Birthstones 101

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Birthstones 101

One of our favorite birthday gift ideas is giving someone jewelry that is associated with their birthstone. For each month in the year, there is a designated birthstone which dates back to ancient times. Each birthstone has a unique historical significance and meaning. Ancient civilizations believed these gemstones to have valuable powers such as health, prosperity and good luck. Most months have one gemstone but some months have more than one.


Are you curious how birthstones originated? Some believe that birthstones can be traced back to the Bible. In Exodus, Aaron wore a breastplate with 12 gemstones representing the 12 tribes of Israel. Later, these 12 stones were tied to the 12 zodiac signs, but it wasn’t until 1912 that an official birthstone chart was created by the National Association of Jewelers. It has remained unchanged ever since. 


To learn more about the birthstones by month, read on below!



garnet gemstones
This fascinating stone is believed to have originated from two different words – ‘gernet’, which means ‘dark red’ in Middle English and from the Latin word ‘Granatus’, meaning ‘seed-like’ in reference to pomegranate seeds. Garnet represents faith, love and consistency. This gemstone is believed to provide directional guidance in the darkness making it ideal for frequent travelers. Most garnet stones are a deep red color.
  • Color: Mostly red or deep red. Rarer varieties can be lighter red and nearly any other color.
  • Hardness: 6.5-7.5
  • Major Sources: Brazil, India, Madagascar, and the United States.  



This gemstone was believed to prevent intoxication because the name “amethyst” derives from the Greek amethystos, which means “a remedy against drunkenness,” a benefit long ascribed to the purple birthstone. Ancient cultures believed the amethyst stone promotes temperance. At one time, only royalty could wear this purple gem, but today it provides peace, serenity, strengthened relationships and courage to those that wear it.  

  • Color: Pale lilac to deep reddish purple. May have color zoning.
  • Hardness: 7
  • Major Sources: Brazil, Bolivia, Uruguay, and Zambia.  



The name derives from the two Latin words aqua and marina. Aqua translates to “water" while marina translates to "of the sea”. The Romans and ancient mariners believed that aquamarine was used to calm waves and they wore the gemstone to keep safe while traveling at sea. Historically, water in which aquamarine was soaked was used to fight off poison and illness. Named after seawater, the stone reflects the calmness and serenity.
  • Color: Blue to blue-green.
  • Hardness: 7.5-8
  • Major Sources: Brazil, Madagascar, the United States, Australia, India, Namibia, and Nigeria. 



diamond hearts
A diamond is so strong, that its name comes from the Greek word adamas, meaning “invincible” or “unbreakable.” They are associated with the terms invincible and unbreakable because of their hardness. Diamonds are well-known symbols of everlasting love used to represent commitment and marriage. They also signify invincibility and were known to bestow courage upon those that wear it. 
  • Color: Colorless, gray, shades of yellow, brown, pink, green, orange, lavender, blue, black; rarely red.
  • Hardness: 10
  • Major Sources: South Africa, India, Brazil, Venezuela, Russia, Australia, and the United States.




May's birthstone, the emerald, is the gem of spring and it's known for its vivid green color. The word “emerald” comes from the word smaragdos, which is ancient Greek for a green gem. Emeralds were mined earliest in Egypt. In fact, the gem was one of Queen Cleopatra's favorites. Emeralds have historically been associated with love, happiness and prosperity.  

  • Color: Deep to medium green, blueish green.
  • Hardness: 7.5-8
  • Major Sources: Colombia, Brazil, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Madagascar, and Nigeria. 



pearl gemstone
Pearls have been long known as the "Queen of Gems". They have been treasured for thousands of years and have been considered a symbol of status and wealth. Many royals throughout history have worn pearls in their jewelry. Pearls are found in marine and freshwater bodies of water. The Greeks believed they were the hardened tears of Aphrodite, the goddess of love. Individuals wore pearls to increase personal integrity and growth.
  • ColorPearl color is the result of a body color and an overtone color or orient present as a lustrous sheen. The orient is the color seen as reflected by a diffuse light source. The rest of the color is due to the body color.
  • Hardness: 2.5-4.5
  • SourcesOccurs naturally worldwide (but rarely); most pearls are cultivated.


moonstone gemstone
Moonstone is the best-known gem of the feldspar group of minerals. It is renowned for its adularescence, the light that appears to billow across a gemstone, giving it a special glow. This June birthstone has been associated with both the Roman and Greek lunar deities. Hindu mythology claims that it is made of solidified moonbeams. Moonstone is often associated with love, passion and fertility; it is believed to bring great luck. Legends say that moonstone brings good luck. Many believed that you could see the future if you held a moonstone in your mouth during a full moon.
  • Color: Glassy purity with a mobile, electric blue shimmer.
  • Hardness: 6-6.5
  • Major Sources: United States, India, and Sri Lanka.


