BIRTHSTONES FOR EACH MONTH
Birthstones are a fun, popular and colourful introduction to the world of gemstones. They appeal to audiences around the world, regardless of gender, age, nationality or religion. Birthstones carry secrets, attributes and knowledge that are unique to each gemstone. There are numerous myths and legends surrounding the various powers and attributes that birthstones possess. Whether you believe in these legends or not, it's hard to disagree that learning about birthstones can be an educational and fun experience. Discover what makes your birthstone a powerful statement of your best qualities.
Those born in January are lucky enough to have the beautiful and diverse garnet as their birthstone. Garnets are usually red, but they also come in an extraordinary variety of beautiful colours, including orange, yellow, purple and vibrant green. There are even garnets that change colour from blue to purple in different illuminations. Some believe that the true value of the garnet birthstone is its power to bring the wearer good health, wealth and happiness.
THE MEANING AND HISTORY OF GARNET BIRSTONE
The name "garnet" originates from medieval Latin granatus , which means "pomegranate" in reference to the similarity of the red colour. Garnets have been used since the Bronze Age as gems and abrasives. Necklaces studded with red garnets adorned the pharaohs of ancient Egypt. Signet rings in ancient Rome featured garnet carvings that were used to stamp the wax that held important documents. The clergy and nobility of the Middle Ages had a preference for red garnets.
Garnet is actually a group of several minerals. Five of them - pyrope, almandine, spessartine, grossular and andradite - are important as gems. Pyrope and almandine range from purple to red. Spessartine is found in exciting oranges and yellows, while andradite is mainly yellow to green (the demantoid gem variety). Grossular can have the widest range, from colourless to yellow to reddish orange and orange-red, as well as a strong, vibrant green called tsavorite.
The Smithsonian's antique pyro hair comb is one of the most famous pieces of garnet jewellery (piropo is from the Greek pyrōposwhich means "eyes of fire"). A large rose-cut garnet sits on the crest, much like a queen serenely examining her court. The pyrope garnets that decorate this tiara-shaped jewel came from the historic mines of Bohemia (now part of the Czech Republic), and these rich red beauties were extremely popular during the Victorian era (1837-1901) when this piece was created.
Curious about the reputed health benefits of your garnet birthstone? According to Indian astrology, garnet helps eliminate negative feelings (depression, guilt) and instill greater self-confidence and mental clarity to promote creative thinking and peace of mind. In ancient and medieval times, stones like garnet were also considered remedies for inflammatory diseases and to calm the irritated heart.
Amethyst, February's birthstone, is the purple variety of quartz and is said to cure drunkenness and make you shrewd in business. You once had to be wealthy to own this February birthstone, but new discoveries have made it more accessible. Learn more about this stunning birthstone and where it can be found.
If you were born in February, your birthstone is amethyst - the purple variety of quartz that has captivated humanity for millennia. Its lilac to deep purple hues can be cut into many shapes and sizes, and can be lab-made and mined. Amethyst, February's birthstone, can be found in the collections of royal families throughout Europe and Asia. It is now within reach of most consumers. Consider buying a dazzling amethyst for the king or queen of your heart - or give yourself a royal gift. If your birthday is in February, wearing an amethyst can also be a symbol of personal empowerment and inner strength.
AMETHYST BIRTHSTONE MEANING AND HISTORY
The name " amethyst" is derived from the Greek amethysts which means "remedy against drunkenness", a benefit long attributed to the purple stone. Because of its wine-like colour, ancient Greek mythology associated the gem with Bacchus, the god of wine. Amethyst was also believed to keep the wearer clear and perceptive in battle and in business. Renaissance Europeans thought it soothed lovers overcome by passion.
Amethyst is the gemstone traditionally given to the sixth wedding anniversary. Wear it to celebrate your wedding nuptials or as your February birthstone and you'll be in royal company: Catherine the Great (Empress Catherine II of Russia, 1729-1796) had a thing for the gem and adorned herself with amethyst necklaces and earrings and other ornaments. The famous jewellery connoisseur Wallis, Duchess of Windsor (1896-1986), made a memorable statement when she wore a luxurious necklace of amethyst designed by Cartier for a gala at Versailles in 1953.
