Thursday, January 26, 2012

A Long Look At Birthstones

After a lengthy discussion with an inquisitive customer, I thought it might be a good idea to post a note on birthstones, what they are, where they come from and the traditional as compared to modern lists we use today.  I certainly don't expect anybody to read the whole thing!  It would be my idea that one skim through the verbiage and find their own stone or information they are wanting.

There have been many sets of birthstones throughout history, different cultures and countries. In 1912, in an attempt to standardize them The American National Association of Jewelers, Jewelers of America adapted the Traditional to the Modern list below, it is currently the most widely used list in America and other countries such as Australia and Thailand.

In 2002 the AJA added Tanzanite as another or alternate birthstone for December.

Alchemists Vessel
Aquamarine / Alt
White Spinel
White Spinel
 Cubic Zirconium
Quartz Crystal
Malachite (Alt)
Agate, alexandrite
Agate / Carnelian
Alexandrite / Pearl
Agate / Carnelian
Pearl / Ruby
Peridot / Jasper
Blue Spinel
Lapis Lazuli
Lapis Lazuli
Rose Sapphire
Opal / Tourmaline
Golden Topaz
Topaz (All colors)
Topaz / Citrine
Blue Zircon

However, there has been some indecision in regards to June’s and July’s Birthstones.  Originally it was thought that your birthstone corresponded to your Zodiac Sign.  In later years that changed to the Roman calendar months and the birthstone was associated with the month the sign dominated, not the sign itself.  Traditionally Pearl has been July’s Birthstone as it corresponds to Cancer the Crab, as the Zodiac sign is dominate in July.  Recently the list has been changed with no date of record, to include Ruby.  The lists have omitted Agate and Carnelian for June and replaced them with Pearl. (The Zodiac sign of Cancer begins at the end of June)

It is believed that the birthstones originated from the Bible and are taken from the Breastplate of Aaron, Exodus 28: 15-21; they represent the twelve tribes of Israel. Set in four rows they correspond to the Zodiac at that time.  In order they are listed as:

The First Row: Sardius, Topaz, Carbuncle (or Emerald)
The Second Row: Emerald (or Carbuncle), Sapphire, and Diamond
The Third Row: Jacinth, Agate, and Amethyst
The Fourth Row: Beryl, Onyx, and Jasper

The stones may also be taken from the foundations for the walls of the New Jerusalem, and may be found in the book of Revelations 21: 19 -21.  Listed in order of the Roman calendar and the layers: Jasper, Sapphire, Chalcedony, Emerald, Sardonyx, Sardius, Chrysolite, Beryl, Topaz, Chrysoprase, Jacinth, and Amethyst.  There are also twelve gates, each made of Pearl.

Many of the names are a general description for any number of stones.  Emerald is a Beryl Stone. 
Alexandrite: A grass green “chrysoberyl” that changes color to red in transmitted or artificial light..
Beryl is a mineral made up of silicate of beryllium (a toxic substance) and aluminum.
Carbuncle: Garnet, or a red precious stone
Chalcedony (kal-se-d-en-ee) is translucent quartz in various colors and waxy luster, like Jasper and Chrysoprase.
Chryoprase: An apple green chalcedony.
Chrysolite: also called “Olivine”, it is also a chalcedony.
Jacinth: is a gem orange in color.
Ruby is corundum, a mineral in hard crystalline form of aluminum oxide.  Sapphire is also corundum.
Sardius: also called Sard is an iron oxide mineral, usually reddish-brown in color. Sometimes confused with Carnelian.
Sardonyx: Is an Onyx that has bands or stripes of Sard.
Spinel: a mineral consisting of oxide, ferrous iron rich, with zinc and manganese.

Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, 11th Edition
The Crystal Wisdom Book, Stephanie Harrison and Barbara Kleiner
The Only Astrology Book You’ll Ever Need, Joanna Martin Woolfolk
The Hidden World of Birthdays, Judith Turner
The Complete Book of Astrology, Caitlin Johnstone
The Holy Bible, American Standard Version, 1929
Various Websites
American Jeweler’s Association

Birthstones, Alternatives, Metaphysical Meanings and Facts

January - Garnet (a crystalline stone)

The Stone of Constancy

Physical Description: Deep, red-purple in color.

