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Know your birthstones

Birthstones are a wonderful gift for someone we hold dear to our heart, or indeed, a perfect memorial gift in memory of someone we cherish who is no longer with us.  A constant reminder of the love we hold for a family member or another special person in our lives.

 

Where did birthstones originate?

Birthstones are gemstones that are often set in jewellery such as necklaces, rings or bracelets.  Each birthstone represents a month, date, day of the week or zodiac sign.  It really depends on the type of birthstone chart or listing you are choosing to select. 

In the Western world, it is common to use a birthstone that represents a month in the Gregorian Calendar.  The Gregorian Calendar is the calendar used in the international standard for representation of dates and times.

Birthstone gems can be dated back to the Bible, in particular, Aaron and his Breastplate.  Often referred to as ‘Aaron the Priest’, he was the brother of Moses, a prophet and the first High Priest of the Israelites.

The Breastplate is said to be the origin of birthstones.  It held four rows of three precious stones – symbolising the 12 tribes of Israel.“There were twelve stones, one for each of the names of the sons of Israel, each engraved like a seal with the name of one of the twelve tribes.” (Exodus 28:17-20).

Today, the most definitive chart of astrological birthstones was created by the American National Association of Jewellers and was officially taken up in 1912.

Know your birthstone

January – Garnet

Garnet is said to bring love, luck, health, loyalty and friendship.  It is traditionally given as a gift on 2nd and 18th wedding anniversaries.

The Romans believed garnets protected the traveller.  If the garnet sparkled, it was said to be a sign of potential danger.

The ancient Chinese said that a red garnet signified a tiger’s soul that had transformed into a precious gem after the animal had passed away.

The zodiac stone for Aquarius – 21st January to 18th February

February – Amethyst

Amethyst is believed to induce peace, serenity and temperance.

It is the birthstone of February and this gem marks Valentine’s Day.  Saint Valentine was famed for wearing a beautiful amethyst ring, therefore the amethyst became the symbol of love.

It is also a traditional gift given on both 6th and 17th wedding anniversaries.

The zodiac stone for Pisces – 19th February to 20th March

March – Aquamarine

Aquamarine is the birthstone of March.  It is associated with good health, love, youthfulness and hope.  From pale to deep blue the colour ranges are reminiscent of the sea.

Sailors believe in its protection.

It was long thought that Aquamarine has a soothing influence on married couples, making it an excellent anniversary gift.

Another popular birthstone for March is the Bloodstone.

The zodiac stone for Aries – 21st March to 20th April

April – Diamond

Diamonds are often considered the ultimate gift and the symbol of eternal love. 

The term “diamonds are forever” is based on the belief that a diamond makes the bond between a couple hard to break.

The name diamond is derived from the Greek ‘adamas’, which means invincible. 

 

Formed one hundred miles beneath the Earth’s surface over a billion years ago, diamonds are the hardest gem of all.  The earliest description of diamonds date to the 4th century BC in India where it was first mined.

Traditionally diamond is accepted as the 10th and 60th wedding anniversary.

The zodiac stone for Taurus – 21st April to 21st May

May – Emerald

Emeralds, being the colour of green, is often associated with spring.  This has long symbolised love and rebirth.

Ancient Egyptian mummies were often buried with an emerald carved of verdure on their necks to symbolise eternal youth.

The zodiac stone for Gemini – 22nd May to 21st June

June – Pearl

Pearl is associated with chastity and modesty. It is said that a stable marriage is often the result of pearls.

Pearls have always been admired and even worshipped.  Persian mythology called them ‘the tears of the gods.’  A legend of the ancient Chinese is that the moon holds the power to create pearls, instilling them with its celestial glow and mystery.

Pearls are unique as they are the only gem formed within a living creature. Since natural pearls are rare, a technique was invented of culturing the salt and fresh water pearls from molluscs seeded with irritants similar to those produced by nature.

Another popular birthstone for June is the Alexandrite.