The Duchess of Windsor's bib-style necklace features 28 step-cut amethysts, a faceted oval amethyst and a large heart-shaped amethyst on the front, plus turquoise cabochons and brilliant-cut diamonds, all suspended from a rope-like gold chain . Courtesy of N. Welsh, Cartier Collection © Cartier
Historically, royalty have admired the deep purple hue of the February stone since at least the days of Alexander the Great. Amethyst lore also includes several claims of mystical powers, including that it would transmit strength and intelligence to those who wear it. If you celebrate a birthday in February, wearing an amethyst can be a symbol of personal empowerment and inner strength.
MARCH: AQUAMARINE AND BLOODSTAIN
MEANING AND HISTORY OF AQUAMARINE BIRTHSTONE
The name aquamarine comes from the Latin for sea water, and ancient sailors claimed the gem would calm the waves and keep sailors safe at sea. This March birthstone was also thought to bring happiness in marriage. Beryl was believed to give the wearer protection from enemies in battle and litigation. It was also thought to make the wearer invincible and kind, and to quicken the intellect.
Not only is aquamarine the birthstone of March, but the gem is also given as a gift on the 19th wedding anniversary. As for the famous, in 1936 the government of Brazil gave first lady Eleanor Roosevelt a dark blue rectangular aquamarine that weighed 1,298 carats (ct). It was the larger of two stones cut from a piece of rough aquamarine that weighed an impressive 1.3 kilograms. It is now housed in the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum in Hyde Park, New York. A celebrated attraction at the Smithsonian Institution is the 10,363 ct (about 4.6 pounds) Dom Pedro aquamarine - believed to be the largest faceted aquamarine in the world. The approximately 14-inch (36-centimetre) tall obelisk was created by acclaimed German lapidary Berndt Munsteiner using the fancy cut technique.
Glowing with an inner fire of its own, the diamond is one of the most sought-after and adored gemstones in the world. Those born in April are lucky enough to call this sparkling gem their birthstone, a symbol of clarity and strength. The diamond is so strong, in fact, that its name comes from the Greek word "adamas", meaning "invincible" or "unbreakable". The timeless charm of the diamond was appreciated long before it became April's birthstone, and the places where the diamond comes from are as fascinating as the tradition that surrounds it.
MEANING AND HISTORY OF THE DIAMOND
Our love for April's birthstone began in India, where diamonds were collected from the country's rivers and streams. Traded as early as the 4th century BC, diamonds were coveted by royalty and the wealthy. Later, caravans brought Indian diamonds, along with other exotic goods, to the medieval markets of Venice. By 1400, diamonds were becoming fashionable accessories for Europe's elite. The first recorded diamond engagement ring was given by Archduke Maximilian of Austria to his bride, Maria of Burgundy, in 1477. Recent evidence supports the origin of the legendary 45.52 carat (ct) Hope blue diamond in the Golconda mining area of India and its sale to King Louis XIV of France (then known as the French blue diamond) in 1668.
In the early 1700s, as supplies of diamonds from India began to dwindle, Brazil emerged as an important source. The diamonds were discovered when garimpeiros were digging for gravel on the banks of the Jequitinhonha River in Minas Gerais. Brazil dominated the diamond market for over 150 years.
The discovery of diamonds near Kimberley in South Africa in the late 1860s marked the beginning of the modern diamond market. Entrepreneur Cecil Rhodes founded De Beers Consolidated Mines Limited in 1888 and by 1900, De Beers controlled some 90% of the world's rough diamond production. The largest diamond ever found - at 3,106 ct (621 grams) - was recovered from South Africa's Premier mine in 1905. From it was cut the 530 ct pear-shaped Cullinan I diamond, also known as the Great Star of Africa, which is now studded in the Royal Cross Scepter and housed with the other Crown Jewels in the Tower of London.