Metaphysical Properties: Encourages imagination, a stone of devotion to lovers, passion for others and oneself. Self esteem.

Interesting Fact: Garnet comes in several colors, but it is the red variety that is used as a gem.
In the Victorian era garnet was favored in woman’s jewelry; it symbolized fidelity. Sometimes generally referred to as a carbuncle.

February- Amethyst (a crystal)

The Stone of Sincerity

Physical Description: Ranges in color from light, transparent lavender to a deep, opaque royal purple.

Metaphysical Properties: Promotes creativity, intuition, inner peace and spiritual awareness or understanding.

Interesting Fact: Thought to prevent drunkenness, in ancient times wine goblets were lined with or made entirely out of Amethyst. From the Greek word amethystos ("not drunken").  Traditionally ranking members of the Catholic Church wear a ring set with a large amethyst as part of their office.

March –  Aquamarine (a variety of beryl)

The Stone of Serenity

Physical Description: Translucent light blue, blue-green or grass-green in color.

Alternative 1:  Blood Stone

Alternative 2: Amazonite (a variety of feldspar)

Physical Description: This versatile stone comes in many colors. I have chosen its aqua color for its resemblance to Aquamarine and the soft blue color of water.

Metaphysical Properties: Bestows truth and integrity the wearer.

April - Diamond – formed from coal

The Stone of Purification

Physical Description: Transparent stone with brilliant shine and clarity when expertly cut.

Interesting Fact: In 1912 in an effort o standardize the Birthstones White Spinel was replaced with Diamond as a less expensive alternative.

Alternative: Clear Quartz (a crystal)

Physical Description: Clear Quartz is an excellent amplifier and transmitter. I have chosen it for its clarity and resemblance to the Diamond.

Metaphysical Properties: Balances healing energies, directs and transmits thoughts. Used for divination.

Interesting Fact: In ancient times referred to as "Frozen water from Heaven"; due to its glass-like appearance it was also called "Solidified Light." From the old Saxon quertz  meaning “cross vein ore".
May – Emerald (a variety of beryl)

The Stone of Success and Love

Physical Description: a deep to light green translucent stone,

Metaphysical Properties:  Traditionally used to enhance memory

Alternative: Malachite (a copper stone)

Physical Description: I have chosen Malachite for its Emerald-like grass green color.  Layered with deep, forest-green that mimics the moors. It brings to mind the outdoors, hills, trees, and grass.

Metaphysical Properties: Promotes harmony and emotional balance, and reduces stress.

Interesting Fact: Used as a pigment for paint until about 1800. Malachite has been mined for about 3,000 years at Timna in Israel, also called “King Solomon’s Mines”.

June - Agate (Traditional): Blue Lace, Black, Red and Golden Leaf varieties.

Physical Description:  An aggregate of various forms of silica, chiefly chalcedony (a quartz). These lovely stones have a myriad of colors and appearances. I have chosen Blue Lace Agate for its soft blue tones and striations throughout each bead.

Blue Lace Agate: enhances grace and lightheartedness.

Metaphysical Properties: All Agate offers acceptance, emotional and physical balance, connects  one to nature and fosters love.

Interesting Fact: In 1912 in an effort to standardize the Birthstones Agate was given the alternative of Carnelian, a variety of agate that when heated becomes a brilliant orange color.  Recently the list has changed with no date of record and Pearl has replaced Agate and Carnelian.  We offer all three birthstones for this month.

Alternative: Carnelian – a variety of Agate

Physical Description: originates as a dull brown agate but when expertly heated it becomes a bright orange color.

Metaphysical Properties: Protection against envy, fear and rages.

**WE have pearls for June too!

July- Pearl (Traditional) a "gem" created by oysters

The Stone of Regeneration

Physical Description: Fresh Water and Oyster Created Pearls are prized for their white color and high luster.

Interesting Fact: Pearls have many faces, they are said to be dragon tears and lanterns to light one's way. Many ancients depicted their gods wearing pearls as a symbol of their purity and divinity.

