January – Red Garnet
The word "garnet" comes from the Latin word "granatus," meaning "grain" or "seed." This name was given to the garnet because of its close resemblance to the pomegranate seed. Garnet is relatively hard as indicated by the Moh's hardness 6.5 to 7.5 on the scale.
One Biblical legend is that Noah hung this gem on the ark to light his way through the dark and stormy nights of God's wrath. First mined in Sri Lanka over 2,500 years ago, the garnet is also found in Africa, Australia, India, Russia, South America, and in the United States. Although most commonly known as a red gemstone, the garnet comes in a variety of other hues.
A gift of garnet is thought to be symbolic of love and the desire for a loved one's safe travel and speedy homecoming.
February – Purple Amethyst
The ancient Greeks believed that this gemstone held many powers, among them protection against intoxication. The word Amethyst comes from the Greek word "amethystos," meaning sober. In ancient Greece, the gemstone was associated with the god of wine, and it was common practice to serve this beverage from Amethyst goblets in the belief that this would prevent overindulgence. Even today, Amethyst is considered a stabilizing force for those struggling to overcome addictive behaviors.
Amethyst is also symbolic of spirituality and piety. It has been used to ornament churches and crosses used in religious ceremony, and worn in rings and on rosaries by bishops and priests.
Once considered more valuable than diamonds, Amethyst is a member of the quartz family, occurring naturally as crystals within rocks. Deposits of this gemstone are found in Brazil, Canada, Australia, India, Madagascar, Namibia, Russia, Sri Lanka; and in the United States.
The gift of Amethyst is symbolic of protection and the power to overcome difficulty. It is said to strengthen the bond in a love relationship, so it is an ideal anniversary or engagement gem.
March - Aquamarine
Derived from the Roman word "Aqua," meaning water, and "mare," meaning sea, this pale blue gem does indeed resemble the color of seawater. The ancient Romans believed that the Aquamarine was sacred to Neptune, the god of the sea, having fallen from the jewel boxes of sirens and washed onto shore. Early sailors wore aquamarine talismans, engraved with the likeness of Neptune, as protection against dangers at sea.
The Aquamarine is a member of the beryl family. Beryl is a mineral that crystallizes within large grained igneous rocks on the earth's crust. It varies in color from clear to vibrantly colored gemstones such as the Emerald. Beryl was used as far back as 2,000 years ago to correct vision, and it continues to be used today in the manufacture of eyeglasses. It is a very hard mineral, making the Aquamarine a durable gemstone for use in jewelry.
Aquamarines, unlike other gemstones, are flawless. It is a relatively abundant gem, the largest deposits being in Brazil, but other sources of Aquamarine are in China, India, Australia, Africa, and the United States.
A gift of Aquamarine symbolizes both safety and security, especially within long standing relationships. Some people even say that the Aquamarine reawakens love in a tired marriage, so if you want to bring back that spark in your partner's eyes, you might consider this gem as an anniversary gift!
April - Diamond
The ancient Hindus called the Diamond "Vajra," meaning lightening, both because of the sparks of light thrown off by this gem as well as its invincible strength. The Diamond is harder than any other substance on earth.
Formed deep within the earth where there is intense heat and pressure, Diamonds are simply crystallized carbon. Volcanic activity of centuries ago brought these gemstones to the earth's surface, where they are found either within volcanic rock formations or washed out into rivers.
A gift of a Diamond is symbolic of everlasting love. There is no more convincing a promise of an enduring relationship than the brilliant gemstone that has endured in people's hearts throughout the ages.
May - Emerald
The Egyptians were known to engrave Emeralds with the symbol for foliage to represent eternal youth, and to bury these jewels with their dead. The ancient Romans associated this gemstone with fertility and rebirth, and dedicated it to Venus, the goddess of love and beauty.
The Ancient Egyptians mined Emeralds in the eastern desert region 2,000 years before Cleopatra’s birth, braving extreme heat, scorpions and snakes to search for the beautiful crystals. During Cleopatra’s reign, she claimed the Emerald mines as her own, as this was her favorite gem. She often wore lavish Emerald jewelry, and it is said that she bestowed visiting dignitaries with large Emeralds carved with her likeness when they departed Egypt.