alexandrite gemstones
Alexandrite’s dramatic color change is sometimes described as “emerald by day, ruby by night.” The gem was named after the young Alexander II (1818–1881), heir apparent to the throne. Alexandrite caught the country’s attention because its red and green colors mirrored the national military colors of imperial Russia. 
 Since the discovery of alexandrite, the gemstone has been thought to bring luck, good fortune and love. In Russia, it is considered to be a stone of very good omen. It is believed to bring balance in the interaction between the physical manifest world and the unmanifest spiritual, or astral world.
  • Color: Green to bluish green in daylight and red to purplish red in incandescent light.
  • Hardness: 8.5
  • Major Sources: Brazil, Sri Lanka, and East Africa.



ruby gemstones
The name “ruby” comes from rubeus, the Latin word for red. In ancient Sanskrit, ruby translated to ratnaraj, which meant “King of Gems”, for its rarity, hardness (second only to diamond), beauty and seemingly mystical powers. Long associated with the life force blood, ruby was a symbol of power and youthful energy in Indian jewelry. In past centuries, some believed this birthstone for July could predict misfortune or danger, and others claimed it would cure inflammatory diseases and soothe anger. Burmese warriors believed it made them invincible in battle. Medieval Europeans maintained that rubies bestowed health, wisdom, wealth and success in love.
  • ColorAll varieties of red, from pinkish, purplish, orangey, brownish, to dark red.
  • Hardness: 9
  • Major SourcesMyanmar, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Cambodia, Madagascar, Kenya, Tanzania, Mozambique, Afghanistan, Nepal, and Vietnam. 



peridot gemstones

It is believed to derive from the Arabic word ‘faridat’ meaning ‘gem’, some scholars agree the word peridot is rooted in the Greek word ‘peridona’ which means ‘giving plenty’. This may explain why peridot is associated with prosperity and good fortune. This August birthstone was valued in many ancient and medieval cultures. It appeared in priests’ jewelry as early as the second century BCE and later in the chalices and churches of medieval Europe. The peridot birthstone has also been used for centuries as a protective talisman, shielding the owner from evil spirits and “terrors of the night.”

  • Color: All varieties of green.
  • Hardness: 6.5-7
  • Major Sources: Egypt, Myanmar, the United States, Norway, Mexico, Sri Lanka, Kenya, and Australia.




The name “spinel” comes from the Latin word spina, which means thorn, in reference to the shape of spinel crystals. This second August birthstone comes in a wealth of colors: intense red, vibrant pink, orange, purple, violet, blue and bluish green. Red spinel, along with other red gems, was thought to be a remedy for all types of blood loss and inflammatory diseases. The red gems were believed to ease anger and promote harmony. 

  • Color: Bright red, cobalt blue, vivid pink, orange, or pale lavender.
  • Hardness: 8
  • Major Sources: Tajikistan, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, Tanzania, and Pakistan.  



blue sapphires
“Sapphire” comes from the Greek word sappheiros, which means blue stone.  Sapphires symbolize wisdom and purity. The word is Greek for "blue," however sapphires come in multiple colors. The September birthstone has traditionally symbolized sincerity, truth, faithfulness and nobility. For countless centuries, sapphire has adorned royalty and the robes of the clergy. The elite of ancient Greece and Rome believed that blue sapphires protected their owners from harm and envy. Clerics of the Middle Ages wore sapphires because they symbolized Heaven. Ancient Persians believed the earth actually rested on a giant sapphire, which made the sky blue.
  • Color: Colorless, white, gray, blue, blue-green, green, violet, purple, orange, yellow, yellow-green, brown, golden amber, peachy pink, pink, black. May show color zoning.
  • Hardness: 9
  • Major Sources: Sri Lanka, Kashmir, Australia, Myanmar, Thailand, and the United States.  



opal gemstone
The name of this, the traditional October birthstone, is believed to have originated in India (the source of the first opals brought to the Western world), where in Sanskrit it was called upala, a “precious stone."  In ancient Rome, this became opalus. Most opals are valued for their shifting colors in rainbow hues – a phenomenon known as “play-of-color.” The October birthstone’s dramatic play-of-color has inspired writers to compare it to fireworks, galaxies and volcanoes. Bedouins once believed opal held lightning and fell from the sky during thunderstorms. Ancient Greeks thought opals bestowed the gift of prophesy and protection from disease. Europeans long maintained opal to be a symbol of purity, hope and truth. Hundreds of years ago, opal was believed to embody the virtues and powers of all colored stones.
  • Color: Colorless, white, yellow, orange, and red (various shades), yellowish brown, greenish, blue, gray, black, violet.
  • Hardness: 5.5-6.5
  • Major SourcesAustralia, Brazil, Czech Republic, Ethiopia, Honduras, Indonesia, Mexico, Poland, Tanzania, and the United States.


