Modern vs. Traditional

The list of traditional or ancient birthstones most well-known in the United States actually originated in Poland between the 16th and 18th centuries. In 1912, the National Association of Jewelers released a list of so-called “modern birthstones.” The modern list differed somewhat from the traditional, most notably by including only transparent gems. Presumably, this made it easier for jewelers to create “mother’s rings,” which feature the birthstones of a woman’s children, in a manner more suited to modern tastes. (Imagine trying to create a ring with a pearl, a turquoise cabochon, and a diamond and emerald, both faceted).

To this day, jewelers continue to add options to the modern birthstone chart. For example, spinel, citrine, and tanzanite are recent moder additions.

In the United States today, people draw freely from both lists and pick the stones that appeal to them. Some traditional gems are also less expensive (like turquoise) or more readily available (like cultivated pearls) than their modern counterparts. Thus, some traditional stones remain popular.

Birthstone Jewelry

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Modern Traditional
Jan
Garnet image
Garnet
Feb
Amethyst image
Amethyst
Mar
Bloodstone image
Bloodstone
Apr
Diamond image
Diamond
Diamond image
Diamond
May
Emerald image
Emerald
Emerald image
Emerald
Jun
Pearl image
Pearl
Jul
Ruby image
Ruby
Aug
Spinel image
Spinel
Sardonyx image
Sardonyx
Sep
Sapphire image
Sapphire
Oct
Tourmaline image
Tourmaline
Nov
Golden Topaz image
Golden Topaz
Citrine image
Citrine
Topaz image
Topaz
Dec
Blue Zircon image
Blue Zircon
Blue Topaz image
Blue Topaz
Tanzanite image
Tanzanite
Turquoise image
Turquoise
Lapis Lazuli image
Lapis Lazuli
jan

January

Garnet

Although garnet is commonly associated with the color red, these gemstones can be found in almost any color and are popular choices for jewelry of all types. That’s excellent news if you’re in the market for the January birthstone. The garnet family is one of the most complex in the gem world. It’s not a single species but rather consists of several species and varieties.

Symbolism

Some believe that garnets are a protective stone, shielding the wearer from injury. This made them particularly popular amongst warriors and royalty. Occasionally associated with life-giving blood, red-variety garnets are also connected to vitality, love, and light.

Color

Depending on the type of garnet, you can choose from red, purplish, green, yellow, and orange options. It is not uncommon to find large garnet crystals with vibrant hues and clear transparency.

Some believe that garnets are a protective stone, shielding the wearer from injury. This made them particularly popular amongst warriors and royalty. Occasionally associated with life-giving blood, red-variety garnets are also connected to vitality, love, and light.

Depending on the type of garnet, you can choose from red, purplish, green, yellow, and orange options. It is not uncommon to find large garnet crystals with vibrant hues and clear transparency.

feb

February

Amethyst

Amethyst is crystalline quartz in colors ranging from pale lilac to deep reddish purple. It has a relatively high hardness of 7, which means it’s very scratch resistant. The February birthstone makes a fine gem for any kind of jewelry.

Symbolism

As the color purple has long been connected with royalty, amethysts were favored by the ruling class. Over time, amethysts have also come to be associated with spirituality, mental clarity, and healing.

Color

Specifically a purple variety of quartz whose saturation may range from pale to vibrant. Generally speaking, vivid stones are more highly sought-after and valuable than paler ones.

As the color purple has long been connected with royalty, amethysts were favored by the ruling class. Over time, amethysts have also come to be associated with spirituality, mental clarity, and healing.

Specifically a purple variety of quartz whose saturation may range from pale to vibrant. Generally speaking, vivid stones are more highly sought-after and valuable than paler ones.

mar

March

Aquamarine

Named after the color of seawater, aquamarine is the blue to blue-green member of the beryl family. Readily available and moderately priced, the March birthstone makes an excellent jewelry stone.

Symbolism

The name “aquamarine” comes from the Latin for “seawater” and the stones were thought to protect seafarers. Some associate aquamarines with marital happiness and superior intellect.

Color

These stones can be found in both blue and blue/green hues. Aquamarine stones will always have light color saturation and tone so you will not see any dark blues or greens.

The name “aquamarine” comes from the Latin for “seawater” and the stones were thought to protect seafarers. Some associate aquamarines with marital happiness and superior intellect.

These stones can be found in both blue and blue/green hues. Aquamarine stones will always have light color saturation and tone so you will not see any dark blues or greens.

apr

April

Diamond

Diamond is the most popular ring stone choice in the world. These gems are prized for their classic beauty and clarity, and diamond jewelry has become a status symbol.

Symbolism

Due to their extreme hardness, overall durability, and undeniable beauty, diamonds are associated with strength and eternal love. It is no wonder that they are commonly used in both engagement and wedding ring designs.

