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Birthstone jewellery 2022- what is your birthstone

Find out your stone and its meaning and why it's related to your birth date

Just as we have star signs assigned to the time and date of our birth, we also have birthstones to represent the month in which we were born. These are specific gemstones which have long been thought to bring good luck or health; and have been attributed with supernatural powers by astrologers. There are 12 stones, of course, and one ascribed to each month – and typically worn as jewellery make for great birthday gifts: as rings and pendants that feature the corresponding stone.

The history of birthstones brings an interesting mix of reference points: Britannica explains a loose relationship with ancient beliefs, noting how the list of months and their corresponding stones is more to do with availability of the mineral at the time, and cost. For example, before mineralogy had got to grips with the chemical analysis part of the category, it was colour that was deemed of particular significance – even over other physical characteristics that we might now think more important. There was little distinction, the encyclopedia explains, might have then been made between an emerald and, say, a chrysoprase – which is apple green and contains small amounts of nickel. Equally a ruby and garnet or a citrine and topaz might be thought of as one and the same.

It was the look of the stone that was thought to be key in whether it could heal and bring good luck and therefore stone look-alikes were thought to be equally effective – though the same view it should be noted is not necessarily held of cubic zirconia today!

Similarly, the names of the stones then may not have been the same as the names we know the stones by now. A sapphire mentioned in the Bible, it’s thought, might actually be a lapis lazuli – which is a semi-precious stone, known for its intense blue colour.

In a science article on birthstones in Forbes a couple of years ago, the author Trevor Nace, spoke about their appearance in the Bible. The book of Exodus talks of a breastplate of Aaron which was inlaid with 12 gemstones, each of them representative of the 12 tribes of Israel. The breastplate was adorned with: emerald, sapphire, diamond, topaz, carbuncle, sardius, agate, ligure, amethyst, onyx, jasper and beryl. The stones were thought to hold great power and reveal people’s fate.

It would be in the 1st and 5th century AD that two scholars – Flavius Josephus and St. Jerome, were credited with associating the 12 gems with the signs of the zodiac. Supposedly, the idea was the gems could be worn by everyone, but were worn per a corresponding month – rather like wearing a certain pair of socks on a certain day of the week. So the story goes, the stones would be worn on belts and bracelets and other extravagant ornaments during the 8th and 9th centuries: a specific stone would have heightened powers during its attributed month.

But – depending on who you read – it would be in the 16th or 18th century before the tradition of wearing a stone according to your designated birth month began. It is the later date in which it is thought gem traders marketed the selling of each gemstone based on the month you were born. And it was a marketing marvel! By 1912, the practice was taken on by the National Association of Jewelers, therefore solidifying a modern trend we still continue today (I still remember receiving a ruby ring for my birthday, July, from Argos!).

There are also findings among Hindu traditions where stones represent your birth month. Hindu text from the 5th century, the Ratna Pariksha, talks of the relationship between gemstones and days of the week. Nine gemstones are associated with celestial forces, which is called navaratna in Sanskrit. Pieces are believed to grant the wearer harmony and stand for a symbol of wealth and status. Individual stones are recommended by Vedic, or Hindu, astrologers based on astrological birth charts.

The list of birthstones – more of which to come – was modified in 1952 (from 1912) by the Jewelry Industry Council of America. Notably, one of the primary functions seems to have been to ensure quality of stone to sell for each month, once again a clever marketing ploy! We enjoy wearing them nonetheless.

Most birthstones are technically classified as minerals – though a pearl is not classified as a mineral as it is inorganic – because it grows inside a mollusk and, similarly, an opal can also be inorganic.

Find out which birthstone you are below and what it means –

Le Monde Beryl pearl and garnet ear cuff

JANUARY / GARNET
Garnet is assigned to January and can be recognised for its deep red colour (though can actually be found in many other colours including orange, yellow and violet). Thought to hold protective properties, it also boasts regenerative powers. The name “garnet” comes from the Latin word “granatus”, which means grain or seed. And plays a significant role in history: adorning Pharaohs, traded by Romans and referenced in the Book of Exodus, Shakespeare and Paradise Lost. During the medieval period, garnets were referred to as “carbuncles” which was a term that referred to any shade of red stone.

 

Tasaki Atelier Akoya pearl white, diamond, amethyst, yellow quartz, blue topaz, citrine

FEBRUARY / AMETHYST
Thought to have magical and protective powers, the amethyst as a purple gemstone assigned to those who were born in February. It has been worn by kings and queens throughout the centuries as a symbol of power and status; while the Ancient Greeks apparently carved amethyst goblets to ward off hangovers. Further, its very name comes from the Ancient Greek for “not intoxicated” – which is amethustos. And Leonardo da Vinci claimed it helped the mind – ridding it of evil thoughts and keeping it on its toes.