tourmaline gemstone
Tourmaline is the newer October birthstone. The name comes from the Sinhalese word toramalli, which means “stone with mixed colors,” because it often has multiple colors in one crystal. Very few gems match tourmaline’s dazzling array of colors. Perhaps this is why ancient mystics believed this October birthstone could inspire artistic expression – it has a color palette for every mood. Among the most popular are the pink and red rubellites, the emerald green “chrome” tourmalines, and the neon green and blue-to-violet “paraíba” tourmalines. 
  • ColorTourmaline's rainbow colors have a wide range of color intensity and tone.
  • Hardness: 7-7.5
  • Major Sources: Most commonly found in Brazil, but it is also mined in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Kenya, Madagascar, Mozambique, and the United States.  



topaz and citrine

Citrine derives its name from the French word, ‘citron’, which is named for the French word “lemon,” since the stone contains a yellow-orange color. Citrine has been a popular gemstone since ancient times and has shared a history of mistaken identities with the other November birthstone, topaz. As a result, people thought citrine had the same powers as topaz. They believed the citrine birthstone could soothe tempers and calm the wearer. 

  • Color: Yellow to red-orange, also deep orange and orangey brown.
  • Hardness: 7
  • Major SourcesBolivia, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Madagascar, Mexico, Myanmar, Namibia, Peru, Russia, South Africa, the United States, and Zambia. 


topaz gemstone
Some believe the word “topaz” comes from the Sanskrit word tapas, which means “fire.” Others trace it back to the Greek topazos. This November birthstone was long thought to have many benefits. The ancient Greeks believed that topaz gave them strength. From the 1300s to the 1600s, Europeans thought it could thwart magic spells and dispel anger. For centuries, many people in India have believed that topaz worn above the heart assures long life, beauty and intelligence. 
  • Color: Honey yellow. Fiery orange. Cyclamen pink. Icy blue. 
  • Hardness: 8 
  • Major Sources: Brazil, Namibia, Nigeria, Madagascar, Mexico, Myanmar, Sri Lanka and the United States.  



turquoise gemstone
The gem’s name comes from the French expression pierre tourques, or “Turkish stone.” Turquoise, the captivating sea-green stone of the ancients, was thought to possess many beneficial powers, like guaranteeing health and good fortune. From the 13th century on, it was believed to protect the wearer from falling (especially off horses), and would break into several pieces at the approach of disaster. Hindu mystics maintained that seeing a turquoise after beholding the new moon ensured fantastic wealth.
  • Color: Azure sky, robin’s egg blue.
  • Hardness: 5-6
  • Major Sources: China, Iran, and the United States.


tanzanite gemstone
Tanzanite – named after the only place in the world where this gemstone can be found, Tanzania. Tanzanite changes colors when it is viewed from different directions. This shifting of colors has been said to facilitate raising consciousness. It aids in realizing your own ideas and transforms destructive urges into constructive ones.
  • Color: Poised between lush blue, vibrant violet, and rich purple.
  • Hardness: 6-7
  • Only Source: The Merelani Hills of northern Tanzania.


zircon gemstone

The origins of the word “zircon” have elicited colorful debate. Some scholars believe it comes from the Arabic word zarkun, meaning “cinnabar” or “vermilion.” Others think the source is the Persian word zargun, or “gold colored.” Considering the broad color palette for this December birthstone – red, orange, yellow, brown, green and blue – either derivation seems possible. During the Middle Ages, this December birthstone was thought to lull one into a deep sleep and scare off evil spirits. In the Hindu religion, zircon alternates with hessonite garnet as one of the nine gems of the navaratna. When worn together, the nine gems protect the wearer and bring wealth, wisdom and good health.

  • Color: Reddish brown, yellow, gray, green, red; various other colors (including blue) induced by heating.
  • Hardness: 6-7.5
  • Major Sources: Sri Lanka, Cambodia, Myanmar, Thailand, Australia, and Canada.

 Birthstone Jewelry in Boca Raton

It’s easy to see why birthstone jewelry pieces make a fabulous gift for any occasion, isn’t it? They offer a way for you to personalize a gift even more. The thought behind any birthstone jewelry item shows you put in the extra time to select a meaningful present. The beautiful color and personal significance makes birthstone jewelry a perfect gift. Shop for birthstone jewelry in Boca Raton at Devon's Diamonds & Decor. 
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