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Birthstones: Month By Month History and Lore

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Birthstones: Month By Month History and Lore

Did you know that in addition to looking sparkly and elegant in a ring, necklace, or earrings, your birthstone actually has a history? And in some cases, birthstones are thought to be imbued with specific healing and protective qualities!

The Origin of Birthstones

While some sources such as 1st Century Roman-Jewish historian Josephus tell us birthstones originated on the breastplate of Aaron, with each representing the 12 months of the year and accruing 12 signs of the zodiac, others say the breastplate’s stones signified each of the 12 tribes of Israel. Eighth and 9th Century religious treaties were written associating particular stones with apostles. And while more modern accounts, including folklore, do not identify the breastplate or religious connections, some claim wearing one during its assigned month enhances its therapeutic properties.

Throughout history, accepted birthstones rotated in and out, with style and availability sometimes determining which stones would reign. In 1912, the National Association of Jewelers standardized the list, which was updated in 1952 by the Jewelry Industry Council of America. Among the changes were the addition of alexandrite to the month of June, citrine to November, pink tourmaline for October (pink was key), replacing alternate lapis with zircon in December, and switching around March’s primary and alternate gemstones of aquamarine and bloodstone. In 2002, tanzanite was added as a December stone.

What can your birthstone do for you?

January: The garnet is said to aid blood, heart, and lungs, and to promote love, passion, sensuality, and intimacy. The name “garnet” comes from the Latin word Garanatus, meaning seedlike, because the stones look similar to pomegranate seeds in size and color.

February: An amethyst reportedly aids in reduction of insomnia, arthritis, circulatory and pain issues. It is thought to promote peace, balance, courage, and inner strength.

March: Known to release fear, calm nerves, and foster mental clarity, aquamarine (in Latin, “aqua” means water and “marine” means sea) is said to protect sailors and other ocean voyagers. It is also said to aid the liver, throat, stomach, jaw, teeth, eyes, and ears. March’s alternate birthstone, the bloodstone, appropriately claims to have healing powers for blood disorders.

April: Those lucky enough to be born in the realm of the coveted diamond have many advantages. Called adamas by the ancient Greeks, which means invincible and indestructible, this gemstone symbolizes purity, perfection, and also authority. It is said to protect its owner from negative influences.

May: Associated with Venus, the Roman goddess of love and beauty, the emerald is said to protect lovers from infidelity. Enhanced memory, eyesight, and intelligence are also byproducts of this gemstone, as is its ability to cure inflammation of the eyes.

June: The pearl, identified for its calming properties, is said to promote purity, charity, integrity, truth, and loyalty in its bearer.

July: Integrity, devotion, and happiness are qualities associated with the ruby, which is also purported to aid the emotions.

August: With abundance and prosperity hallmarks of the peridot, this gemstone is said to heal relationship stress, lessen anger and jealousy, and slow the aging process. It’s the most mispronounced gemstone, as well. The correct pronunciation is actually per’i-dot however some dictionaries list the correct pronunciation as pear-a-doe.

September: Credited as the gemstone of creative expression, inner peace, and meditation, the sapphire is said to encourage pain relief and encourage personal expression.

October: Pink tourmaline is associated with the heart chakra in Hinduism and Buddhism, signifying unconditional love and compassion. It is said to release tension and improve hand-eye coordination, assuage dyslexia, as well as promote overall flexibility, happiness, objectivity, compassion, serenity, and tolerance.  The Opal also belongs to October. The name opal derives from the Greek Opallos, meaning “to see a change (of color).” Opals range in color from white to black, with flashes of yellow, orange, green, red, and blue. They are associated with faithfulness and confidence.

Bad luck? You may have heard that it’s bad luck to wear opals if they’re not your birthstone. But this is a myth, and most likely a rumor spread by jealous diamond traders who were worried about losing business when opals began gaining popularity in the 19th and 20th centuries. So enjoy its beauty!

November: Considered among the most powerful of gemstones, the topaz signifies emotional balance and gives protection from greed. November’s alternate, citrine, promotes increased hearing and fosters success, clarity of thought, and abundance.

December: Known as a healing and balancing stone, turquoise’s lore and traditions go back thousands of years. The Aztecs believed it was sacred and made masks and other adornments for ceremonial purposes. Many spiritual and supernatural beliefs have followed this stone.


1 alice morris { 04.05.19 at 12:15 pm }

Never liked November much

2 Susan Abernathy { 01.17.18 at 8:32 pm }

Sapphire comes in all colors but red, then it is a ruby. Light blue, dark blue, black, colorless, yellow, purple, lavender, green, orange, pink. Just not red, again, that is a ruby.

