Traditionally, a birthstone is a gemstone that symbolizes or is associated with the month of a person’s birth. But for many people, the significance of the birthstone is much more. (To find out your birthstone click here or scroll down to see the birthstone chart below.)
Most gem scholars agree that the tradition of birthstones arose from the Breastplate of Aaron: a ceremonial religious garment set with twelve gemstones that represented the twelve tribes of Israel and also corresponded with the twelve months of the year. (The instructions for fabricating the Breastplate of the High Priest, or the Breastplate of Aaron, can be found in the Bible in Exodus 28: 15-30.)
For some, the wearing of a ring with one's birthstone is commonly thought to bring good luck or health. Others believe that supernatural powers can be attributed to certain gemstones. According to these legends, to achieve the full healing power of a gemstone, you were supposed to wear it during the assigned month. For the full effect, individuals needed to own all twelve stones and alternate them monthly. Whether you believe all that or not, one thing is certain: Rings with birthstones are a lot of fun ... and incredibly beautiful, too.
We like how Terri Ottaway, curator of the GIA Museum, describes our fascination with birthstones. She says birthstones are a "fun, popular and colorful area of gemology and resonate with all audiences regardless of gender, age, nationality or religion. The lore, origins, attributes and characteristics associated with various gems are educational and hold universal appeal for all of us."
What types of rings typically have birthstones?
Birthstones can be used in just about any ring that is designed to hold one or more stones. (Just because diamonds are the most commonly used stone, doesn't mean you can't set your favorite ring with a garnet or a sapphire or a topaz.) So, if you see a beautiful diamond ring design, but want it with your birthstone instead, go for it!
Probably the most common (and popular) ring that includes birthstones is a Mother's ring. Mother's rings are typically set with the birthstones of her children, but can be set with whatever combination of stones you want: Husband & wife, father, mother & their children, mother & daughters, mother & sons, mother, children & children's spouses. You are only limited by your creativity. Here at Puzzle Ring Emporium, we carry mother's puzzle rings with 4 bands (pictured left), 6 bands, or 8 bands. And with each ring, you have the flexibility to choose the number of stones you want. Click here to view our mother's puzzle rings.
Another popular ring design that can include your birthstone are fashion rings. There was a time when the term "fashion ring" referred to faux or fake rings, that were not made of genuine materials. But not anymore! Fashion rings today come in a variety designs and styles and 100% of our fashion designs, are made with pure 925 sterling silver, pure 10K, 14K, or 18K gold, or even platinum. There is nothing "faux" about our fashion rings! And as far as the stones go, many of our designs come with any of a number of unique "fashion" stones, such as the rhodochrosite (see image right), tigereye, pink coral, red jasper or malachite. But in many cases, we may be able to substitute the default stone for your birthstone instead. Just contact us and ask.
Although less common, birthstones can also be used in engagement or wedding rings. Consumers today are making more unconventional choices than ever before, sometimes choosing birthstones or other colored gemstones rather than a diamond for their engagement and wedding rings. It’s a personal choice.
Faceted or Cabochon?
By definition, facets are flat surfaces on geometric shapes. When a gemstone is referred to as "faceted", it means the stone has many flat, geometrically arranged, polished surfaces. A cabochon, on the other hand, is a gemstone which has been shaped and polished, but not faceted. Faceted birthstones include diamonds, rubies, emeralds, and sapphires. Examples of cabochon birthstones include opals, bloodstones and turquoise. When choosing the birthstones for a ring with more than one stone, it is a matter of personal preference whether you mix faceted stones with cabochon (smooth) stones.
What is my birthstone?
Birthstones are like belly buttons, we all have one! But why do some months have more than one birthstone? The truth is, no one knows for sure. Various traditions are often cited, but it may be that the most reasonable explanation is simply that some gemstones are just too rare and expensive for most people. By declaring more than one birthstone for certain months, wearers are afforded more reasonably priced options.
The following chart, compliments of the American Gem Society, lists the most commonly recognized birthstones for each month of the year. Below the chart we will go into more detail about each stone and why you might want to choose one over another for your birthstone.
January Birthstone (Garnet)
The Garnet is the January birthstone. The word garnet is from the word 'granatum', which means “seed.” It is called that because of the gemstone's resemblance to a pomegranate seed. References to the gemstone dates back to 3100 B.C., when the Egyptians used garnets as inlays jewelry. The garnet signifies eternal friendship and trust and is the perfect gift for a friend. Today, the most important sources for garnet are Africa, Sri Lanka, and India.