An anonymous second-century poet held that this birthstone for April warded off the evil eye - an evil eye believed to cause illness, poverty and even death. The April birthstone was believed to have healing powers. Over the centuries, the diamond birthstone was thought to be an antidote to poison and provide protection against the plague. Some claim it to be a benefit for longevity, strength, beauty and happiness.
In addition to being April's birthday stone, the diamond is the chosen gift for the 60th and 75th wedding anniversaries . And, of course, today diamond engagement ring has become an almost universal symbol of love and marriage.
Emerald, the birthstone of May, has been loved for millennia, evoking rebirth and renewal. Widely regarded as the definition of green, emerald is the perfect colour for spring. From the poetic description of Ireland as 'the Emerald Isle' to the vibrant green of the famous gemstone itself - the May emerald has won hearts and minds throughout the ages.
Variations of this rich green colour suggest lush, soft gardens. Legend has it that emerald has the power to make its wearer more intelligent and perceptive, and was once believed to cure diseases such as cholera and malaria. Today, it is the gemstone given for 20th and 35th wedding anniversaries.
MEANING AND HISTORY OF THE EMERALD BIRTHSTONE
From Egyptian pharaohs to Inca emperors, emerald has enchanted royalty. Cleopatra was known to have a passion for emerald and used it in her royal adornments. The legendary Crown of the Andes, fashioned in colonial South America, is an example of how the Spanish revered the May birthstone. According to tradition, its largest stone - now called the Atahualpa emerald - was taken from the last Inca emperor, Atahualpa, by conquistador Francisco Pizarro. The emerald and gold treasures recovered from the Spanish galleon Our Lady of Atocha , sunk in the 17th century, represent a small fraction of the colonial wealth sent from the New World to Spain.
The word "emerald" comes from smaragdos Ancient Greek for a green jewel. The Roman author Pliny the Elder, who died in the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 CE, wrote in his encyclopaedic Natural History that "nothing is greener". He also claimed that the May birthstone had therapeutic properties that helped polishers: "(they) have no better method of restoring their eyes than to look at the emerald, its soft green colour comforting and removing their tiredness and lassitude." Science now proves this belief: the colour green relieves stress and eye fatigue.
The green stone was also thought to have magical powers. By placing it under the tongue, one could see the future. Some believed it made someone an eloquent speaker and exposed lovers who made false promises.
JUNE: PEARL, MOONSTONE AND ALEXANDRITE
If you were born in the month of June, you are lucky enough to have three birthstones to call your own. June is one of three months (the others being August and December) that has three birthstones, giving you a variety of beautiful birthstone options.
June birthstones are pearl, alexandrite and moonstone. With so many attractive options, June birthdays can have a birthstone that suits their mood or budget due to the different colours and price ranges these gems offer.
MEANING AND HISTORY OF THE PEARL BIRTHSTONE
This charming June stone originates from oceans, lakes and rivers around the world. It is a timeless wardrobe staple, loved by women of all ages. The origin of pearls has fascinated our ancestors. Ancient Middle Easterners believed that pearls were tears falling from the sky. The Chinese imagined that the June birthstone came from the brain of a dragon. Christopher Columbus and his contemporaries thought that molluscs formed pearls from dew drops.
Pearls are organic gems that grow inside the tissue of a living saltwater or freshwater mollusc (an oyster or a mussel). Natural pearls form when the mollusc secretes a substance called nacre around an irritant, such as a piece of sand or a parasite that has invaded its shell. Cultured pearls are a product of human intervention. Technicians implant a piece of mantle tissue alone (common for freshwater cultured pearls) or with a mother-of-pearl shell bead (all in saltwater) into a host mollusc. The mollusc covers the irritant with nacre, like a natural pearl. Cultured pearls are raised in pearl farms - saltwater or freshwater operations where the molluscs are cleaned, protected from predators and eventually harvested. Thousands of years of pearl fishing have decimated natural pearl beds, so cultured pearls represent the vast majority of pearl sales today. These cultured pearls come in a dazzling array of sizes, colours and shapes.
Pearls have been associated with purity, humility and innocence. Therefore, it can be said that the meaning of the June birthstone is "sweet simplicity". As such, pearls were traditionally given as a wedding gift.
