Is it just me, or does it seem like birthstones have changed over the years? For example, I could have sworn June's birthstone was always a pearl. And then suddenly, it was a purple gem.
I did some digging and found out that some months have multiple birthstones! But why is that, and what do the birthstones mean?
As a jeweler planning to launch an entire line of birthstone jewelry, this seems like vital information I should know.
So, here's what I learned:
What are the 12 Birthstones in Order?
Here are the 12 birthstones in order:
- January: Garnet
- February: Amethyst
- March: Aquamarine or Bloodstone
- April: Diamond
- May: Emerald
- June: Pearl, Moonstone, or Alexandrite
- July: Ruby
- August: Peridot or Spinel
- September: Sapphire
- October: Opal or Tourmaline
- November: Topaz or Citrine
- December: Turquoise, Zircon, or Tanzanite
If you were born in a month with multiple birthstone options, you're probably wondering, "Which birthstone should I get?"
The best way to decide that is to know what they look like and what the birthstones mean.
What Do the Birthstones Mean?
Photo Credit: By Dr. Avishai Teicher Pikiwiki Israel, CC BY 2.5
There's a long and fascinating history behind the meaning of each birthstone. In the Western world, we started associating meaning with these colorful gems back in the first century. A historian claimed there's a connection between each month and the twelve stones mentioned in the Book of Exodus.
For my non-religious friends, that's the second book of the Bible. It refers to the twelve stones on Aaron's (the High Priest of the Hebrews) breastplate. Each stone represented the 12 tribes of Israel.
Back then, people would wear each stone on the corresponding month. This was thought to bring the wearer special powers or protection (depending on the type of gem for that month).
Think of it like Thano's gauntlet and the infinity stones— except collecting them all wouldn't wipe out half of the population.
Ultimately, birthstones are talismans or a symbol of good luck. Today, the meaning of birthstones is determined by the wearer. You can find connections and actually choose your birthstone based on your birth month, zodiac, or even the day of the week you were born.
In 1912, the Jewelers of America adopted its official list of Birthstone Jewelry. This list has only been updated twice (1952 and 2019) to add alternative gems to months (like June) whose stone is difficult to fit into jewelry.
So, what do the birthstones mean for each month? Let's go over all 12 infinity stones—I mean—birthstones.
Color: Traditionally, garnets are deep red in color, but this gemstone can be found in every color of the rainbow (a blue garnet is rare).
So if your birthday is in January, but you prefer the color green over red, you can get a green garnet birthstone to represent your birth month!
January Birthstone Meaning: A garnet symbolizes energy, passion, and love.
Color: Light purple or lilac to deep purple or maroon (the darker the stone, the more valuable it is).
February Birthstone Meaning: Purple symbolizes luxury and power. And apparently, "Ancient wearers believed the gemstone could protect them from drunkenness."
So, keep that in mind the next time you go bar hopping for your birthday.
March: Aquamarine or Bloodstone
Aquamarine Color: Light blue or a blue/green gem
Bloodstone Color: Dark green stone with red specks.
March Birthstone Meaning: The aquamarine birthstone symbolizes the sea (aqua= water, marine= sea). Back in the day, it was given to sailors to promote good luck and safe sailing. Aquamarine often symbolizes intelligence.
You can substitute your aquamarine birthstone for Bloodstone: a Heliotrope mineral. Someone who wears Bloodstone jewelry might consider themselves nurturing, protective, or pure.
Color: Opaque or transparent, sometimes emitting a rainbow glow
April Birthstone Meaning: Diamonds are considered a timeless classic. Diamonds are highly durable gems and hard to destroy.
Because of this, those who wear diamonds are thought to be strong and destined for a lifetime of love.
Color: Deep green; one of the Big Four Precious Stones alongside diamonds, rubies, and sapphires. An emerald is quite literally known as a "rare gem."
