Birthstones have always been a fascinating aspect of the coloured gemstone and jewellery world. They derive from man’s early belief regarding the relationship between the time of birth to the position of the planets.
Wearing a specific gemstone for good luck or as protection against illness eventually developed into the modern birthstone system that we are familiar with today.
The modern birthstone system in the west originates from the early 1st century writings of Josephus and later of St. Jerome in the 5th century AD. Both trace the custom to the gemstones found in the Breastplate of the Hebrew High Priest. Over time the custom died out but was revived again in Poland in the 1700s.
|Month||20th & 21st Centuries||18th to 19th Centuries|
|February||Amethyst||Amethyst or hyacinth|
|March||Aquamarine or bloodstone||Jasper or bloodstone|
|April||Diamond||Diamond or sapphire|
|May||Emerald||Emerald or agate|
|June||Pearl, moonstone or alexandrite||Pearl, moonstone or alexandrite|
|July||Ruby||Turquoise or onyx|
|August||Peridot or sardonyx||Sardonyx|
|October||Opal or tourmaline||Beryl or opal|
|November||Topaz or citrine||Topaz or pearl|
|December||Tanzanite, turquoise, zircon, lapis lazuli or blue topaz||Ruby|
Before the modern 12-month calendar was invented, astrologers assigned various coloured gemstones to the 12 signs of the astral zodiac based on their symbolism and alleged metaphysical powers that each gemstone was believed to possess.
|Sign||Sign||Zodiac Stone||Sign||Sign||Zodiac Stone|
Dec. 22–Jan. 20
June 22–July 22
Jan. 21–Feb. 21
July 23–August 22
Feb. 22–March 21
August 23–Sept. 22
March 22–April 20
Sept. 23–Oct. 23
April 21–May 21
Oct. 24–Nov. 21
May 22–June 21
Nov. 22–Dec. 21
Indian Planetary Gemmology
Ancient beliefs in India regarding the planets and their relationships with various coloured gemstones is also found. This has developed into “planetary gemmology.” In such birthstone systems there are nine planets and nine different gemstones. Sometimes jewellery is made using one each of these gems. These are termed navaratnajewels (nava = nine; ratna = jewel).
|Sign||Planet||Hindu Planetary Stone||Sign||Planet||Hindu Planetary Stone|
(moon’s north node)
(moon’s south node)
A Gem for all seasons
One can also select gemstones according to the season, as listed below:
Choosing a Birthstone
There are clearly a large variety of birthstone choices, depending on religion, culture and nationality etc. But which one is right for you? We suggest that, if none of the above birthstones strikes your fancy then simply choose a personal gemstone that is special to you such as your zodiac sign.