Jacquie Aiche pave aquamarine rounded-square centre beaded necklace

MARCH / AQUAMARINE
Noted for its tranquil nature, aquamarine – as its name might suggest – has roots with water. It comes from the Latin for “seawater” and sailors were thought to protect themselves with aquamarine talismans when on long voyages to bring a sense of calm. They can range in colour: ice blue to deep blue. And instil a sense of hope and happiness. Among famous aquamarine pieces include Princess Diana’s famously Asprey ring.

Thelma West Rebel Rose rose gold and pear-cut diamond ring

APRIL / DIAMOND
Surely one of the most coveted of gemstones is the diamond – because it’s a diamond! A symbol of everlasting love, it is also the hardest substance on earth and it’s perhaps on surprise, therefore, to hear that the Greek word adamas, from which the word hails, means “invincible”. Found in shades from yellow to pink and blue, diamonds are the only gemstone to be made up from one single element, pure carbon. And they have long been a badge of power, glamour and wealth ever since they were first traded in India, thought to be around 400BC. Notably, they have long been worn by Royals.

Mateo New York 14kt yellow gold emerald and diamond ring

MAY / EMERALD
Emeralds are thought to hold serious healing power and have been a favourite of the Egyptians. Alongside rubies and sapphires, it is one of the “big three” stones, boasting its own style of cut. A favourite of Royals and celebrities alike, they have been connected to fertility, growth and peace over the years, their intense colour highly captivating.

Chanel Comete perlee ear cuff white gold and diamond pearl

JUNE / PEARL
The only gemstone to be produced by a living creature, the pearl is linked to a sense of calm and wisdom, as well as power, purity of heart and fidelity. Besides kings and queens, they have been firm favourite with First Ladies over the years including the ever-stylish Jacqueline Kennedy. Their appeal lies in their ability to make one look polished, feel classic.

Jessica McCormack Gypset hoop earrings

JULY / RUBY
Thought to take its name from the Sanskrit word for Ratnaraj, meaning “King of precious stones”, rubies are renowned for their vivid colour – which can run from scarlet and claret to orangey tones. Thought to be a charm and protective talisman, it also channels passion and prosperity.

AUGUST / PERIDOT
Peridot, a bright green hue – in contrast to the deep, dark green of an emerald – is a gemstone formed in the extreme heat of the Earth’s mantle, delivered to the surface through volcanic movement – and often found, therefore, in cooled lava flows. Hawaiian lore proffers they are the tears, hardened, of Pepe, the goddess of fire and lightning. Meanwhile, Egyptians believed it to be the “gem of the sun”- protecting against evil spirits and creating a sense of positivity. Others think it is a symbol of luck.

Sapphire forget-me-not pendant Hirsh London

SEPTEMBER / SAPPHIRE
Grace, truth and protection are among the properties held by sapphires, which take their name from the Greek sappheiros – which translates as “blue stone”. They play a substantial role in history – especially among Royal collections, including the British with highlights including the engagement ring given to the Duchess of Cambridge, which originally belonged to Princess Diana.

Mother Earth opal sapphire emerald pendant Hirsh London

OCTOBER / OPAL
Opal is one of two birthstones linked to October. A symbol of hope and truth, it is recognised by its iridescent but milky glow, shade-shifting. Microscopic spheres of silica in its composition create this look, which has been noted as far back as the Roman times. Tourmaline, a stone of mixed colours – tourmaline is the Sinhalese word – is October’s second birthstone. Found across the globe, especially in Brazil, it also comes in an array of shades.

Fenton cocktail ring collection, The Hanna London blue topaz round-cut 18kt white-gold

NOVEMBER / TOPAZ, CITRINE
Just like October, there are two stones linked to November, Topaz and Citrine. The former is thought to promote calmness and a sense of balance, while citrine encourages joy and success. In its natural state, topaz is a golden brown or yellow, as is citrine.

Harry Winston turquoise watch

DECEMBER / TURQUOISE, TANZANITE, ZIRCON
Three stones are linked with December, though the more familiar of them all is likely turquoise. It has long been associated with healing and good luck and is recognised by its blue-green shade. Tanzanite and Zircon boast acceleration and prosperity, respectively.

Aries star sign dates: March 21 – April 19
Taurus star sign dates: April 20 – May 20
Gemini star sign dates: May 21 – June 20
Cancer star sign dates: June 21 – July 22
Leo star sign dates: July 23 – August 22
Virgo star sign dates: August 23 – September 22
Libra star sign dates: September 23 – October 22
Scorpio star sign dates: October 23 – November 21
Sagittarius star sign dates: November 22 – December 21
Capricorn star sign dates: December 22 – January 19
Aquarius star sign dates: January 20 – February 18
Pisces star sign dates: February 19 – March 20

See the best zodiac jewellery 

See the best January birthstones

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