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What is a birthstone?

Confetti birthstone pendants We have often been asked, “what is a birthstone?”  So we thought we’d have a little look into it!

Each month has had a precious or semi-precious gem allocated to it, which is considered our birthstone, but this is a relatively modern practice.

The notion of ‘birthstones’ actually ties back to the time when astronomy and astrology had significant cross-over and the regular patterns made by the stars in the skies were set into zodiac calendars.  Astrologers linked particular gemstones to the key personality traits exhibited by people born within each zodiac calendar month.

From ancient times gemstones have been assumed to have mystical properties – the Greeks believed that wearing amethyst would prevent you from getting drunk for example and aquamarine would protect you from accidents at sea.  Emeralds are associated with love and fertility and rubies offered power and protection from threat.  People would wear gems (if they could afford to do do) that bolstered their personal need for support from a higher power.

In 1912, in an effort to standardise birthstones, the American National Association of Jewelers established a list to be used by all jewellers.  This was updated in 1952 and again in 2002 and 2016.  In the UK, the National Association of Goldsmiths created their own list of birthstones in 1937 and updated it in 2013.

As you can see, there is considerable cross-over with the ancient Zodiac birthstone list.

Zodiac sign Dates Gemstone Birth Month UK List 2013
Aries March 21 – April 19 Diamond April DiamondRock Crystal
Taurus April 20 – May 20 Emerald May EmeraldChrysophase
Gemini May 21 – June 21 Pearl June PearlMoonstone
Cancer June 22 – July 22 Ruby July RubyCarnelian
Leo July 23 –August 22 Peridot August PeridotSardonyx
Virgo August 23 – September 22 Sapphire September SapphireLapis Lazuli
Libra September 23 – October 22 Opal October Opal
Scorpio October 23 – November 21 Topaz November TopazCitrine
Sagittarius November 22 – December 21 Turquoise December TurquoiseTanzanite
Capricorn December 22 – January 19 Garnet January Garnet
Aquarius January 20 – February 18 Amethyst February Amethyst
Pisces February 19 – March 20 Aquamarine March AquamarineBloodstone

If you are believer in astrology then you might be a little alarmed if you’ve given gifted a birthstone for your month, rather than your zodiac sign – Aries of course completes its cycle on 19 April, meaning those born towards the end of the month might prefer an emerald.  Never fear, we’ve looked into this and are reliably informed you needn’t fret!

Experts say that even though wearing your own zodiac birthstone imbues you with the best energy for your personal potential, the birthstone attributed to the zodiac sign before yours is known as your ‘twelfth house gem’ and while wearing this gemstone may not give off the energy of who you are, it will help you tune into and respond to the positive energy of those around you.

Whatever your thoughts or beliefs, the gift of a birthstone is always a special thing, showing your thought and care for the lucky recipient, whenever their birthday falls.