February Birthstone (Amethyst)
The Amethyst is the birthstone for February. In ancient times it was believed that the amethyst could ward off the intoxicating powers of Bacchus, the Roman god of wine. Bacchus was also know by the Greeks as Dionysus, the god of the grape harvest, winemaking and wine, of ritual madness and ecstasy in Greek mythology. It is said to keep the wearer clear-headed and quick-witted. Amethyst is purple quartz, a beautiful blend of violet and red that can found in every corner of the earth. Historically, the finest amethyst were found in Russia and were featured in much royal European jewelry. Today, Brazil is the primary source of this gemstone, but excellent gemstones can be found elsewhere as well.
March Birthstones (Aquamarine & Bloodstone)
March has two birthstones. The first, Aquamarine, is named after the Latin word aqua, meaning water, and marina, meaning the sea. This gemstone was believed to protect sailors, as well as to guarantee a safe voyage. The serene color of aquamarine is said to cool the temper, allowing the wearer to remain calm and levelheaded. Its pale, cool color beautifully complements spring and summer wardrobes. This gemstone is mined mainly in Brazil, but also is found in Nigeria, Madagascar, Zambia, Pakistan, and Mozambique.
The second birthstone for March is Bloodstone, a dark-green jasper flecked with vivid red spots of iron oxide. This ancient stone was used by the Babylonians to make seals and amulets and was believed to have healing powers — especially for blood disorders. It is sometimes called the martyr's stone. According to legend it was created when drops of Christ's blood stained some jasper at the foot of the cross. Generally found embedded in rocks or in riverbeds as pebbles, primary sources for this stone are India, Brazil, and Australia.
April Birthstone (Diamond)
Perhaps the most well-known of all gemstones, the Diamond is the April birthstone. Worldwide, diamonds have become the most sought-after gift for a loved one, with more choices now than ever. Considered by some to be the ultimate gift, diamonds are natural, rare and the truly exotic gems of the earth. For the majority of people, the most popular diamonds are transparent with no hue, or color, however diamonds come in a variety of hues, including of yellow, red, pink, blue, and green, and range in intensity from faint to vivid. It used to be that the more saturated the color, the higher the value, but these days most colored diamonds found in jewelry are irradiated and not outrageously expensive.
May Birthstone (Emerald)
May's birthstone, the Emerald, is a symbol of rebirth, and is believed to grant the owner foresight, good fortune, and youth. The Incas and Aztecs of South America, where the best emeralds are still found today, regarded the emerald as a holy gemstone. The name Emerald, derived from the Greek word 'smaragdus' via the Old French 'esmerelde', simply means green or green gemstone. Emeralds are fascinating and beautiful gemstones, having the most intense and radiant green imaginable. In top quality, fine emeralds are even more valuable than diamonds. Emeralds were mined in Egypt as early as 330 B.C., but today, most of the world’s emeralds are mined in Brazil, Colombia, Afghanistan and Zambia.
June Birthstones (Pearl, Alexandrite, & Moonstone)
June has three birthstones, the first being the Pearl. Pearls are unique in that they are organic gems, created when an oyster covers a foreign object with beautiful layers of nacre. Today most pearls are cultured by man. Shell beads are placed inside an oyster and the oyster is returned to the water. When the pearls are later harvested, the oyster has covered the bead with layers of nacre. Pearls are smooth gemstones and require no faceting or polishing to reveal their natural beauty. For centuries, pearls have been used as an adornment and were one of the favorite gem materials of the Roman Empire. Later in Tudor England, the 1500s were known as the pearl age.
The second June birthstone, the Alexandrite, is a relatively modern gem having first been discovered in Russia in 1831 during the reign of its namesake, Czar Alexander II. An intriguing feature of the alexandrite is its chameleon-like ability to change its color. Green or bluish-green in daylight, alexandrite turns a soft shade of red, purplish-red or raspberry red in incandescent light. This unique optical characteristic makes it one of the most valuable gemstones of all, especially in fine qualities, which can be extremely rare.
