Articles / What's Your Birthstone?

The tradition of birthstone gems is as old as civilization itself. Ancient Roman, Arabic and Indian cultures all revered gems and linked specific gems with either the months of the year or the zodiac. The first reference to birthstone gems in Western writings is in the Book of Exodus in the Old Testament. Moses' brother Aaron, a high priest in the Jewish religion, is described as wearing a ceremonial breastplate adorned with 12 different gemstones mounted in elaborate gold settings, which historians say represented the 12 tribes of Israel, the 12 signs of the zodiac and the 12 months of the year.


Derived from the Latin word "granatus," garnet crystals were the color and shape of pomegranate seeds. They are found in all colors except blue, with green garnets known as Tsavorite. It was believed that garnets kept travelers healthy and protected.


A purple quartz crystal steeped in ancient lore, mysticism and age-old magic, amethyst is said to bring good luck and radiate love. Prized by ancient royalty for its regal color, legend has it that the amethyst originated from Bacchus, the god of wine.


Aquamarine belongs to the beryl family of gemstones and embodies the beauty of the seas. Aquamarine was believed to bring its wearers knowledge, foresight and inspiration, and was said to be the stone of the sea goddesses.


The most brilliant of all gemstones, diamonds are spiritual, magical and the hardest known substance. Cherished for more than 6,000 years, diamonds were thought to be pieces of stars that had fallen to Earth.


This stone has long been regarded as a symbol of fertility, rebirth and springtime. The most prized varieties are the color of green grass. In ancient Rome, emeralds were valued for their protective qualities and calming effects.


Known as the "Queen of Gems," these beautiful jewels of the sea are indigenous to Japan and China, where oysters produce tiny miracles in colors ranging from creamy white to jet-black. Pearls are versatile: casual for day, elegant for night. Alternate stone is moonstone.


A prized possession of kings and queens throughout the ages, rubies are a symbol of love and immortality. Bright red in color, rubies were often set in engagement rings instead of diamonds.


Romans called peridot "olivine," describing the dark olive green tones of Italian peridot. American peridot is a vibrant yellow-green. Mystics believed this lustrous stone had miraculous healing properties and could drive away evil spirits.


Derived from the Latin word for blue, "sapphires," sapphires were believed to be the guardians of love. Ancient Persians believed the Earth rested on an enormous blue sapphire, and its reflection caused the blueness of the sky.


Latin for "precious stone," Opals are made of silica jell, with layers added over millions of years. The opal's dazzling characteristic is an iridescent property that creates its "fiery" color. Romans believed opals were the symbol of hope and purity. Alternate stone is tourmaline.


Yellow Topaz
The word topaz means fire, an appropriate appellation for the brilliant orange-red varieties of this gem. A symbol of friendship, this golden gem was known to calm anger and guard against envy. Alternate stone is citrine.


The vibrant violet-blue gem was recently awarded the honor of being added to the traditional list of birthstones. Tanzanite was discovered near Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania in the mid-1960s. Alternate stones are blue topaz, blue zircon and turquoise.

David WeissDavid Weiss

Graduate Gemologist, GIA
Certified Appraiser