May Birthstone Meaning: In color psychology, "Green symbolizes harmony, tranquility, and peace. As a soothing, relaxing color, it enhances stability and endurance.
It is most often associated with growth and renewal, and it promotes optimism, hopefulness, and balance.
June: Pearl, Moonstone, or Alexandrite
Pearl Color: White
Moonstone Color: As the Jewelers of America described, "Moonstones range from opaque to transparent, but the finest have a glass-like quality with a vibrant blue shimmer."
Alexandrite Color: This gem is truly magical for its ability to change color. Inside, it looks green but outside, it looks purple ("emerald by day, ruby by night," as some like to put it).
June Birthstone Meaning: Pearls are the classic stone associated with June, dating back to the original 1912 birthstone list. Pearls have been named the "teardrops of Heaven," and their smooth, flawless surface symbolizes qualities like purity, honesty, and wisdom.
Moonstone gem was first introduced as a June birthstone in the 1912 Jewelers of America's list. It symbolizes feminity, hope, and new beginnings.
Alexandrite was not an official June birthstone until 1952. Because of its rarity, this gem is thought to symbolize good fortune.
Color: Deep, rich red (sometimes with pink or orange undertones)
July Birthstone Meaning: Rubies are stones for warriors dating back to 11,000–200 BCE. Because of this, Ruby's birthstones symbolize life, blood, and strength.
A July baby might be courageous, independent, and socially apt.
Shop: Ruby birthstone necklace
August: Peridot or Spinel
Peridot Color: Light green with yellow undertones
Spinel Color: Pink or red
August Birthstone Meaning: Because of its nature-like color, peridot gems symbolize harmony, good health, restful sleep, and peacefulness.
Similarly, spinel is a symbol of positivity. If you were born in August, you might prefer wearing this birthstone if you're looking for a way to:
- Dispel negative energy,
- Increase your stamina, or
- Become the best version of yourself!
Color: Celestial blue
September Birthstone Meaning: Like the rest of these birthstones, the sapphire has different meanings across time and countries.
For example, royals would wear sapphires to attract wealth and protect themselves from envy. It is also thought to help the wearer feel calm and a sense of clarity.
October: Opal or Tourmaline
Opal Color: White or colorless stone with blue, orange, and pink specks
Tourmaline Color: This versatile stone comes in various colors, but you'll often find this October birthstone in a light pink shade.
October Birthstone Meaning: You may have heard that opals (despite being one of the most stunning birthstones) are associated with bad luck.
Thankfully, these unfounded superstitions have (mostly) died out over the past few centuries and are now more commonly seen as a stone that brings forth creativity, faithfulness, and healing.
On the other hand, Tourmaline is meant to inspire self-confidence, love, and relaxation.
Shop: Opal birthstone necklace
November: Topaz or Citrine
Topaz Color: Yellow or light blue
Citrine Color: Yellow-orange
November Birthstone Meaning: Topaz symbolizes love and affection.
And because citrine is a blazing yellow-orange in color, it's thought to bring the wearer all the powers of the sun: light, energy, healing, and happiness.
December: Turquoise, Zircon, or Tanzanite
Note: Blue topaz has been used as both a November and December birthstone. For the purposes of this article, however, we're going to give you the more unique December birthstone options!
Turquoise Color: Green-blue, sometimes with black specks
Zircon Color: Initially a brownish-red, but when heat-treated, zircon can appear colorless or (more commonly) pastel blue
Tanzanite Color: A lighter dark blue
December Birthstone Meaning: December babies are one of the lucky few who can choose from multiple birthstones. Turquoise is often known as the stone of protection and is thought to bring luck and peace.
Zircon is thought to and off evil spirits and bring the wearer good health, wealth, and wisdom.
The most popular and modern of your choices is tanzanite. Some people believe this gem brings a sense of calm and serenity when worn. It's also thought that tanzanite facilitates a "higher consciousness and stimulates intuition and perception."