The Emerald is a member of the beryl family of minerals. The green crystals grow slowly within metamorphic rocks and are restricted in size by the rock, making large Emeralds rare and costly. Although this gemstone is relatively hard and durable, it must be protected from blows because the inclusions found within make it susceptible to breaking.
Some people believe that wearing an Emerald brings wisdom, growth, and patience. And as any couple in a long-term relationship would agree, all of these qualities are essential for a successful and lasting love. This may explain why a gift of Emerald for an anniversary -- or anytime -- is considered symbolic of love and fidelity.
June - Pearl
Ancient civilizations had many stories to explain the origin of June's birthstone, such as the Greek belief that pearls were the hardened tears of joy that the goddess of love shook from her eyes as she was born from the sea. According to Arab legend, pearls were formed when oysters were lured from the depths of the ocean by the beautiful moon and then swallowed moonlit dewdrops. And the Ancient Chinese thought that these gems originated from the brains of dragons.
Pearls have been a passion and even an obsession of people throughout the ages. They have been ground up and used in cosmetics and as a medicine to treat heart and stomach conditions. Some cultures swear by pearls as an aphrodisiac. These gems have adorned crowns, clothing, and temples, and were said to be a favorite of Cleopatra.
Only those with royal status once wore pearl jewelry, but eventually these gems were seen among all classes of people. They continue to be viewed as a mark of taste and refinement as well as a symbol of purity, and they are often given to celebrate a marriage or the birth of a child. Pearls are nature's perfect gift, suitable for all ages, and elegantly worn with everything from jeans to an evening gown.
July - Ruby
Called the "Rajnapura" or King of Gems by ancient Hindus, July's birthstone is among the most highly prized of gems throughout history. The Ruby was considered to have magical powers, and was worn by royalty as a talisman against evil. It was thought to grow darker when peril was imminent, and to return to its original color once danger was past—provided it was in the hands of its rightful owner!
The word Ruby comes from the Latin "ruber," meaning red. It is a variety of the mineral Corundum, and is found as crystals within metamorphic rock. Corundum is the second hardest mineral, after Diamond.
The history of Ruby mining dates back more than 2,500 years ago. The most beautiful crystals are thought to be from Burma, but quality Rubies are also found in India, Sri Lanka, Australia, Kenya, Tanzania, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and the United States.
It has been said that the Ruby's red glow comes from an internal flame that cannot be extinguished, making a gift of this stone symbolic of everlasting love. With its hardness and durability, it is a perfect engagement gem. And if worn on the left hand, ancient lore has it that the Ruby will bring good fortune to its wearer, too!
August - Peridot
Throughout history, August's birthstone has been used as a means to connect with nature. Early Egyptian priests drank a stimulating beverage called Soma from cups made of Peridot, believing this practice to draw them closer to Isis, the goddess of nature.
The name Peridot comes from the Arabic word "faridat," meaning gem. Ancient Egyptians called them the "gem of the sun," because of their dazzling brilliance when seen in the desert sun. It was believed that the Peridot glowed with light even as darkness fell which is why miners were said to have scouted for these gems during the night, marking their location, and returning in the light of day to retrieve them. Perhaps this legendary mining method is the reason that the Peridot is sometimes called "evening emerald."
Peridot is a mineral named Olivine, which is found in a variety of greens, ranging from light yellowish green to a dark olive. Early mining for this gem was done on Saint John's Island near Egypt around 1500 BC. The green crystal was considered protective against evil and when set in gold, especially helpful against night terrors. It was ground to powder and used as a remedy for asthma and as a cure for thirst brought on by fever. Today, Peridot is mined in Burma, Norway, Brazil, Australia, Hawaii, the Congo, and in Arizona.
The force of nature is alive within a Peridot, making a gift of this gemstone symbolic of vitality. It signifies strength, both individual and within a relationship, as well as the promise of new growth in years ahead.