The birthstone pearl was also thought to have beneficial properties. In the ancient Sanskrit text, the Atharvaveda, pearls were said to confer long life and prosperity. In Asia, pearls were believed to help relieve indigestion and bleeding. Some 19th century Arab doctors claimed that pearl powder improved eyesight, calmed nervous tremors and relieved depression .
One of the most famous natural pearls is the La Peregrina 50.56 carats (ct).. The size of a pigeon's egg, the drop-shaped pearl was discovered in 1500 in the Gulf of Panama. It became a prized possession of European royalty. Richard Burton eventually gifted it to Elizabeth Taylor in 1969; Christie's New York auctioned the Cartier necklace containing La Peregrina for US$ 11.8 million in 2011.
MEANING AND HISTORY OF THE BIRTHSTONE MOONSTONE
Moonstone is the best known gem from the feldspar group of minerals. It is known for its adularescence, the light that seems to ripple through a gemstone, giving it a special lustre. The finest moonstones show a blue glow against a colourless background. This June birthstone has been associated with Roman and Greek moon deities. Hindu mythology states that it is made of solidified moonbeams. The moonstone is often associated with love, passion and fertility; it is believed to bring great luck.
Great designers of the Art Nouveau era (1890s to 1910s), such as René Lalique and Louis Comfort Tiffany, featured the moonstone in their fine jewellery. The moonstone came to the fore again during the "flower child" movement of the 1960s and with the New Age designers of the 1990s.
MEANING AND HISTORY OF THE BIRTHSTONE MOONSTONE
Alexandrite is the rare variety of the mineral chrysoberyl that changes colour in different illuminations. The most prized are alexandrite stones that show a vivid green to bluish green in daylight or fluorescent light, and a deep red to purplish red in incandescent light. The main deposits of alexandrite were first discovered in 1830 in the Ural Mountains of Russia. The jewel was named after the young Alexander II (1818-1881), heir apparent to the throne. The alexandrite caught the country's attention because its red and green colours reflected the national military colours of imperial Russia.
When certain types of long, thin inclusions are oriented parallel to each other in this June birthstone, they can create another phenomenon, called chatoyancy or the cat's eye effect. Few gems are as fascinating - or as dazzling - as cat's-eye alexandrite.
Ruby is the birthstone of July - and is one of the most coveted gems. The name is derived from the Latin word ruber which means "red" - the colour of love and passion. Few things attract attention like the ruby birthstone. The best birthstone colour for July is a dark red with a hint of purple, called "pigeon blood" in the trade. A variety of the mineral corundum, ruby gets its colour from traces of the element chromium. The more chromium, the stronger the red. Here's what you need to know about this beautiful July birthstone so you can better choose one for yourself or a loved one born in July.
MEANING AND HISTORY OF THE BIRTHSTONE RUBY
In ancient India, ruby was called the "king of gemstones" 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 jewellery. In past centuries, some believed this birthstone for July could foretell misfortune or danger, and others claimed it would cure inflammatory diseases and calm anger. Burmese warriors believed it made them invincible in battle. Medieval Europeans held that rubies conferred health, wisdom, wealth and success in love.
AUGUST: PERIDOTO, SPINEL, SARDONYXX
Peridot, spinel and sardonyx are the three birthstones of August. The peridot stone is known to be formed under extreme conditions, as it can be found in hardened lava that carried it from deep within the Earth's mantle, as well as in meteorites that travelled from outer space. Spinel was underrated until recently, as today's consumers look for an alternative to ruby, a gemstone that red spinel was confused with for centuries. Sardonyx is the original August stone, with a history dating back more than 4,000 years. Learn more about these three August birthstones and discover the perfect gift for those born in August.
MEANING AND HISTORY OF THE BIRTHSTONE PERIDOT
Peridot is the yellowish green to greenish yellow variety of the mineral olivine. Throughout history, the peridot was often confused with other gemstones, such as topaz and emerald. The island of Topaz in the Red Sea, a supposed source of the name "topaz", actually produced peridot. The Shrine of the Three Holy Kings in Cologne Cathedral in Germany is decorated with 200 carats of gemstones believed to be emeralds, but are actually the August peridot. Some historians even speculate that Cleopatra's famous emerald collection may have been composed of peridot.