Color

While the vast majority of diamonds are colorless, they may express a full rainbow of fancy colors. From rare reds to deep blues to warm yellows, there is a fancy colored diamond for all preferences and occasions.

Due to their extreme hardness, overall durability, and undeniable beauty, diamonds are associated with strength and eternal love. It is no wonder that they are commonly used in both engagement and wedding ring designs.

While the vast majority of diamonds are colorless, they may express a full rainbow of fancy colors. From rare reds to deep blues to warm yellows, there is a fancy colored diamond for all preferences and occasions.

may

May

Emerald

Emerald has been synonymous with the color green since ancient times. A fine emerald is a truly breathtaking sight, and this member of the beryl family deserves its placement among the traditional “Big Four” gems, along with diamond, ruby, and sapphire.

Symbolism

Legand has it that wearing emeralds will imbue the wearer with heightened intelligence and allow them to think objectively. Others use the stone to promote healing. It has even been claimed that emeralds allow the wearer to predict the future.

Color

The best emeralds express an even, deep green. Some may have blue undertones. Emeralds are known to commonly include eye-visible inclusions. Generally speaking, the fewer the inclusions, the higher the value of the stone.

Legand has it that wearing emeralds will imbue the wearer with heightened intelligence and allow them to think objectively. Others use the stone to promote healing. It has even been claimed that emeralds allow the wearer to predict the future.

The best emeralds express an even, deep green. Some may have blue undertones. Emeralds are known to commonly include eye-visible inclusions. Generally speaking, the fewer the inclusions, the higher the value of the stone.

jun

June

Pearl

Alexandrite

Pearls are the only gems found within living creatures, both salt and freshwater mollusks. However, most pearls on the market today are cultivated or cultured, since they now occur extremely rarely in nature. While pearls require special care, they have an enduring appeal for jewelry, particularly as the traditional June birthstone.

Symbolism

The finest pearls display unblemished surfaces with even coloring. Thus, there is a natural association with qualities like honesty, purity, and wisdom. Some cultures associate pearls with the divine, believing that pearls were tears shed from heaven, while others placed pearls in the graves of their loved ones. Ancient Chinese lore claims that pearls represent wisdom and power and are carried by dragons.

Color

While most still think of pearls as white, they are now available in a range of colors including black, green, gold, silver, and various pastels depending on where they were farmed.

The finest pearls display unblemished surfaces with even coloring. Thus, there is a natural association with qualities like honesty, purity, and wisdom. Some cultures associate pearls with the divine, believing that pearls were tears shed from heaven, while others placed pearls in the graves of their loved ones. Ancient Chinese lore claims that pearls represent wisdom and power and are carried by dragons.

While most still think of pearls as white, they are now available in a range of colors including black, green, gold, silver, and various pastels depending on where they were farmed.

“Emerald by day, ruby by night,” alexandrite is well-known for displaying one of the most remarkable color changes in the gem world — green in sunlight and red in incandescent light. However, this modern June birthstone is so rare and expensive few people have even seen a natural alexandrite.

Symbolism

Alexandrite was first discovered in Russia in the early nineteenth century, and quickly became a favorite of Russian royalty. It was named after the reigning Czar Alexander II. Alexandrite is worn to enhance the intellect and invite good luck.

Color

When exposed to sunlight, high-quality alexandrite will take on a bluish-green color reminiscent of emeralds. At night, under incandescent lighting conditions, the gemstone will, instead, appear a purplish-red color akin to rubies. High-quality stones display clear and distinct color changes while the color of lower-quality stones may appear to have a mixed/muddied appearance.

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Alexandrite was first discovered in Russia in the early nineteenth century, and quickly became a favorite of Russian royalty. It was named after the reigning Czar Alexander II. Alexandrite is worn to enhance the intellect and invite good luck.

When exposed to sunlight, high-quality alexandrite will take on a bluish-green color reminiscent of emeralds. At night, under incandescent lighting conditions, the gemstone will, instead, appear a purplish-red color akin to rubies. High-quality stones display clear and distinct color changes while the color of lower-quality stones may appear to have a mixed/muddied appearance.

jul

July

Ruby

One of the most popular traditional jewelry stones, ruby is exceptionally durable. Its colors — always red — can reach vivid levels of saturation. Fine-quality rubies are some of the most expensive gemstones, with record prices over $1,000,000 per carat.

Symbolism

Rubies have long been connected with physicality and strength. Favored by warriors, rubies were thought to be intimately connected with the human body. They were credited with increasing the strength and stamina of the wearer. Rubies were also thought to calm anger and help the wearer navigate passionate social situations.

Color

Rubies are a radiant red gemstone. Technically speaking, rubies are actually sapphires that have a dominant red hue. Because they are part of a larger color spectrum, you will find stones that include orange or pink overtones.

