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Learn The Birthstones That Make Each Month Sparkle

3 gemstones, green filter.

Birthstones are precious or semiprecious gemstones that are associated with a particular month or sign of the Zodiac. Going back to ancient times, certain gems were believed to bring good fortune if worn during specific months. The origin of this belief is often traced back to the story of the Breastplate of Aaron in the book of Exodus from the Bible. The legendary breastplate was said to be decorated with 12 differently colored gems.

The breastplate inspired the original lists of birthstones that would change over the many following centuries. In 1912, the American National Retail Jeweler’s Association would popularize the word birthstone after making an “official” list of birthstones that is still used today with new additions to it. Modern lists often have multiple birthstones tied to certain months.

All of that being said, you might be curious as to what your birthstone is and which gemstone goes with each month. We’ve gathered up a—sadly, metaphorical—treasure trove of gemstones along with some details about each one.

💎Birthstones chart

Month Birthstone
January Garnet
February Amethyst
March Aquamarine, Bloodstone
April Diamond, Rock Crystal
May Emerald, Chrysoprase
June Pearl, Alexandrite, Moonstone
July Ruby, Carnelian, Onyx
August Peridot, Spinel, Sardonyx
September Sapphire
October Opal, Tourmaline
November Topaz, Citrine
December Turquoise, Blue Zircon, Tanzanite, Lapis Lazuli

Find out if you’re already a rockstar on birthstones by taking this quiz.

January | garnet

 

  • Garnets are a group of minerals commonly found in certain types of sedimentary and igneous rocks. The name garnet is most often used to specifically refer to red minerals used as semiprecious gemstones.
  • Garnets come in many different colors, but dark red garnets are the ones most often used as birthstones.

The word garnet originally comes from the Latin word grānātum, meaning “granular.” This word was specifically referring to the shape of the red seeds found in a pomegranate, which resemble red garnets.

February | amethyst

 

  • Amethyst is a variety of purple quartz. The intensity of amethyst’s color (and thus its value) depends on how much iron is in the amethyst when it crystallizes.
  • Amethysts come in different shades of purple.

The word amethyst comes from the Greek améthystos, meaning “not intoxicating.” Its name comes from many ancient legends and superstitions that claimed wearing an amethyst would prevent drunkenness.

March | aquamarine, bloodstone

aquamarine

 

  • Aquamarine is a blue or greenish-blue variety of the mineral beryl used as a semiprecious gemstone. Aquamarine crystals typically form in hot, open spaces underground that have a good supply of space and beryllium.
  • Aquamarines are usually pale or light blue in color.
  • Aquamarine’s name comes from the Latin aqua marīna, meaning “sea water.” The name is a reference to aquamarine’s blue color.

bloodstone

 

  • Bloodstone, also known as heliotrope, is a green variety of the mineral chalcedony with spots of jasper scattered across it. It is considered to be a semiprecious gemstone.
  • Bloodstone gemstones are usually dark green with dabs of red.

Bloodstone is a combination of the words blood and stone. Bloodstone features spots of red jasper that resemble blood drops or blood splatter.

April | diamond, rock crystal

diamond

 

  • A diamond is an extremely hard form of carbon which is considered a precious gem. Diamonds form underground when carbon is exposed to extreme amounts of pressure and heat.
  • Diamonds come in many different colors, but colorless or clear diamonds are the ones most preferred as gems.

The word diamond is thought to come from the Latin adamas, meaning “hard metal.” Diamond’s name was inspired by its famous hardness and shares an origin with the word adamant, an adjective that can accurately describe a diamond.

Diamonds are one of the most culturally significant gems, including in slang like diamond hands. Learn what that means here.

rock crystal

 

  • Rock crystal is a transparent variety of quartz. Quartz is one of the most common minerals, and it is naturally colorless. Quartz will change colors if the crystal has impurities.
  • Rock crystal is colorless and transparent.

Rock crystal’s name is simply a combination of the words rock and crystalRock crystal is a crystal of quartz, a mineral that is commonly found in rocks.

May | emerald, chrysoprase

emerald

 

  • An emerald is a green variety of beryl that is considered a precious gem. The green color of emeralds is caused by chromium mixing with the beryllium needed to form beryl. Beryllium and chromium are rarely found in significant amounts in the same place, which is why emeralds are so rare and valuable.
  • Emeralds have a rich green color. The intensity of the green color is a major factor of determining an emerald’s value.