The word "peridot" comes from Arabic faridat, meaning gemstone. This August birthstone was valued in many ancient and medieval cultures. It appeared in the jewellery of priests as early as the 2nd century BC and later in the chalices and churches of medieval Europe. The peridot birthstone has also been used for centuries as a protective talisman, protecting the owner from evil spirits and "terrors of the night".
Peridot is the gem given to celebrate a 16th birthday from marriage.
MEANING AND HISTORY OF THE SPINEL BIRTHSTONE
The name "espinela" comes from the Latin word spina , which means thorn, in reference to the shape of spinel crystals. This second birthstone of August comes in a wealth of colours: deep red, vibrant pink, orange, purple, violet, blue and bluish green.
For centuries, spinel was confused with other gemstones. Some of the most famous "rubies" in history turned out to be this August birthstone. The approximately 170-carat Black Prince "ruby", for example, belonged to a succession of Moorish and Spanish kings before Edward, Prince of Wales (also known as the Black Prince) received the stone in 1367 as payment for winning a battle on behalf of Peter of Castile. Only in the 18th century was spinel clearly separated from ruby based on their chemical differences. Today, this historic red spinel is set into the Crown of the Imperial State of Britain , just above the 317.40-carat Cullinan II diamond.
Red spinel, along with other red gems, was considered a remedy for all types of blood loss and inflammatory diseases. Red gems were believed to relieve anger and promote harmony. This August birthstone is traditionally given as a 22nd wedding anniversary present .
MEANING AND HISTORY OF THE SARDONIXX BIRTHSTONE
The oldest of the August birthstones, sardonyx is a combination of two types of chalcedony (cryptocrystalline quartz): sardonyx and onyx. Bands of brownish red to brown to dark orange alternate with typically white or black layers of onyx. In ancient times, sardonyx was a popular stone for Roman seals and signet rings, as hot wax did not stick to it. For millennia, the bands of colour in this August birthstone made it a popular carving material for cameos and carvings.
Sardonyx is believed to be one of the stones in the breastplate of the High Priest, as referred to in the Old Testament, and to represent spiritual life force. Roman soldiers wore sardonyx rings with the image of Mars carved on them for protection in battle. Today, this August birthstone is associated with courage, happiness and clear communication, bringing stability to marriage and partnerships.
September's birthstone is the sapphire - a jewel that has been cherished for thousands of years. Although the term sapphire usually refers to the blue variety of corundum (ruby is the red variety), this birthstone comes in a rainbow of other colours. Sapphires have been associated with royalty and romance and also symbolise fidelity and the soul. "Sapphire" comes from the Greek word sapheiros And blue sapphire is one of the most popular coloured stones. Read on to find out more about the September birthstone, specifically its history and where it can be found.
MEANING AND HISTORY OF THE BIRTHSTONE SAPPHIRE
September's birthstone traditionally symbolises sincerity, truth, fidelity 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 in the Middle Ages wore sapphires because they symbolised Heaven. The ancient Persians believed that the earth actually rested on a giant sapphire, which turned the sky blue.
September's birthstone was also reputed to have healing powers. Medieval Europeans believed sapphire cured boils and eye diseases. The sapphire birthstone was also thought to be an antidote to poison.
Famous sapphires include the Rockefeller Sapphire, a 62.02 carat (ct) rectangular cut stone that was unearthed in Myanmar (Burma). Acquired in 1934 by financier and philanthropist John D. Rockefeller, Jr. (1874-1960) from an Indian maharajah, the gem was recut and reassembled over the years. The sapphire was first set as a brooch and then as a ring with two triangular side stones of diamond polished . Perhaps the best known sapphire in recent years is the 12-carat blue gem surrounded by diamonds in the sapphire engagement ring first worn by Princess Diana and then given by her son to Kate Middleton, now Duchess of Cambridge.