The zodiac stone for cancer – 22nd June to 22nd July

July – Ruby

Since ancient times, it is understood that a ruby could protect the wearer from evil.  Hence a ruby was often incorporated into jewellery worn by royals and nobles.  It was also understood to enhance the wearer’s decision-making powers!

In today’s society, the ruby is still said to help make crucial decisions.

The ruby has an important place in Hindu culture, relating to power and heat, calling it the king of precious stones and the leader of gems.

‘A drop of the heart’s blood of Mother Earth’ is how the ruby is described in the Orient.

The zodiac stone for Leo – 23rd July to 23rd August

August – Peridot

Peridot is a wonderful green gem that belongs to the olivine mineral family, with varying tones from yellow-green through to olive green.

It being a symbol of the sun, Peridot is believed to protect the wearer from the forces of darkness, bringing you peace and good fortune.

It is also the stone given to celebrate the 16th year of marriage.

Other popular birthstones for August are the Spinel and the Sardonyx.

The zodiac stone for Virgo – 24th August to22nd September

September – Sapphire

There is an ancient belief that people born in September benefit from mysterious powers – health, intelligence and truth. 

The sapphire has always been a gem popular amongst the rich and famous.  One of the most well-known pieces of sapphire jewellery is that given to Diana Spencer in 1981 by Prince Charles as an engagement ring.  The ring was passed to Kate Middleton, now Catherine, Princess of Wales by Prince William upon their engagement.

The sapphire still remains one of the most popular gems even today. The traditional sapphire wedding anniversary is the 45th anniversary.

The zodiac stone for Libra – 23rd September to 23rd October

October – Opal

The opal is believed to bring luck, health and love to its wearer. It is also said to be a stone of hope, with virtues of innocence and purity. 

Some people have described its appearance as gems of fireworks or galaxies – ‘Lights of the world’,  ‘Pandora’ or ‘Peacock gems’.

Another popular birthstone from October is the Tourmaline. 

The zodiac stone for Scorpio – 24th October to 22nd November

November – Topaz

Topaz is a symbol of love and affection and has said to help ones sweetness and disposition.

Topaz is known for its association with strength, tenacity, resilience and dedication, bringing a balance of emotions and thoughts for a harmonious lifestyle.

Crowns and rings worn by rulers, royals and dignitaries are often adorned with the topaz due to its perceived qualities. 

Topaz is the stone given to celebrate the 4th and 19th wedding anniversaries of marriage.

Other popular birthstones for November are the Golden Topaz and the Citrine.

The zodiac stone for Sagittarius – 23rd November to 21st December

December – Turquoise 

Turquoise is a French word meaning Turkish stone.  It is so called as it has a history that is traceable to the country called Turkey.

For over 7000 years Turquoise, the ‘Fallen Sky Stone’ hidden in Mother Earth, has been valued by cultures for its beauty and reputed spiritual and life-giving qualities.

Qualities like strength, sensitivity, and protection against evil have all been associated with the Turquoise gem. Some believed it gives power for wealth and success, while others agreed it fosters peace and good neighbourliness.

Turquoise is the stone given to celebrate the 5th and 11th wedding anniversary.

Other popular birthstones for December are the Blue Zircon, the Blue Topaz, the Tanzanite and the Lapis Lazuli.

The zodiac stone for Capricorn – 22nd December to 20th January

I hope I have given you some interesting reading about birthstones and their meanings.  Birthstones have been around since ancient times and traditionally linked to the Zodiac.  Nowadays, modern birthstones are linked to calendar months, with each month having its own birthstone.

Many people love to wear their birthstone as part of their jewellery collection.  Often using their own birthstone due to its ancient meanings.

However, more and more people of asking for the birthstones of a loved one they have lost.  Having the birthstone mounted in a special piece of jewellery, for example a ring or necklace brings them much comfort. Also being able to hold that piece of jewellery close gives the wearer a sense of continuous contact.

Footprints and Whispers is always available to help you decide which memorial keepsake would best suit you.

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