Like geological good luck charms, each month of the year has been assigned a precious stone or gem, called a birthstone. This tradition of birthstones dates back to ancient civilizations, where the twelve signs of the zodiac were each associated with a particular gem.
Though the gemstones are now linked to months rather than astrological signs, the tradition and superstition still stands. Find your birth month below to discover the significance of your lucky stone!
If you were born in January, your birthstone is the garnet. Garnets are typically a deep red, and due to their color and shape, the Greeks named the garnet after the seeds of a pomegranate (a granatum)!
Are you a February baby? Your birthstone is the amethyst. The deep purple color of amethysts come from traces of iron and radiation. In ancient times, this special coloring made them more valuable than diamonds, especially among British and Egyptian royalty.
Do you celebrate your birthday in March? You’re linked with the aquamarine. The beautiful sea blue and green colors of this gemstone made sailors believe it was a precious treasure of mermaids. They even wore amulets with the stone to keep them safe at sea.
If you were born in April, you’re a diamond in the rough! The diamond is the hardest mineral in the world. It’s lustrous, bright, and resistant to dulling or scratching.
Diamonds are formed in Earth’s mantle, 87-118 miles underground. Most diamonds are slightly yellow to brown, dude to nitrogen impurities and other defects, but pure diamonds are colorless.
May birthdays are linked with emeralds. Famed for their deep green color, emeralds have been one of the most valued gemstones since they were first mined in Egypt in 1300 BCE. Cleopatra loved emeralds, which were a symbol of fertility and life in ancient Egypt.
June babies have the world as their oyster – they’re linked with pearls, one of the most desirable organic minerals. Made inside the shells of mollusks, pearls grow in layers around a small piece of grit or other foreign particle. The Pearl of Lao Tzu is the largest pearl ever found and weighs 14 pounds!
July is the month of the ruby, one of the four gems in the world that qualify for the elite category of “Precious Gems.” (The others are diamonds, sapphires, and emeralds).
Rubies know what’s coming – in the Middle Ages, they were thought to predict oncoming danger if they turned a darker color!
Late summer August babies are linked with the Peridot, a glassy green crystal formed deep inside the earth’s crust that appears when there’s volcanic activity. In Hawaii, it’s said that the Peridot symbolizes the tears of Pele, goddess of volcanoes and fire.
September birthdays are strong ones – their birthstone, the sapphire, can only be scratched by a diamond or another sapphire. The most common color of sapphires is blue, but pink sapphires can also be found. Many cultures have attributed mystical powers to sapphires, believing that they protect wearers from evil, cure eye diseases, and symbolize nobility and faithfulness.
October is for the opal! It’s a precious stone made from hardened silica gel. Even though it’s not a true mineral, its swirling colors and pearly sheen have been prized since ancient times. The most prized form of the opal is the fire opal.
The largest and most valuable opal ever found is called the Olympic Australis, and it’s as big as a loaf of bread!
November’s birthstone is citrine, and it’s special because there aren’t many yellow gemstones! (Diamonds or sapphires may have a yellow color, but they’ll be very rare and expensive.)
On top of this unique property, the citrine’s yellow color is thought to radiate positive energy and promote prosperity.
The last month of the year is still amongst the very best! December birthdays are linked with turquoise. Considered to be one of the oldest known stones in human history, turquoise has been a cherished and precious stone across ancient and modern cultures, and is thought to be a holy stone that protects people from evil. The Aztecs believed the stone was sacred, and they used it for masks and during ceremonies.
What's the difference between a rock and a gem? What makes the Hope Diamond so special? Why are some minerals fluorescent? Dig deep to find the answers in The Rock and Gem Book. Filled with over 1,200 stunning full-color photographs, it's the perfect encyclopedia for young geologists to consult.
Image credits: Turquoise, garnet: Dorling Kindersley: Ruth Jenkinson / Holts Gems, Pearl: 123RF: Laurent Renault / 123rf, Diamond, Citrine, Emerald: Dorling Kindersley: Tim Parmenter / Natural History Museum, London