The word emerald comes through Old French from the Greek word smáragdos, which means “green gem.”

chrysoprase

 

  • Chrysoprase is a green variety of chalcedony, which is yet another type of quartz. Unlike emeralds, chrysoprase’s green color comes from nickel rather than chromium.
  • Chrysoprase comes in different shades of green.

The name chrysoprase comes from the Greek khrusoprasos, which translates to “golden leek.” Chrysoprase is a gem (“golden”) that is green (like a leek).

June | pearl, alexandrite, moonstone

pearl

 

  • Unlike all other gemstones, pearls are made by animals, specifically mollusks. Pearls are formed when a mollusk is irritated by something in its shell and secretes substances onto it. Over time, the secretion layers will build up to form a pearl.
  • Pearls come in many colors, but usually white or cream-colored pearls are used in jewelry.

The word pearl can be traced back to the Latin perna, meaning “sea mussel.”

alexandrite

 

  • Alexandrite is a rare variety of the mineral chrysoberyl. Similarly to emeralds, alexandrite is formed when chromium mixes with beryllium and aluminum. Because this rarely happens, alexandrite is extremely rare and valuable.
  • Alexandrite is famous for its ability to change color from bluish green to purplish red under different types of light.

Alexandrite is named after Czar Alexander II of Russia.

moonstone

 

  • Moonstone gems are a variety of adularia, which is a type of the mineral feldspar. Moonstone is formed from minerals mixing together and layering on top of each other.
  • Moonstone is colorless but is famous for its adularescence, its ability to “shine blue.” This effect is caused by the mineral layers of the moonstone refracting light.

Moonstone is a combination of the words moon and stone. Moonstone was said to resemble the moon, and many legends claimed it either came from the moon or had magical abilities linked to the moon.

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July | ruby, carnelian, onyx

ruby

 

  • A ruby is a precious gem that is a red variety of the mineral corundum. A ruby’s red color is caused by chromium mixing with the corundum.
  • Rubies come in different shades of red. Pure red rubies are considered the most valuable.

The word ruby comes from the Medieval Latin rubīnus, meaning “red.”

carnelian

 

  • Carnelian or cornelian is a type of chalcedony that is considered a semiprecious gemstone. Carnelian’s red or orange color comes from iron oxide. Carnelian gemstones are often heated or dyed in order to change their colors.
  • Carnelians come in different shades of red, orange, or brown.

The various spellings of carnelian/cornelian are thought to come from the Old French word cornele, meaning “cherry,” in reference to the gem’s reddish color.

onyx

 

  • Onyx is another type of chalcedony considered to be a semiprecious gemstone. Onyx is a layered chalcedony that is formed from quartz being heated by lava.
  • Onyx comes in different colors but black onyx is used as a July birthstone.

The word onyx comes from the Greek ónyx, meaning “nail” or “claw.” The white or flesh-colored bands found in onyx can make the stone appear like a fingernail.

August | peridot, sardonyx, spinel

peridot

 

  • Peridot is a green variety of the mineral olivine. Olivine crystals form deep in the Earth’s mantle and are typically brought to the surface via volcanoes.
  • Peridot gemstones have a lime green color.

The exact origins of the name peridot are unknown, but it can be traced to the French French péridot, a name for a “green gem.”

sardonyx

 

  • Sardonyx is another type of chalcedony. It is formed by layering of sard and onyx, which explains the name.
  • The color of sardonyx depends on the sard and onyx within it. Sard comes in shades of yellowish-red or reddish-brown, and the bands of onyx are usually white in color.

The name sardonyx is a combination of sard and onyx, the two types of chalcedony that combine to make it.

spinel

 

  • Spinel is both the name of a group of minerals and a gemstone made from a particular type of spinel. Spinel is often more resistant to erosion than the rock around it, so spinel crystals are often gathered up in flowing water and deposited in places where miners will eventually find them.
  • Spinel comes in many colors, but red or pink spinel are the colors used for birthstones

The word spinel can be traced back to the Latin spina (“thorn”), which referenced the thorny shape of spinel crystals.

