 oval-cut sapphires demonstrates. It’s not just the September birthstone, either. If you’re a Taurus or named Paul, or if you were born in the 10 AM hour or on Thursday, you could make sapphire one of your alternative birthstones. 7.78 ctw, Sri Lanka and Myanmar. © Rob Lavinsky, www.iRocks.com. Used with permission.

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.

birthday pendant - alternative birthstones

Birthstones make popular personalized jewelry choices. For example, this pendant features the birthstones of family members. “Mother’s pendant…,” photo by gemteck1. Licensed under CC By 2.0.

Alternative Birthstones Based on the Signs of the Zodiac

Zodiac Sign Gem
Aquarius (January 21 – February 18) Garnet
Pisces (February 19 – March 20) Amethyst
Aries (March 21 – April 20) Bloodstone
Taurus (April 21 – May 20) Sapphire
Gemini (May 21 – June 21) Agate
Cancer (June 22 – July 22) Emerald
Leo (July 23 – August 23) Onyx
Virgo (August 24 – September 22) Carnelian
Libra (September 23 – October 23) Chrysolite
Scorpio (October 24 – November 22) Beryl
Sagittarius (November 23 – December 22) Topaz
Capricorn (December 23 – January 20) Ruby

Note: the dates for the zodiac signs are tropical dates.

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

peridot

This peridot, cut from a pallasite meteorite found in Indonesia, features some needle-like inclusions — crystals trapped within the gem — that have an iridescent flash. Portuguese oval-cut, 0.29 cts, 4.7 x 3.6 mm. © The Gem Trader. Used with permission.

Alternative Birthstones Associated with Guardian Angels

Month Gem Guardian Angel
January Onyx Gabriel
February Jasper Barchiel
March Ruby Malchediel
April Topaz Asmodel
May Carbuncle Ambriel
June Emerald Muriel
July Sapphire Herchel
August Diamond Humatiel
September Jacinth Zuriel
October Agate Barbiel
November Amethyst Adnachiel
December Beryl Humiel

The ancient term carbuncle refers to any red gem. Historically, stones referred to as carbuncles were likely red garnets. Jacinth was likely either a transparent, reddish brown zircon or hessonite garnet, although the term sometimes referred to blue stones, too.

spessartite garnet - alternative birthstones

Spessartite garnet, 13.49 cts, cut by AGTA Spectrum Award-Winner Mark Kaufman. Jos, Nigeria. © Rob Lavinsky, www.iRocks.com. Used with permission.

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 date or time of birth.

Apostle Gem
Peter Jasper
Andrew Garnet
John Emerald
Philip Carnelian
Bartholomew Chrysolite
Thomas Beryl
Matthew Topaz
James Sardonyx
Thaddeus Chrysoprase
Simeon Jacinth
James (the Younger) Amethyst
Paul Sapphire

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

sardonyx key - alternative birthstones

Clock or watch key with bezel-set sardonyx cabochon. Image courtesy of liveauctioneers.com and Brunk Auctions.

Alternative Birthstones Based on Birth Hour

1 AM Smoky Quartz 1 PM Zircon
2 Hematite 2 Emerald
3 Malachite 3 Beryl
4 Lapis lazuli 4 Topaz
5 Turquoise 5 Ruby
6 Tourmaline 6 Opal
7 Chrysolite 7 Sardonyx
8 Amethyst 8 Chalcedony
9 Kunzite 9 Jade
10 Sapphire 10 Jasper
11 Garnet 11 Lodestone
12 Diamond 12 Onyx
lapis lazuli - alternative birthstones

A bracelet made from lapis lazuli beads. Jewelry and photo by Deomar Pandan, KamayoJewelry.com. Licensed under CC By-SA 4.0.

Alternative Birthstones Based on the Day of the Week of Birth

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

Birthstone Day of the Week Phenomenal Birthstone
Topaz Sunday Sunstone
Pearl, Rock Crystal Monday Moonstone
Ruby, Emerald Tuesday Star Sapphire
Amethyst, Lodestone Wednesday Star Ruby
Sapphire, Carnelian Thursday Cat’s eye
Emerald, Cat’s eye Friday Alexandrite
Turquoise, Diamond Saturday Labradorite

Rock crystal is colorless quartz.

Cat's eye ring

14k yellow gold cat’s eye men’s ring with pavé set diamonds. Cabochon-cut chrysoberyl, 8.78 cts. Photo courtesy of liveauctioneers.com and Golden State Auction Gallery, Inc.

Birthstones Based on Seasons

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

Season Birthstone
Spring Emerald
Summer Ruby
Autumn Sapphire
Winter Diamond
emerald

Round brilliant emerald, 6.20 cts, 1.2 x 1.1 x 0.8 cm, near Kenticha, Oromia, Ethiopia. © Rob Lavinsky, www.iRocks.com. Used with permission.

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.

museum display - birthstone gems

Birthstones on display at the Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto, Canada. Photo by Bryce Edwards. Licensed under CC By 2.0.