OCTOBER: TOURMALINE AND OPAL
MEANING AND HISTORY OF THE BIRTHSTONE OPAL
The name of this, the traditional birthstone of October, is believed to have originated in India (the origin of the first opals brought to the western world), where in Sanskrit it was called upala a "precious stone". In ancient Rome, this became opal . Most opals are valued for their changing colours in rainbow shades - a phenomenon known as "colour play".
The dramatic play of colours of the October birthstone has inspired writers to compare it to fireworks, galaxies and volcanoes. Bedouins believed the opal contained lightning and fell from the sky during storms. The ancient Greeks thought opals granted the gift of prophecy and protection from disease. Europeans for a long time held the opal as a symbol of purity, hope and truth. Hundreds of years ago, the opal was believed to embody the virtues and powers of all coloured stones.
Opal is also the stone given to commemorate the 14th wedding anniversary.
MEANING AND HISTORY OF BIRTHSTONE TOURMALINE
Tourmaline is October's newest birthstone. The name comes from the Sinhalese word toramalli, which means "stone with mixed colours", because it usually has several colours in one crystal. Very few gems match tourmaline's dazzling array of colours. Perhaps this is why ancient mystics believed that this October birthstone could inspire artistic expression - it has a palette of colours to suit all tastes. Among the most popular are pink and red rubellites, emerald green "chrome" tourmalines and neon green and blue to violet "Paraiba" tourmalines.
Due to its wide range of colours, the tourmaline was often confused with other precious stones. One of the "rubies" in Russian crown jewellery, the "Caesar's Ruby" pendant, is actually red tourmaline (rubellite). A Spanish conquistador found green tourmaline crystals in Brazil in 1500 and mistook the stones for emeralds. These and other cases of mistaken identity continued for centuries until scientists recognised tourmaline as a distinct mineral species in the 19th century.
NOVEMBER: TOPAZ AND CITRINE
November birthdays have two beautiful birthstones to choose from: topaz and citrine. Topaz comes in a rainbow of colours; citrine is valued for its lovely yellow and orange hues. Both November birthstones are known to have calming energies while bringing fortune and warmth to the wearer. Most topaz and citrine birthstones are affordable, as good quality gems are not as rare as many of their counterparts. This means that those born in November have plenty of options to choose from. Your challenge will be to decide which one to choose.
MEANING AND HISTORY OF THE BIRTHSTONE TOPAZ
The range of topaz shades includes colourless, light blue, yellow, orange, pink, violet, brown and, very rarely, red. The vast majority of blue topaz seen today is the permanent result of treating colourless topaz with irradiation and heating. The rainbow effect seen in "Mystic Topaz" is created by coating colourless topaz with a thin artificial film.
Some believe the word "topaz" comes from the Sanskrit word tapas which means "fire". Others go back to the Greek topaz.For a long time, the November birthstone was thought to bring many benefits. The ancient Greeks believed that topaz gave them strength. From 1300 to 1600, Europeans thought it could prevent magic spells and dispel anger. For centuries, many people in India believed that topaz worn above the heart ensures long life, beauty and intelligence.
The distinctively pinkish orange imperial topaz has aristocratic prestige. The name is believed to have originated from the Russian royal family's insistence on retaining the finest colours of this gem, which was mined in Russia's Ural Mountains exclusively for their use. An alternative explanation, especially popular in Brazil, is that it dates from an 1881 visit by the Brazilian emperor Pedro II to Ouro Preto - the city closest to Brazil's most productive topaz mines - and the gift of a reddish topaz to him.
MEANING AND HISTORY OF THE CITRINE BIRTHSTONE
November's birthstone is the clear yellow to brownish orange variety of quartz, which has been used in jewellery for thousands of years. Citrine has been a popular gemstone since ancient times and shared a history of mistaken identities with the other November birthstone, topaz. As a result, people thought that citrine had the same powers as topaz. They believed that the citrine stone could calm tempers and soothe the wearer.
