Alternative Birthstones


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 33 sec
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 (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 and prehnite gems. However, that name is no longer used. (Chrysoberyl, peridot, and prehnite are all distinct gem species).

peridot - alternative birthstones
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 either a transparent, reddish brown zircon or hessonite garnet.

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 the Hour of Birth

Birthstones Based On The Hour of Birth
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 - alternative birthstones
14k yellow gold cat’s eye men’s ring with pavé set diamonds. Cabochon-cut chrysoberyl, 8.78 cts. Image courtesy of liveauctioneers.com and Golden State Auction Gallery, Inc.

Alternative Birthstones Based on the Season of Birth

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

Season Birthstone
Spring Emerald
Summer Ruby
Autumn Sapphire
Winter Diamond
emerald - alternative birthstones
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.

alternative birthstones - museum display
Birthstones on display at the Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto, Canada. Photo 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.
All articles by this author