Birthstones are tied to many traditions and belief systems. They likely originate from the high priest Aaron’s breastplate in the Book of Exodus in the Bible. This magnificent breastplate displayed 12 jewels engraved with the names of the 12 tribes of Israel. Today, these jewels correspond to the months in a year and the number of zodiac signs.
The custom of wearing a gemstone in correspondence with the month is rather recent: It started in 16th-century Poland. Later, in 1870, Tiffany & Co. globalized this practice by launching a gifting campaign that matched each birthstone to a different month. Nevertheless, there are still historical and mythical underpinnings of birthstones. Our birthstone chart is here to educate you on your designated gemstone and inspire your next purchase of sentimental and beautifully colored jewelry.
January Birthstone: Garnet
Garnet is January’s birthstone. The name “garnet” stems from the Latin word granatus, meaning grain or seeds. This is likely because of garnet’s association with red pomegranate seeds. Many people think of garnet solely as a deep red color gemstone, but garnets actually consist of several species in a wide variety of colors. An example is tsavorite garnet, a gorgeous green gemstone. Garnet is a symbol of good health, friendship, and commitment. In Greek mythology, it is also regarded as protecting the wearer during travel and ensuring their safe return home. This gemstone belongs to Capricorn and Aquarius. Garnet is also the traditional gift for a second wedding anniversary.
February Birthstone: Amethyst
The birthstone for February is amethyst. Amethyst has a lovely purple hue and is relatively affordable. This means you can find pieces of amethyst jewelry with significant stones. The word amethystos means “not drunk” in ancient Greek, hence the legend that wearing amethyst wards off drunkenness. Amethyst is a symbol of inner strength, peace, and clarity. Perhaps that’s why it is a favorite among royal families. For instance, the Duchess of Windsor’s Cartier Bib Necklace features five rows of stunning amethyst, each surrounded by turquoise borders and diamond accents. The purple gemstone belongs to Aquarius and Pisces. Amethyst is the traditional gift for a sixth wedding anniversary.
March Birthstone: Aquamarine
Beautiful blue aquamarine is the birthstone for March. Aquamarine is a crystal-clear, pale blue gemstone that can come in large sizes. Aquamarine is appropriately connected to Pisces and Aquarius, both of which are water signs. Designers frequently use it in ocean-inspired pieces. A famous example is Queen Elizabeth’s Aquamarine Tiara. The blue gemstone is a symbol of wisdom, purity, and everlasting youth. It is the traditional gift for a 19th wedding anniversary.
April Birthstone: Diamond
Those lucky enough to be born in April, namely the Aries and Taurus zodiac signs, have diamond as their birthstone. Naturally, it’s easy to find beautiful diamond jewelry at all prices. Diamond symbolizes love and marriage, inspiring the tradition of diamond engagement rings. In the Middle Ages, it was believed to have healing powers. For example, sleeping with a heated diamond was a common medical practice intended to draw out the toxins in the body. Modern medicine tells us that there’s no evidence behind this claim. Wearing diamonds certainly can’t hurt, though.
May Birthstone: Emerald
Emerald is May’s birthstone. Gorgeous green emeralds are some of the most sought-after gems on the market today. Its popularity dates back to ancient times; Cleopatra’s favorite gemstone was emerald. A Roman author once wrote that emeralds have therapeutic properties. He elaborated that emerald’s soft green color has a soothing effect on the eyes. Today, there is scientific evidence that the color green relieves pain and headaches. Legend also tells us that emerald has the power to increase the wearer’s intelligence and quick-wittedness. It appropriately belongs to Gemini, known as the intellectual zodiac sign, as well as Taurus. It is the traditional gift for a 20th or 45th wedding anniversary.
June Birthstones: Pearl, Moonstone, and Alexandrite
Pearl is the traditional birthstone for June, but moonstone and alexandrite are also June birthstones. A delicate pearl necklace or a pearl ring is a lovely birthstone gift for June. Pearls are a symbol of humility and innocence. In the ancient Middle East, pearls were believed to be teardrops from the heavens. There is also a myth that pearls promise the wearer longevity. Moonstone is also pretty, with its luminous blue color. Alexandrite is special and rare — and very expensive for top-quality stones. These birthstones belong to Gemini and Cancer. Pearls hold a special significance for a 30th wedding anniversary.