Alternative: Ruby – red corundum

The Stone of Leadership

Physical Description: The “Queen of Gems”  it is an aluminum oxide mineral in crystalline form.

NOTE: Traditionally Pearl has been July’s birthstone, recently with no date of record Ruby has been included (once associated with Leo) as July’s Birthstone, we offer both of these stones for this month.  

August- Peridot  a variety of olivine

The Stone of Friendship

Physical Description: A light green color, it is a mineral of complex silicates of magnesium and iron.

Metaphysical Properties: Gives off a warm and friendly energy, brings happiness, aids in overcoming anger or jealousy.  Often used to heal bruised egos.

Alternative: - Jasper – a chalcedony

Physical Description: An earthy, terra cotta colors it is Chalcedony; translucent quartz in various colors and waxy luster.

Metaphysical Properties: Aids in remembering dreams, brings balance, thought to warn of or rescue from danger.

Interesting Fact: Jasper means “spotted stone”. Part of the quartz family, its color comes from iron oxide. It was used as an amulet to protect one from venomous creatures, drought and general disturbances.

September –  Sapphire – blue corundum

The Stone of Healing, the Stone of Clear Thinking and the Stone of Prosperity.

Physical Description: a Light to deep blue stone, aluminum oxide mineral in crystalline form.

Metaphysical Properties:  Eliminates frustration and fulfills dreams.

Alternative: Lapis Lazuli – a rock

Physical Description:. This beautiful stone is a dark blue or soft denim color with streaks or flecks of pyrite through out the bead.  To be a mineral it would have to have a single constituent, Lapis is made up of several and therefore it is a rock.

Metaphysical Properties: Aligns the ethical, spiritual and mental bodies, all knowing, invoking wisdom and expression. Traditionally it is the Stone of Royalty.

October – Opal – a silica

The Stone of Clear Thinking

Physical Description: a mineral of hydrated silica softer than quartz, noted for its iridescence or “fire” play across the stone’s surface.

Metaphysical Properties: Used to invoke visions and enter “dreamtime”.

Interesting Fact: The Aborigines say that opals were born when the Storm god, jealous of its beauty, shattered the rainbow with a lightening bolt.

Alternative 1: Tourmaline - a borosilicate

Physical Description: a stone of various colors, valued as a gem when transparent and cut.

Interesting Fact: Tourmaline was once thought to be an evil stone that connected one with the dark powers of the universe

Alternative 2: Rose Quartz (a crystal)

Physical Description: Delicate and soft, the variation of pink mimics the qualities of Opal.

Metaphysical Properties: Forgiveness, comfort, representing unconditional love and harmony. Used to heal broken hearts.

Interesting Fact: Natural crystals are rare and are usually seen as rounded beads or tumble stones (Alchemists Vessel uses natural beads and nuggets). In some instances when cut, the stone may produce a star-like effect, caused by inclusions of rutile needles.

November: Golden Topaz – a mineral

The Stone of Fidelity

Physical Description: a mineral of silicate of aluminum, it is the golden variety that is used for November’s Birthstone,  Topaz also appears in white and blue variations.

Alternative 1: Citrine – variety of quartz

The Stone of Wealth

Physical Description: A yellow or golden variety of quartz crystal

Metaphysical Properties: used to attract wealth and ward off evil thoughts.

Alternative 2: Snow Quartz

Physical Description: Snow Quartz is an opaque soft white color.

Metaphysical Properties: Purity, associated with blessings and initiations, aids in cleansing and rejuvenating mind and spirit.

Interesting Fact: It is a physical representation of pure white light. White light is made up of all the colors of the spectrum - therefore this stone holds all the colors of the rainbow and creates perfect balance and harmony.

December - Turquoise –a mineral

The Stone of Communication

Physical Description: Sky-blue in color with a black matrix, a basic phosphate of copper and aluminum

Metaphysical Properties: Sometimes worn as a healing stone or a stone of protection.

Interesting Fact: Symbolizes the sky. Highly prized for its appearance when sky-blue, it is primarily mixed with or set in silver for rings, necklaces, earrings and other adornments.

1 comment:

  1. What a great list of stones and the meanings Alix!