September - Sapphire
Ancient civilizations believed that the world was set upon an enormous sapphire, which painted the sky blue with its reflection. This legend, as well as the belief that the ten commandments were inscribed upon tablets made of sapphire, gives September’s birthstone a royal place among gemstones.
Named after the Greek word "sapphirus", meaning blue, Sapphires have long been a favorite among priests and kings, who considered them symbolic of wisdom and purity. These gemstones are prominent among the British Crown Jewels, and Prince Charles chose this as the engagement stone for his fiancée, Princess Diana.
Sapphire is a variety of the mineral corundum. Corundum is found in every color of the rainbow, with red being designated as ruby and all other hues Sapphire. But the most prized color of Sapphire is a rich, deep blue. These gemstones were mined as early as the 7th Century BC from India and what is now Sri Lanka. They are found today in Sri Lanka, Kashmir, Myanmar, Thailand, Australia, Nigeria, Kenya, Tanzania, China, Madagascar, and the United States.
The Sapphire is second only to the Diamond in hardness, making it a durable gemstone for setting into jewelry. A gift of Sapphire represents sincerity and faithfulness. As nourishing to the soul as gazing up at the sky on a summer day, this brilliant blue gemstone is truly a heavenly choice!
October - Opal
The Opal derives its name from the Latin word "opalus," meaning precious jewel. Prized for its unique ability to refract and reflect specific wavelengths of light, the Opal was called "Cupid Paederos" by the Romans, meaning a child beautiful as love.
Ancient monarchs treasured Opals, both for their beauty and for their presumed protective powers. They were set into crowns and worn in necklaces to ward off evil and to protect the eyesight. These gemstones were also ground and ingested for their healing properties and to ward off nightmares.
The Opal dates back to prehistoric times. It is a non-crystallized silica, which is a mineral found near the earth's surface in areas where ancient geothermal hot springs once existed. As the hot springs dried up, layers of the silica, combined with water, were deposited into the cracks and cavities of the bedrock, forming Opal. This gemstone actually contains up to 30% water, so it must be protected from heat or harsh chemicals, both of which will cause drying and may lead to cracking and loss of iridescence. Opal must also be guarded from blows, since it is relatively soft and breaks easily.
Most of the world's Opal deposits are found in Southern Australia. Other sources of this gemstone are Brazil, Mexico, Czechoslovakia and Nevada. Quality Opal is very expensive, made more so by the caution that must be exercised in cutting, polishing and setting it into jewelry.
A gift of Opal is symbolic of faithfulness and confidence. And the powerful energy radiating from this fiery gemstone will surely illuminate any occasion!
November - Citrine
The name Citrine comes from an old French word, "citrin", meaning lemon. One of the more rare forms of quartz, this gemstone ranges in color from the palest yellow to a dark amber named Madeira because of its resemblance to the red wine.
Sister stone to the purple quartz known as Amethyst, Citrine crystals are found in igneous metamorphic and sedimentary rocks. It is believed that some Citrine may have actually begun as Amethyst, but heat from nearby molten rock changed it to the yellow form of quartz. Citrine is known to change color when subjected to heat and is routinely heated in the jewelry-making process to intensify its color. Most Citrine is mined in Brazil, but other sources of the quartz are Bolivia and Madagascar.
A gift of Citrine is symbolic for hope and strength. With its sunny brightness, this gemstone is ideal for helping anyone to get through the tough times in life!
December – Blue Topaz
Blue Topaz was considered by ancient civilizations to have cooling properties. 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. The Blue Topaz was even thought to have magical properties in its ability to make its wearer invisible in a threatening situation.
Blue Topaz is the hardest of the silicate minerals. While pure Topaz is colorless, minor changes of elements within the stone result in a variety of other colors, such as blue, pale green, red, yellow and pink.
Topaz is found primarily in Brazil, Nigeria, Sri Lanka, Mexico, Pakistan, China, and the United States.
A gift of Blue Topaz is symbolic of love and fidelity. Luckily, this cool blue gemstone has no legendary power to put out the burning flame of love!