Birthstone jewellery has long been a popular choice for a birthday gift - though don't forget to look at our anniversary gift list for ideas for those special birthdays.
January - Garnet
Symbolises faith, eternity, truth
Garnet is named from the Greek ‘granatum’ meaning ‘pomegranate seed’, which the uncut crystals are said to resemble. The most common colour is deep red but they can be found in many colours, each colour having an individual name. It was very popular in Victorian jewellery.
Garnets have always been associated with promoting cheerfulness and faith in friendship. It has also been used to symbolise power and importance, and garnets carved with the profiles of Emperors have been found dating back to Roman times.
February - Amethyst
Symbolises luck, wittiness, health
From earliest times Amethyst was thought to guard against drunkenness, its name being Greek for ‘without intoxication’. Before large deposits were found in Brazil it was considered to be very precious, especially as the colour purple was associated with wealth and royalty.
Amethyst is usually found in a purple/violet colour, but does occur in other shades.
It is said that St Valentine always wore amethyst, and in the Middle Ages the gift of a heart-shaped amethyst set in silver was supposed to ensure the greatest possible earthly happiness for the couple.
March - Aquamarine
Symbolises happiness, understanding
Aquamarine, like emerald, is a member of the beryl family and takes the name from the clear sea-blue colour of its crystals. The largest aquamarine ever found weighed 243lb, and was cut into smaller, usable gemstones totalling over 200,000 carats!
Throughout the ages aquamarine has also been associated with love – in Roman times it was believed to preserve the feeling of newfound love if given as a wedding gift, whereas in the Middle Ages it was said to rekindle the love of a married couple. It was also used to carve crystal balls, as it was supposed to focus the mind and aid in fortune telling.
April - Diamond
Symbolises eternity, courage, health
The most precious of gemstones, diamond is the hardest substance known to man. Nothing can cut it except another diamond, so only by grinding and polishing with diamond dust and other minute diamonds can a rough diamond be revealed and eventually cut into the brilliant array of forms available to show off the beauty of this stunning stone.
May - Emerald
Symbolises fidelity, goodness, love
By carat weight the most precious gemstone in the world, emeralds combine colour and clarity to be some of the most valued stones in jewellery. They belong to the beryl family, being given their iconic green colour by traces of chromium.
Since early times emeralds have been revered; the Incas believed that emeralds were the daughters of their chief goddess. In Roman times it was said that evil could not last in the presence of an emerald, which would see through any falsehood.
June - Pearl
Symbolises peace, nobility, beauty
Known from antiquity, pearls were once only affordable to the richest of people as they were a rarity, each occurring by chance after a small piece of grit had entered an oyster shell and become coated by the substance known as ‘nacre’ (Mother of Pearl).
Be they natural or cultured, pearls can occur in many beautiful shades - from white and cream through pink to green and black. The lustre of pearls is said to reflect the health of the person wearing them, with a distinctive glow to the shimmering colours seen on the pearl’s surface.
July - Ruby
Symbolises love, enthusiasm, strength
Rubies are famous in the Oriental nations for their continued use in Talismans, and are worn in China and Japan to show the long life, health, and happiness of the wearer.
Pliny, and Ancient Roman author, once said that Rubies were considered by the Chaldeans to protect the wearer from evil.
Rubies are extremely hard and can vary in colour from light pink to deep carmine. The finest rubies are found in Burma, but have also been known to occur in Sri Lanka.
August - Peridot
Symbolises success, peace, love
Peridot is traditionally associated with love, truth, faithfulness and loyalty and is believed to keep a lover from straying!
In the past peridot was considered more valuable than diamond, with civilisations as old as Ancient Egypt mining the stone to give to their leaders. The Pharaohs used them to ward off evil. In Roman times they were believed to protect against melancholy and illusion and were set in gold, the metal of the sun, to ward off terrors of the night.
September - Sapphire
Symbolises serenity, truth
Sapphires, their name derived from the Greek ‘saphiros’ meaning ‘precious stone’, are most commonly associated with the rich blue hue that marks the most valuable of these stones. However they occur naturally in almost every shade, from colourless white through to green, pink and yellow.
Prized for its beauty by many civilisations throughout history, sapphire was one of the earliest precious stones known to man and remains popular to this day.
October - Opal
Symbolises purity, hope, health
Opal is a truly unique precious stone – no two will ever be alike. Their fiery iridescence can be any colour and their myriad rainbow hues have enchanted mankind for hundreds of years.
Different types of opal exhibit different colours. Common opal is milky white, with no fire, but precious opal can be white, black, or ‘fire’, which is a clear orange. Traces of the base rock on the opal can bring out the colours very vividly.
November - Topaz
Symbolises wisdom, courage, sincerity
Topaz is the traditional birthstone for November, named for the island of Topazos in the Red Sea where it was discovered by the Romans. Many cultures have prized it for the belief it preserves health and sanity.
Found in many colours from pink, yellow, green, blue and golden hues, pure topaz is colourless and the colour is caused by selective absorption of various wavelengths of light. Light blue topaz can be found in several UK locations, including Cornwall, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
December - Turquoise
Symbolises love, happiness, luck
Turquoise has been prized by many cultures throughout the ages, from its religious significance in ancient Aztec and Mayan cultures, to the belief in the Middle Ages that if given as a gift of love, the turquoise could protect it’s wearer from illness and poison.
Turquoise is the only gemstone from the phosphate family, and its vivid blue colour comes from the traces of copper in its structure. However the presence of iron can give the stone a greenish hue, and as turquoise can change colour as it ages it has also been associated with the cycle of life and ageing.