Rubies have long been connected with physicality and strength. Favored by warriors, rubies were thought to be intimately connected with the human body. They were credited with increasing the strength and stamina of the wearer. Rubies were also thought to calm anger and help the wearer navigate passionate social situations.

Rubies are a radiant red gemstone. Technically speaking, rubies are actually sapphires that have a dominant red hue. Because they are part of a larger color spectrum, you will find stones that include orange or pink overtones.

aug

August

Peridot

The modern August birthstone, peridot has been prized as a jewelry stone since ancient times. Always green in color but with considerable variations, a peridot’s particular shade depends on its source.

Symbolism

Peridots have been credited with protecting their wearer during the night. This is due to the fact that the lively appearance of peridot fostered ancient associations between the gemstone and the sun. It was thought that keeping the stone close during dark hours repelled nighttime evil spirits.

Color

The green hue of some peridot may overlap with the green color displayed by emeralds. However, peridot often features a unique yellowish overtone not observed in emeralds. Some stones have a brownish appearance.

Peridots have been credited with protecting their wearer during the night. This is due to the fact that the lively appearance of peridot fostered ancient associations between the gemstone and the sun. It was thought that keeping the stone close during dark hours repelled nighttime evil spirits.

The green hue of some peridot may overlap with the green color displayed by emeralds. However, peridot often features a unique yellowish overtone not observed in emeralds. Some stones have a brownish appearance.

sep

September

Sapphire

Few gems have held our attention over millennia as well as sapphire. Its pure blue colors and excellent durability make it an exceptional gemstone. However, not all sapphires are blue. The September birthstone comes in many colors.

Symbolism

Sapphires are considered a protective gemstone. They may shield the wearer from physical harm as well as bad intentions and envy. Further, it was thought that sapphires had medicinal properties. Blue sapphires are considered a highly spiritual stone worn by priests. Lastly, sapphires are among the only gemstones that can exhibit natural asterism in the form of a six-rayed star.

Color

Sapphire occurs naturally in a full rainbow of colors. Just remember that, as mentioned above, red sapphires are classified as ruby so, technically, that color is exempt. Sapphires will be marketed according to their color, i.e., yellow sapphire or purple sapphire. However, the word “sapphire” on its own refers specifically to the blue variety.

Sapphires are considered a protective gemstone. They may shield the wearer from physical harm as well as bad intentions and envy. Further, it was thought that sapphires had medicinal properties. Blue sapphires are considered a highly spiritual stone worn by priests. Lastly, sapphires are among the only gemstones that can exhibit natural asterism in the form of a six-rayed star.

Sapphire occurs naturally in a full rainbow of colors. Just remember that, as mentioned above, red sapphires are classified as ruby so, technically, that color is exempt. Sapphires will be marketed according to their color, i.e., yellow sapphire or purple sapphire. However, the word “sapphire” on its own refers specifically to the blue variety.

oct

October

Opal

Tourmaline

Opals are in a class by themselves. As a species, opal is so unique its patterns have their own descriptive vocabulary. More than any other gem, each opal is distinctly individual. Opals are also the most delicate gemstones commonly worn and require special care.

Symbolism

Perhaps due to their dynamic appearance, opals are associated with light and magic. As such, some credited opals with healing properties specifically regarding the eyes. Some believed that opals could even make the wearer invisible. While some cling to negative superstitions about opals, others wear them for good luck.

Color

Play-of-color in opals is commonly restricted to blue, green, and red/orange speckles against a base color of white, grey, or black. Fire opals have a yellow, orange, or red body color and may or may not display a play of colors.

Perhaps due to their dynamic appearance, opals are associated with light and magic. As such, some credited opals with healing properties specifically regarding the eyes. Some believed that opals could even make the wearer invisible. While some cling to negative superstitions about opals, others wear them for good luck.

Play-of-color in opals is commonly restricted to blue, green, and red/orange speckles against a base color of white, grey, or black. Fire opals have a yellow, orange, or red body color and may or may not display a play of colors.

No other gem comes in as many colors, including multi-colors, as tourmaline, the modern October birthstone. Some of these color combinations are incredible.

Symbolism

Mined from all over the Earth, tourmalines enjoy global popularity. Thought to have both healing properties and reduce stress, tourmalines are often used to embolden the wearer. Moreover, tourmalines have been credited with bolstering creativity and have been favored by artists and writers. Still, others wear them to soothe a broken heart.

Color

Tourmalines occur naturally in a range of colors including purple, orange, yellow, and black. High-quality examples of some of the various colors have individual “trade names”. Red tourmaline is termed “rubellite”. Blues are “indicolite”. Strong, neon-blue stones originating from Brazil are “paraiba”. Additionally, unlike most of the other birthstones, tourmalines may express zones of different colors in single crystals such as red adjacent to green or blue.