July Birthstone: Ruby
July’s birthstone is radiant ruby. This rich, red gemstone is one of the “big three” gemstones and has been coveted by royalty for centuries. Ruby is associated with power and wealth and is said to help the wearer succeed in business ventures. Often conflated with garnet, ruby has similar mystical qualities, such as protection. The fire-red gemstone falls under Cancer and Leo, both regarded as passionate and strong-willed zodiac signs. Ruby is a traditional gift for a 40th wedding anniversary.
August Birthstone: Peridot and Spinel
Peridot and spinel are the birthstones for August, belonging to Leo and Virgo. Spinels come in a wide variety of colors, while peridot has a brilliant, lime-green hue. Red spinels are a popular alternative to high-in-demand rubies because of their similar appearance and more affordable price points. Peridot has also long been mistaken for emerald or topaz due to its green hue — a mistake especially common before the advent of gemological testing. For example, peridot was mislabeled as topaz when it was first discovered at the Red Sea island of Topazios, ironically where the name “topaz” derives from. The greenish-yellow gemstone is believed to balance the mind and body of the wearer and, in particular, aid with sleeping conditions. Peridot is the traditional gift for a 16th wedding anniversary.
September Birthstone: Sapphire
The birthstone for September is sapphire. Blue is the most valuable color for sapphire, but it comes in a range of colors, too. In ancient Rome and Greece, the elite wore blue sapphires to ward off others’ envy. Medieval Europeans used sapphires to treat ailments such as boils, eye diseases, and poisoning. Perhaps the most famous piece of sapphire jewelry is Princess Diana’s 12-carat blue gemstone engagement ring, later given to the current Duchess of Cambridge. Sapphire belongs to Virgo and Libra. It holds a special significance for a 45th wedding anniversary.
October Birthstones: Opal and Tourmaline
October has two birthstones: opal and tourmaline. Opal comes in several colors, including white, blue, orange, red, and black. Tourmaline is a gorgeous gemstone that also comes in various colors. In fact, the name stems from the Sinhalese word toramalli, which means “stone with mixed colors,” because tourmaline often contains multiple colors in one gemstone. While only one color is usually visible in tourmaline, opal famously shifts hues in rainbow colors, a phenomenon called “play-of-color.” Opals were first discovered in India, and the Sanskrit word upala means “precious stone.” It is a symbol of hope and fidelity. Both gemstones belong to Libra and Scorpio. Opal is the traditional gift for a 14th wedding anniversary.
November Birthstones: Topaz and Citrine
November’s two birthstones are topaz and citrine. Topaz comes in a range of colors but is primarily known for its blue hue. Citrine, on the other hand, is famous for its lovely orange and yellow tones, making it the perfect birthstone for fall. The name citrine hails from the French word citron, or lemon. Both gemstones have a reputation for calming the wearer and promising good fortune. They belong to Scorpio and Sagittarius. Blue topaz is the traditional gift for a fourth wedding anniversary, whereas citrine holds a special significance for a 13th wedding anniversary.
December Birthstones: Turquoise and Tanzanite
Beautiful blue turquoise and tanzanite are December’s birthstones. Turquoise is an opaque greenish-blue gemstone revered for its brilliant color. Tanzanite is a unique violet-blue gemstone found only in Tanzania. Tiffany & Co. recognized the alluring beauty of tanzanite and was the first jeweler to use tanzanite commercially in a piece after it was discovered in the 1960s. One notable tanzanite gemstone is called the Queen of Kilimanjaro, set into a cobra-inspired tiara owned by former Apple president Michael Scott. These gemstones belong to the zodiac signs Sagittarius and Capricorn. Tanzanite is the traditional gift for a 24th wedding anniversary, while turquoise commemorates an 11th wedding anniversary.