September | sapphire

 

  • The term sapphire is used to refer to any variety of the mineral corundum that isn’t red. Typically, the name sapphire is used to refer specifically to blue corundum that is classified as a precious gem. This sapphire’s blue color is caused by small amounts of iron and titanium mixing with the corundum.
  • Sapphires come in all colors besides red, but blue sapphires are used as the September birthstone.

The word sapphire comes from the Greek sáppheiros, a word that may have referred to blue gems, such as sapphire or lapis lazuli.

Soothe yourself with these tranquil and vibrant words for the color blue.

October | opal, tourmaline

opal

 

  • Opal is a mineral that is similar to quartz but has water in it. The presence of the water makes opal brittle, and opal gemstones are usually quite fragile.
  • The “precious opals” used as birthstones come in different colors but often have a kaleidoscopic effect where they shine in a range of colors.

The word opal comes from the Greek opállios, meaning “opal” or “gem.” It may also be related to the Sanskrit upala, meaning “precious stone.”

tourmaline

 

  • Tourmaline is a general name for a group of minerals and gemstones that come from said minerals. Large tourmaline crystals typically form after a mixture of many different elements is heated by hot water and water vapor. The color of the tourmaline will depend on which specific elements are used to make it.
  • Tourmaline comes in every color, but pink is typically used as the birthstone color.

Tourmaline comes from the Sinhalese tōramalliya, which means “carnelian.” You might remember that carnelian is the name of another gem that is one of July’s birthstones.

November | topaz, citrine

topaz

 

  • Topaz is a mineral used as a semiprecious gemstone. Topaz is a very hard mineral that needs fluorine from magma to mix with other elements in order to form crystals.
  • Topaz comes in many colors, but yellow topaz is used as the November birthstone.

Topaz comes from the Greek tópazos. This word was used to refer to an island where yellow gems were often found.

citrine

 

  • Citrine is yet another one of the many varieties of quartz. Any yellow or yellowish quartz is called citrine, and it is possible to turn amethyst (purple quartz) into citrine by heating it until it changes color.
  • Citrine comes in shades of yellow. The “inexpensive” (for a gem) citrine is often confused for more expensive yellow gems, such as topaz.

The word citrine is formed from a combination of the word citrus and the suffix -ine, which means “like” or “of the nature of.” Citrine is yellow like a citrusy lemon.

December | turquoise, tanzanite, blue zircon, lapis lazuli

turquoise

 

  • Turquoise is a blue or greenish-blue mineral used as a semiprecious gem. Turquoise grows best in arid areas where rainfall can help bring underground the copper that turquoise needs to form.
  • Blue and greenish-blue turquoise are most prized as gemstones.

Turquoise comes from an Old French word that meant “Turkish stone.” This name referred to the Turkish peoples of the Middle Ages and the lands they inhabited.

tanzanite

 

  • Tanzanite is a variety of the mineral zoisite. Tanzanite’s color is caused by bits of vanadium mixing with zoisite and getting very hot until it turns a blue color.
  • Tanzanite has a purplish-blue color.

Tanzanite is named after the country of Tanzania, the only place in the world where tanzanite is naturally found.

blue zircon

 

  • Zircon is an incredibly common mineral that is found in rocks all over the world. Zircon is highly resistant to erosion, so zircon crystals often outlast the rocks around them.
  • Zircon comes in many colors but blue zircon is used as a December birthstone.

The word zircon is an alteration of the older word jargon, which was used to refer to colorless zircon gemstones.

lapis lazuli

 

  • Lapis lazuli is a rock made of multiple minerals. Lapis lazuli’s deep blue color comes from lazurite, which is the “main ingredient” of lapis lazuli.
  • Lapis lazuli comes in shades of blue.

The name lapis lazuli comes from a combination of the Latin words lapis, meaning “stone,” and lazulī, from the word lazulum used to refer to an azure blue color.

Take the quiz!

Ready to make your word skills shine like a diamond (or any of the stones listed here)? Then it’s time to review our Birthstones Word List, where you can polish your knowledge of these gems and do make flashcards and more. Or, you can jump right into our quick quiz and dazzle everyone with your vocabulary.

If you're more interested in looking at the skies for rocks, then read about the difference between meteors, asteroids, and comets.

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