3 Katherine Byrne { 01.17.18 at 3:09 pm }

I love all the stones for there colour.As far as the medicinal properties they haven’t helped my back aches.Any suggestions.

4 Chris Jones { 07.07.17 at 10:55 pm }

My sister gave me an “aqua” shade ring . She told me there are different shades of sapphire…I thought it was suppose to be a dark blue
Miss Chris Jones

5 nicole { 10.12.15 at 10:44 am }

love this

6 MaryBeth Dueno { 08.02.15 at 12:23 am }

Go to Healing and you can learn about all the stones and crystal. There healing energies, birthstone meanings and are reasonably priced. I highly recommend this website. They can answer all your questions.

7 Sherrie { 08.02.15 at 12:05 am }

October is pink tourmaline, pink zircon and opal. December is your quotes, blue icon and blue topaz. June is alexandrite and pearl. Each month can have more than one according to who’s list you are looking at.

8 1968 Junes was still Alexandrite. Why the change? { 08.01.15 at 7:25 pm }

Whos idea was it to change the birthstones? I have all of my Alexandrite that was given to me on my birthdays. Iabsoletly love them. So why the change is it for religious or science reasons. Please reply.

9 MaikelC { 07.01.15 at 4:39 am }

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10 ryan { 01.03.15 at 4:58 am }

Bloodstone is associated with the blood of Jesus Christ that was let as he was being lashed in the square and bled onto the stones, before being crucified. His Mother tried in vain to clean his blood of the stone.

11 Barbara Wroblewski { 01.02.15 at 10:05 pm }

I was born in October, & always considered the Opal to be my birthstone. Why was it changed, & is there any folklore connected to the ‘Opal ‘ , which by the way, was associated with ‘Hope’?

12 Susan Higgins { 01.02.15 at 9:27 am }

Hi Margie, thank you, we have fixed the information!

13 Margie { 01.01.15 at 11:51 pm }

Very informative article, but I must say, an inaccuracy in the reference to Venus as a Greek goddess distracted me and deterred me from continuing to finish reading to the end. Aphrodite is the Greek goddess of love, and Venus is the Roman goddess of love.

14 Della May Richmond { 01.01.15 at 6:21 pm }

Alexandrite is also the birthstone for June it is deep teal in natural light yet fascia under incandescent light.

15 Della May Richmond { 01.01.15 at 6:18 pm }

June’s gemstone is also the rare alexandrite.

16 Raven { 01.01.15 at 3:54 pm }

depends if you are looking at previous or semi precious stones.

17 Diane Morris { 01.01.15 at 2:39 pm }

There a multiple gemstones for many months. The ones listed depend on the sources used. Some of the stone used now are also from newer discoveries. Alexandrites were discovered in Russia in the 19th century and were named for the Czar.

18 Ann { 01.01.15 at 12:00 pm }

Really made some changes…. Used to be Opal for October…… Other months also were changed! My, my, how things change……….

19 teresa { 01.01.15 at 11:56 am }

this is so cool , i read mine my kids and grandkids and it’s so right with us all love it

20 megan { 10.13.14 at 2:40 pm }

As others said, I too, always thought of October’s birthstone as opal. And another birthstone for August is sardonyx.

21 maggie sullivan { 10.13.14 at 8:56 am }

I would love some info. On opals for october seeing as how they are really the main birthstone for people born in that month

22 Blane { 10.12.14 at 4:30 pm }

The Blood Stone was the original birthstone for Aries, My understanding is that they had to convert to the Aquamarine because of the rarity of the Blood Stone. I have five of the faceted Blood Stones and will have one set in a man’s ring!!!

23 steven hayes { 10.11.14 at 8:26 pm }

I was born June fifteenth & my birthstone is Alexandrite, but it isn’t included.

24 lynn draves { 10.11.14 at 7:31 pm }

My true birth stone is a blood stone born in march ! , I don’t know much bout this stone < but I do Know aquamarine took its place ! because that stone is so Rare ! , can you give me some info on The Stone Please ?

25 Shawnee Papincak { 10.11.14 at 7:20 pm }

Nothing said about October begin Opal. I think your articular is a bit off !

26 michael { 10.11.14 at 6:26 pm }

June’s birthstone is also Moonstone

27 Eliza { 10.11.14 at 5:17 pm }

@Candice – you can buy them from

28 Catherine { 10.11.14 at 4:13 pm }

Stone folklore aside… Venus was the ROMAN goddess. Aphrodite was her Greek counterpart. Not sure which one you really meant in your emerald explanation.