The Moonstone has become popular as the third June birthstone. It was given its name by the Roman natural historian Pliny, who wrote that moonstone's appearance altered with the phases of the moon — a belief that held until well after the sixteenth century. A phenomenal gemstone, moonstones exhibit an almost mysterious shimmer (called 'adularescence' in the industry), which makes the stone look different when it is moved, sometimes looking like a multi-rayed star and at other times a cat's eye. Considered in some cultures to be a holy stone, this gemstone is indeed surrounded by a good deal of mystique and magic. In India, moonstones are regarded as 'dream stones' which bring the wearer beautiful visions at night. In Arabic countries, women often wear moonstones sewn out of sight into their garments, in the belief that the moonstone is a symbol of fertility. Traditionally, the most prized moonstones have come from Sri Lanka, but they are found in India, Australia, the United States, Myanmar, and Madagascar.
July Birthstone (Ruby)
July's birthstone is the beautiful Ruby and, based on its red color, is associated with love and vivacity, passion and power. In the fascinating world of gemstones, the ruby is the undisputed ruler! There is no better way to demonstrate your love than by giving a ruby in celebration of a July birthday. Rubies have everything a precious stone should have: magnificent color, excellent hardness and outstanding brilliance. In addition to that, it is an extremely rare gemstone, especially in its finer qualities. Ruby is a variety of the gems species 'corundum'. It is harder than any natural gemstone except the diamond, which means a ruby is durable enough for everyday wear.
August Birthstone (Peridot & Spinel)
August has two birthstones, the second having been officially added just recently. The first is the Peridot, a very old—and popular—gemstone that forms deep inside the earth. It is so ancient that it can be found in Egyptian jewelry from the early 2nd millennium B.C. The vivid green of the peridot, with just a slight hint of gold, makes it a beautiful addition to a mother's ring, or any ring for that matter. Today, most of the peridot supply comes from Arizona; other sources are China, Myanmar, and Pakistan. The peridot is said to have magical powers and healing properties to protect against nightmares and to bring the wearer power, influence, and a wonderful year.
The second birthstone for August is the Spinel, which was added in June 2016 by the American Gem Trade Association and Jewelers of America to the official list of birthstones. The spinel, which is usually ruby red or dark pink in color, was often known as "the great imposter" of gems. It has been revered by gemstone enthusiasts since ancient times and for centuries masqueraded as a ruby in Europe’s crown jewels. It wasn’t until the late 18th century that gemologists developed the technology necessary to distinguish spinel from ruby, and it is the increasing demand for rubies that has spawned a boost in spinel's popularity. The spinel is generally found in Burma, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, Brazil, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Tanzania and a few other locations.
September Birthstone (Sapphire)
Sapphire, the September birthstone, has been popular since the Middle Ages and, according to folklore, will protect your loved ones from envy and harm. While sapphires exist in a wide variety of colors, the most popular color is blue, from the deep blue of the evening sky to the shining mid-blue of a summer's day. The sapphire symbolizes loyalty, but at the same time it gives expression to people's love and longing. That is one of the reasons why women in many countries wish for a sapphire gemstone on their engagement ring. Sapphires are found in India, Burma, Ceylon, Thailand, Vietnam, Australia, Brazil and Africa. The raw crystals are mined from deep in the ground and taken to the cutting-centers where skilled craftsmen turn them into sparkling gemstones. The sapphire is one of the most popular gemstones.
October Birthstones (Tourmaline & Opal)
If you were born in October, you get to choose between two beautiful birthstones: The tourmaline and the opal. The Tourmaline has become a favorite gemstone among jewelry designers and gem collectors the world over because it is available in a wide variety of colors. The reason, according to an old Egyptian legend, is that the tourmaline, on its long journey up from the center of the Earth, passed over a rainbow and in doing so, took on all the colors of the rainbow. That is why it is still referred to today as the 'gemstone of the rainbow'. The flexibility to choose just about any color makes October the "flex month" when it comes to mother's rings because it gives you the flexibility to choose any color that would look good with the other gems in your ring. Tourmaline is found in many localities including Brazil, Afghanistan, East Africa, and the USA.
The Opal is a very unique and popular gemstone and is one of only three birthstones that is smooth, as opposed to faceted. The name opal derives from the Greek 'Opallos', meaning "to see a change of color". The opal's shifting play of kaleidoscopic colors is unlike any other gem. All of nature's splendor seems to be reflected in this amazing gemstone. Opals are a formation of non-crystalline silica gel that seeped into crevices in the sedimentary strata. Through time and nature's heating and molding processes, the gel hardens into the form of an opal. Nearly ninety-five per cent of all fine opals come from the dry and remote outback deserts of Australia.
