Guide To Birthstones Birthstones By Month

The human brain is biologically wired to find patterns and significance. It’s a trait that helped us survive and adapt as prehistoric humans, and continues to help us navigate the complexities of modern life.

This trait also leads our cultures to attribute significance, power and luck to various objects and events. Birthstones, a tradition traced back to the 15th or 16th century, is an example of this human tendency.

The tradition of birthstones–connecting a specific mineral with a birthday–can help you if you’re having trouble thinking of a gift for somebody you love.

Birthstones by Month

The first step in choosing a birthstone gift is finding the birthstone your loved one gets. Each month of the year is associated with its own stone:

  • January: Garnet (deep red)
  • February: Amethyst (purple)
  • March: Aquamarine (very pale blue)
  • April: Diamond (you know what a diamond looks like!)
  • May: Emerald (bright green)
  • June: Moonstone (opaque, milky white or pale blue)
  • July: Ruby (bright red)
  • August: Peridot (lime green)
  • September: Sapphire (deep blue)
  • October: Opal or tourmaline (both multicolored).
  • November: Topaz (which can be one of many colors) or citrine (pale yellow to deep orange).
  • December: Turquoise (which, of course, is turquoise) or tanzanite (violet blue).

Birthstones by Zodiac Sign

The signs of the Zodiac are another example of the human need to find patterns and significance in our environment. If you love somebody who enjoys or practices astrology, celebrate that person and show an interest by choosing a birthstone according to the lesser-known zodiacal birthstones:

  • Capricorn (December 22 – January 19): Ruby
  • Aquarius (January 20 – February 19): Garnet
  • Pisces (February 20 – March 20): Amethyst
  • Aires (March 21 – April 20): Bloodstone (mottled deep red and green)
  • Taurus (April 21 – May 20): Sapphire
  • Gemini (May 21 – June 20): Agate (multicolored rings)
  • Cancer (June 21 – July 22): Emerald
  • Leo (July 23 – August 22): Onyx (shiny, opaque black)
  • Virgo (August 23 – September 22): Carnelian (bright, opaque red-orange)
  • Libra (September 23 – October 23): Peridot
  • Scorpio (October 24 – November 22): Beryl (which can be many colors)
  • Sagittarius (November 22 – December 21): Topaz

Birthstones by Birthday

If you want to impress your friend with some even more obscure knowledge, find out what day of the week she was born on. Websites for many university history departments include a utility to look up the weekday for any given date, or you can ask your friend’s parents–they are likely to remember the exact day their daughter or son was born.

This can be a great option if your friend doesn’t like the style or color of her traditional birthstone, and doesn’t ascribe to the beliefs of astrology. It’s also a thoughtful way to tell her something interesting about her life–most people don’t know the day of the week on which they were born:

  • Sunday: Topaz
  • Monday: Pearl
  • Tuesday: Ruby
  • Wednesday: Amethyst
  • Thursday: Sapphire
  • Friday: Carnelian
  • Saturday: Turquoise.

Birthstones and Ethnicity

The birthstones we recognize today are modern conventions, decided upon within the last 200 years or so. Prior to that, many individual cultures, regions and religions had their own birthstones for each month. For example, the Muslim July birthstone is a sapphire (not a ruby). The Hindu birthstone for June is a pearl instead of a moonstone. Choosing a birthstone based on cultural beliefs can attribute added significance to your gift.

Mother’s (and Father’s) Rings

For an old-fashioned Mother’s Day (or Father’s Day) gift, buy your parent the birthstone appropriate for you–or a multiple-stone set with birthstones for you and your siblings. This is also a great gift for grandparents and in-laws.

Gifting Birthstones

The traditional method for gifting a birthstone is set in jewelry. Necklaces, bracelets and earrings are good choices for women. A watch is a good choice for your male friends. Rings set with a birthstone work for both genders. For an old-fashioned twist, set the birthstone in cufflinks for men, or a brooch for women.

You can also have a birthstone set in decorations and other objects– anything from stained glass to coasters to a picture frame.

Choosing Birthstones

One problem with gifting birthstones is their expense. It’s easy to buy a birthstone gift for a boyfriend born in November–topaz is a semi-precious stone and inexpensive to buy. For a wife born in April–whose birthstone is a diamond–birthstone gifting can get prohibitively expensive in a hurry.

For birthstones that are precious gems–rubies, sapphires, diamonds, emeralds and pearls–it’s appropriate to buy something that represents that birthstone. Paste or other kinds of fake costume jewelry won’t work, but a beautiful set of translucent blue wine glasses may work for a wife who’s a Taurus (sapphire).