29 Jeanette Papas { 10.11.14 at 3:55 pm }

I don’t agree with your article. I’m a Jeweler, I have practically every stone. None of them have helped me with pain, arthritis or problems with my Lungs.
Like it says and I do believe in it but it didn’t work for me.
It’s Folklore

30 LJ { 10.11.14 at 2:17 pm }

What about opal for October?

31 Jaime McLeod { 01.23.14 at 2:31 pm }

Bloodstone is a different thing from a ruby. Bloodstone is actually green with flecks of red.

32 Sam Chartier { 01.22.14 at 10:55 am }

So is the bloodstone also known as a ruby?

33 Jenny { 01.16.14 at 9:06 am }

I have been very ill on and off since November with lung and sinus issues. I had purchase some stones from a good friend who had “A” quality jade and carnelian. Once I got home from traveling I pulled to the stones out of the bags ans said, “These are not for sale, these are mine!. Once I finished wrapping all stones in copper wire I looked up the metaphysical properties. The jade deals with your internal system, the heart, the lungs, and internal organs. Carnelian protects your assets and helps you make fine better investment decisions as well as protects your money.Two things in my life I needed at that sickly time in my life. Now I wear my necklace and matching earrings in bed while I am sick. I don’t really know if these properties are true but these fabulous stones feel wonderful on my body and more than anything give me hope to heal and protect my investments as well as to keep me positive that I will overcome my weaken lungs and be back on top again financially and physically.

34 Rachel { 01.12.14 at 3:59 pm }

Interesting article. But I don’t feel “lucky” to be an April baby. While all my sibings and friends got actual birthstones, I got glass. I actually hate diamonds.

35 Candice { 01.12.14 at 9:49 am }

I been looking for these birth stones. Does anybody no were I can get them?

36 Marlena { 01.11.14 at 8:00 pm }

I believe you have to wear your birthstone to enjoy the benefits that the article mentions. How can your birthstone help you unless you have it on your person at all times? Of course there is no proof that these statements in the article are true so my theory may be all wrong.

37 C.K.J. Burns { 01.11.14 at 7:19 pm }

I find this very interesting whether it is folklore or not.I’m December and it say’s alot for Turquoise because everyone want’s a piece especially in jewlery.:)

38 Jessica D. { 09.12.13 at 5:13 pm }

Hmmm maybe I should start wearing my Ruby birthstone since I’m a July bday? Oh and folks, keep an open mind especially when it comes to FOLKLORE 🙂

39 Jaime McLeod { 01.30.13 at 1:42 pm }

150 – there is more than one birthstone for some months. Because opal is a mineral, the month also has tourmaline, a gemstone at its birthstone.

40 150 { 01.27.13 at 9:17 pm }

Octobers birthstone is opal the article does not mention this.

41 lynndraves { 01.27.13 at 5:58 pm }

very interesting !

42 Cherie { 01.14.13 at 4:38 am }

What a few of you forgot to remember as you were reading this is……………..The title!!

It clearly states that it is FOLKLORE.

have a blessed day

43 SA { 01.13.13 at 11:22 am }

For those who seem to think that a birthstone will prevent all ailments, as listed, that is a little bit short-sighted. The listing suggests a stone may help to reduce/prevent. May Help!!! These stones are no substitute for being fully responsible for your own health, such as looking at what you eat/drink/ or otherwise ingest. Are you purifying your system? Or are you toxifying your system? Ask yourself what can I do, or change, to prevent or cure myself of this or that ailment. Not this stone doesn’t work! It’s too simple. Take responsibility. Look at your habits, your family habits. Be honest with yourself and be responsible.

44 Rita { 01.12.13 at 6:46 pm }

So, does that mean one is “suppose” to wear the stone for the month, or that those born in the month should wear the stone during that month? ie, I am September,which is sapphire. Am I suppose to wear sapphire for September, or all year round. Or should I be wearing Turquoise in December, Pearl in June etc?
I typically do not wear any jewelry 🙂

45 Jacqueline { 01.10.13 at 2:50 pm }

I know for a fact that February is not true. I have arthritis, insomnia, circulatory, and pain issues!!!!!!!!

46 lilcajunann { 01.09.13 at 8:22 pm }

WOW, amazed at how true the stones appear to be. Especially April! Thanks for this info.

47 ann { 01.09.13 at 2:35 pm }

I do not agree with explanation of certain months. the people I know in August get angry and
October are uptight and heavy smokers.

48 Richard C Nash { 01.07.13 at 4:25 pm }

I found all this information on birthstones very informitive, and interesting, As I was unaware there was a history, to which stone had what meaning.. Thank you Old Farmer’s Almanac.. 🙂

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