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Mined from all over the Earth, tourmalines enjoy global popularity. Thought to have both healing properties and reduce stress, tourmalines are often used to embolden the wearer. Moreover, tourmalines have been credited with bolstering creativity and have been favored by artists and writers. Still, others wear them to soothe a broken heart.

Tourmalines occur naturally in a range of colors including purple, orange, yellow, and black. High-quality examples of some of the various colors have individual “trade names”. Red tourmaline is termed “rubellite”. Blues are “indicolite”. Strong, neon-blue stones originating from Brazil are “paraiba”. Additionally, unlike most of the other birthstones, tourmalines may express zones of different colors in single crystals such as red adjacent to green or blue.

nov

November

Citrine

Citrine is the yellow to red-orange variety of crystalline quartz. Clever marketing and the rise of “earth tone” fashions have made this durable and readily available gem a popular modern birthstone in recent years.

Symbolism

A cousin of amethyst, citrine is also part of the quartz family. Citrine is predominantly associated with healing and happiness. Whether you are experiencing pain such as a stomachache, are plagued by sleeping issues, or are feeling distressed in general, citrines are thought to bring relief.

Color

Citrine stones are famous for their warm orange and yellow hues, perhaps with some hints of brown and potentially large sizes. A notable proportion of citrines on the market come out of the ground as unimpressive amethysts or smokey quartzes. These stones are subsequently heated to enhance the yellow and orange colors.

A cousin of amethyst, citrine is also part of the quartz family. Citrine is predominantly associated with healing and happiness. Whether you are experiencing pain such as a stomachache, are plagued by sleeping issues, or are feeling distressed in general, citrines are thought to bring relief.

Citrine stones are famous for their warm orange and yellow hues, perhaps with some hints of brown and potentially large sizes. A notable proportion of citrines on the market come out of the ground as unimpressive amethysts or smokey quartzes. These stones are subsequently heated to enhance the yellow and orange colors.

dec

December

Blue Topaz

Tanzanite

Blue Zircon

Most blue topazes come out of the earth colorless or pale blue. A two-step heat and radiation laboratory treatment is then used to turn these stones vivid greenish blue. Blue topazes are not only beautiful but inexpensive.

Symbolism

Through the ages, topaz has been popularly associated with wealth. This is likely due to its more common yellow color which led some to believe that topaz had the mystical ability to attract gold.

Color

Blue topaz are refered to by trade names such as “London Blue,” “Swiss Blue,” and “Sky Blue.” London Blues have a dark steel blue or grayish blue color. Swiss Blues show a highly saturated greenish blue. Sky Blues show pale blue colors and may somewhat resemble aquamarines in hue and tone.

Through the ages, topaz has been popularly associated with wealth. This is likely due to its more common yellow color which led some to believe that topaz had the mystical ability to attract gold.

Blue topaz are refered to by trade names such as “London Blue,” “Swiss Blue,” and “Sky Blue.” London Blues have a dark steel blue or grayish blue color. Swiss Blues show a highly saturated greenish blue. Sky Blues show pale blue colors and may somewhat resemble aquamarines in hue and tone.

Found in Tanzania, this stone is foundin intense blue and violet hues, the result of heat treatment. It can mimic fine sapphire at a fraction of the price. However, tanzanite is more fragile and requires a good, protective setting.

Symbolism

Tanzanite is believed by some to facilitate a higher consciousness, intuition and perception. It’s blue color is also thought to bring calmness to the wearer.

Color

Tanzanite comes in popular intense blue and violet hues, thanks to heat treatments. It can exhibit slight color shift depending on the light source.

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Tanzanite is believed by some to facilitate a higher consciousness, intuition and perception. It’s blue color is also thought to bring calmness to the wearer.

Tanzanite comes in popular intense blue and violet hues, thanks to heat treatments. It can exhibit slight color shift depending on the light source.

Don’t be confused by the name. Zircon is a natural, magnificent, and underrated gemstone that has been worn and treasured since ancient times. It’s not cubic zirconia. Zircons come in many colors, but blue is the most highly prized. Blue zircon has become a modern December birthstone.

Symbolism

Due to the fact that blue colors are generally considered a soothing and spiritual color, it comes as no surprise that blue zircons are associated with serenity and purity.

Color

Blue zircon displays a light yet saturated blue color. Most blue zircon has been exposed to heat treatment to maximize its appearance.

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Due to the fact that blue colors are generally considered a soothing and spiritual color, it comes as no surprise that blue zircons are associated with serenity and purity.

Blue zircon displays a light yet saturated blue color. Most blue zircon has been exposed to heat treatment to maximize its appearance.

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