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What do the birthstones represent?

What do the birthstones represent?

Birthstones are gemstones that represent each month of the year. They are thought to bring good luck, protection, and other benefits to people born in their corresponding month. Many cultures have associated certain stones with astrological signs, and birthstones come from this ancient tradition. While the origins of birthstones are shrouded in myth and legend, their meanings reveal a lot about our history and beliefs.

The history and origins of birthstones

The idea of birthstones arose from early astrology and the zodiac. Astrologers associated the 12 gemstones with the 12 signs of the zodiac and believed that the stones held powers related to each sign. This tradition dates back at least to the first century BC, as we know the Roman scholar Pliny the Elder described birthstones in his Natural History encyclopedia.

By the 15th and 16th centuries, people commonly wore their birthstone set in jewelry or carried it as an amulet. They believed the special powers of the stones would bring them good fortune, ward off evil, and protect their health. Royalty and wealthy families had birthstone jewelry made for their children, further popularizing the tradition.

While birthstones originally came from zodiac signs, the modern list is slightly different. It first arose in Poland during the 18th or 19th century before spreading to Russia and Germany. By the early 20th century, the Polish list was common across much of the Western world. In 1912, the American National Association of Jewelers officially adopted and standardized this list of modern birthstones.

The meaning behind each birthstone

Each of the 12 birthstones has taken on unique symbolism and meaning. Here is an overview of the significance behind these special gems:

January – Garnet

Garnets symbolize faith, love, and passion. As the color red stimulates our root chakra associated with life force and vitality, garnets are thought to energize and revitalize their wearers. Garnets also represent friendship and trust.

February – Amethyst

Amethysts are symbols of spirituality, sobriety, and security. The violet color resonates with the crown chakra, connecting us with higher wisdom and intuition. For centuries, amethysts have been associated with royalty and elite society. They bring balance, stability, and peace of mind to those born in this month.

March – Aquamarine

With their airy blue tones, aquamarines symbolize clarity, calmness, and relief. Sailors once believed aquamarines would ensure safe passage at sea and prevent seasickness. Aquamarines are also associated with youth, health, and hope. Wearing one is thought to cool tempers, soothe nerves, and bring mental clarity.

April – Diamond

Diamonds represent strength, eternity, and courage. As the hardest natural substance on Earth, diamonds reflect inner fortitude and overcoming challenges. Diamonds have long been symbols of eternal love. Their dazzling fire embodies the passion associated with April’s fiery Aries zodiac sign.

May – Emerald

As the green of springtime, emeralds symbolize rebirth, renewal, and growth. They were dedicated to the planet Venus and embody love, beauty, and opulence. Emeralds are also associated with healing, wisdom, and intuition. They help balance the mind, body, and spirit.

June – Pearl

Pearls represent purity, humility, and integrity. As they come from the sea, they are associated with the emotional, feminine energy of water. Pearls were worn to calm minds and control anger. They also signify loyalty, generosity, and integrity in their wearers.

July – Ruby

Rubies symbolize passion, energy, and danger. As the color of blood, they represent courage and strength. Ancient Hindus called rubies “ratnaraj,” or “king of precious stones,” believing they would bring health, wisdom, and good fortune to kings. Rubies also signify friendship, love, and commitment.

August – Peridot

A light green mineral, peridots symbolize strength, power, and cleansing. Egyptians once called them the “gem of the sun,” believing they protected against darkness and evil. Peridots also represent dignity, balance, and prosperity. They bring their wearers success, peace, and good luck.

September – Sapphire

Sapphires symbolize nobility, purity, and wisdom. As the gem of kings and queens, they signify luxury, power, and ambition. Sapphires instill mental clarity and inner peace. Traditionally blue, they embody faith, intelligence, and stability.

October – Opal

Opals represent hope, innocence, and purity. Their shifting play of color is associated with fluidity and change. They symbolize faithfulness and confidence. Opals bring their wearers creativity and inspiration. They also enhance memory and deepen meditative states.

November – Topaz

Golden brown topaz gemstones symbolize warmth, healing, and protection. They promote openness and generosity while dispelling negativity. Topaz also represents wisdom gained through experience. It brings focus, strength of will, and mental clarity.

December – Turquoise

Turquoise has long protected against darkness and evil. It represents wisdom, tranquility, and wholeness. As the union of sky and sea, turquoise unites male and female energies. It combines intellect with emotion, logic with intuition. Turquoise brings focus, creativity, and spiritual grounding.

How are birthstones used?

People use birthstones in many ways today. The most common are:

  • Jewelry – Birthstones are very popular in rings, necklaces, bracelets, and other jewelry types. People enjoy wearing their birthstone close to them for its believed powers and meaning.
  • Amulets and talismans – Many carry birthstones in their pockets or bags as a personal amulet. Talismans often combine multiple birthstones for amplified effects.
  • Decoration – Birthstones make beautiful ornaments and additions to things like vases, bowls, candleholders, and windowsills.
  • Meditation – Holding or placing certain birthstones on the body is believed to aid meditation and healing practices.
  • Collecting – Some enjoy collecting samples of all the birthstones for display in their raw crystal form.

No matter how they are used, birthstones remain a popular way to add meaning and symbolism to our lives. They let us feel connected with cultural history and the mystical energies associated with each unique gem.

How are birthstones determined for each month?

While birthstones originally corresponded with zodiac signs, the modern associations are more complex. Here are some key factors that determine the birthstones for each month:

  • Mythology and folklore – Many birthstones arose from legends, astrology, and ancient medicinal texts that associated them with zodiac signs, planets, gods, or healing properties.
  • Color symbolism – The color of each gem signifies something meaningful. Blues suggest calmness and greens represent growth, for example.
  • Seasonal connection – Some birthstones represent the season of their month through color, such as peridot’s green evoking summer.
  • Planetary influences – Astrologers assigned each month’s birthstone based on the ruling planet of its corresponding zodiac sign.
  • Religious significance – Birthstones like the ruby gained meaning through Biblical references or their importance in royal regalia.
  • Availability – Birthstones tend to be gems historically found plentifully during their month, like August’s peridot.

By considering these influences, each month’s birthstone reflects a rich depth of symbolic meaning and cultural history.


Birthstones represent an enduring tradition that connects us with the myths and mysteries of the past. Each brilliant gem resonates with unique symbolic power and astrological lore. Beyond their physical beauty, birthstones remind us of our inner luminance. They represent our shared hopes, strengths, and truths that transcend time and culture. Birthstones’ legend and meaning remain captivating even in the modern age.