The ancient Greeks carved rock crystal ornaments that sparkled like permafrost. Roman pontiffs wore rings with huge purple amethysts, and citrine was reported in Roman jewellery. It was particularly popular in colourful Scottish jewellery of the Victorian era. Citrine, believed to derive from the French word for "lemon" ( cider), is given for the thirteenth wedding anniversary.
Today, most of the citrine on the market results from the heat treatment of amethyst. With its ready availability in a wide range of sizes, citrine citrine stone is one of the most affordable and desired yellow gems.
DECEMBER: TURQUOISE, TANZANITE, ZIRCON
If you had to choose a December stone, which would it be: tanzanite, turquoise or zircon? From the blue to the bluish purple of tanzanite, to the intense blue and green of turquoise, to the rainbow varieties of zircon - there's a colour for everyone. If blue is what you're looking for, all three December birthstones have their own unique version of this favourite shade. Whatever your colour, style or budget preferences, we can help you choose the right December birthstone for you or a loved one.
MEANING AND HISTORY OF THE BIRTHSTONE TURQUOISE
Turquoise is a semi-translucent to opaque gemstone that varies from blue to green and usually has matrix veins (remnants of the rock in which it was formed) running through it. This December birthstone has been prized for millennia. Pharaohs and other rulers of ancient Egypt adorned themselves with it. Chinese craftsmen carved it over 3,000 years ago.
The turquoise stone was believed to possess many beneficial powers, such as ensuring health and good luck. From the 13th century, it was believed to protect the wearer from falling (especially from horses) and would break into several pieces as disaster approached. Hindu mystics claim that seeing a turquoise after gazing at the new moon guarantees fantastic wealth.
This turquoise stone also played an important role in Native American life. The Apache thought that turquoise could be found by following a rainbow to the end. They also believed that attaching the December birthstone to a bow or firearm made aiming more accurate. The Pueblo held that turquoise got its colour from the sky, while the Hopi thought the gem was produced by lizards flying overhead.
This December birthstone adorns the funerary mask of King Tut, who ruled Egypt over 3,000 years ago. It also appears in jewellery belonging to more modern royalty: Wallace Simpson (1896-1986), Duchess of Windsor (the woman for whom King Edward VIII gave up his throne), wore a famous amethyst and turquoise necklace made by Cartier. Turquoise is also the jewel of the 11th wedding anniversary .
In European tradition, the gift of a turquoise ring means "don't forget me". Turquoise is considered a national treasure in Tibet, where it is believed to grant health, good luck and protection from evil. The December birthstone also conveys peace to those who wear it.
MEANING AND HISTORY OF THE BIRTHSTONE TANZANITE
Tanzanite may be relatively new to the world of coloured stones, but it was one of the most exciting gem discoveries of the century XX. Blue stones emerging from Tanzania were identified as the mineral zoisite in 1962. It wasn't until 1967, however, that prospectors located the primary source for this December birthstone: the Merelani Hills. Eventually, it was named tanzanite after its country of origin. Tanzanite is often described as 'velvety', mainly because of its deep, saturated colour, which ranges from a pure, rich blue to violet, with blue being considered the most valuable.
Tiffany & Co. believed tanzanite had international appeal and became its main distributor. In 1968, Tiffany launched a major advertising campaign to promote it. With its bright colours, high clarity and potential for great cut stones, tanzanite quickly became a sensation. Today, it is not only a December birthstone, but also the jewel of the 24th wedding anniversary .
MEANING AND HISTORY OF ZIRCON BIRTHSTONE
The origins of the word " zirconium have provoked a colourful debate. Some scholars believe it comes from the Arabic word zarkun which means "cinnabar" or "vermilion". Others think the source is the Persian word zargun or "golden colour". Considering the wide palette of colours for this December birthstone - red, orange, yellow, brown, green and blue - any derivation seems possible. Colourless zircon is known for its lustre and flashes of multicoloured light, called fire, which have resulted in centuries of confusion with diamond.
During the Middle Ages, it was believed that this December birthstone lulled the person into a deep sleep and chased away 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.
The Victorians were fond of blue zircon. Fine specimens can be found in English estate jewellery from the 1880s.
SOURCE: GIA EDU