November Birthstones (Topaz & Citrine)
Like October, November also has two birthstones, the Topaz and the Citrine. The Topaz has been known for at least 2000 years and is one of the gemstones which formed the foundations of the twelve gates to the Holy City of the New Jerusalem. These so-called 'apocalyptic stones' are intended to serve as a protection against one's enemies. The topaz is reputed to make men handsome and intelligent and sterile women fertile and happy. However, it is probably better not to rely too much on its magical powers, since it was also claimed that you could immerse your hand in boiling water after a topaz had been thrown into it and retract it again unharmed. (Do not try this at home!) Often confused with citrine quartz (yellow) and smoky quartz (brown), quartz and topaz are two separate and unrelated gemstones. The color most commonly found in the topaz is yellow or yellow-brown.
The second birthstone for November, the Citrine, is known as the "healing quartz". The history of the citrine is closely interwoven with that of the topaz, even coinciding with the topaz's alleged powers. However, the citrine is a member of the large quartz family, with its multitude of colors and structures and despite what some people might say, is not a topaz at all. Citrine can be found in a variety of shades ranging from pastel yellow to dark brownish orange. It is one of the most affordable of gemstones and plentiful in nature. Citrine is found most frequently in Brazil, Bolivia, and Spain.
December Birthstones (Tanzanite, Zircon, Turquoise, & Blue Topaz)
December birthstones reflect the icy blue sparkle of winter are represented by FOUR birthstones. (No one knows for sure how it got to four, but we're not complaining; it just gives us more choices.) The first is Tanzanite, a modern and extraordinary gemstone discovered in the late 1960s that can be found in only one place in the world. You guessed it, Tanzania. Tanzanite exhibits a rich blue color, surrounded by a fine hint of purple, giving it the wonderful color for which the gemstone is treasured. Tanzanite, which can be less expensive than sapphire, it often purchased as an alternative to sapphire. However, it has increased in popularity so much that it is now valued more for its own beauty and brilliance than as a sapphire substitute.
The second December gemstone is the Zircon, not to be confused with cubic zirconium, which is something else entirely. Derived from the Arabic words 'zar' and 'gun', meaning gold and color, zircon is found in a wide range of colors such as: blue, yellow, orange, brown, green, colorless, and red. Colorless zircon is well known for its brilliance and flashes of multicolored light, called fire. These two zircon properties are close enough to the properties of diamonds to account for centuries of confusion between the two gems. Primary sources of zircon are the Chanthaburi area of Thailand, the Palin area of Cambodia, and the southern part of Vietnam.
The Turquoise is number three in our December countdown, a distinctive gemstone recognizable to pretty much everyone. It is one of the world’s most ancient gems. Rulers of ancient Egypt adorned themselves with turquoise jewelry and Chinese artisans were carving it more than 3,000 years ago. Turquoise is the national gem of Tibet, and has long been considered a stone that guarantees health, good fortune and protection from evil. The gem's name comes from the French expression 'pierre tourques', or Turkish stone. The name, which originated in the thirteenth century, reflects the fact that the material probably first arrived in Europe from Turkish sources. Turquoise varies in color from greenish blue, through robin's egg-blue, to sky blue shades, and its transparency ranges from translucent to opaque. It is plentiful and widely available.
The final birthstone for December is the "cool" Blue Topaz. Ancient civilizations thought the blue topaz to have a calm and cooling effect due to its beautiful range of delicate blue hues. Not only was it believed to cool boiling water when thrown into the pot, but to calm hot tempers as well! This gemstone was credited with many other healing powers, among them the ability to cure insanity, asthma, weak vision and insomnia. According to some in the industry, blue topaz has become the second most popular colored gemstone (sapphire is consistently number one). The blue topaz is found in Brazil, Siberia, Myanmar, Pakistan, the United States, Nigeria, and Sri Lanka.
Thinking about buying a Mother's ring? Make it a puzzle ring, too!
As you can tell from the information about birthstones provided above, buying a Mother's rings can be an adventure! Exploring and understanding more about the gemstones used in your (or your mom's) Mother's ring add to the excitement and increase the treasure. And when your Mother's ring is also a puzzle ring, well, that's a combination with which you can't go wrong! Click here to check out our Mother's puzzle rings.