Birthstones: Singular gems mark months of the year

January is known for white snowflakes. And red garnets. Each month gets a signature gem — a birthsto
An array of birthstone rings with diamond accents are on display at Northeastern Fine Jewelry on Union Street.
An array of birthstone rings with diamond accents are on display at Northeastern Fine Jewelry on Union Street.

January is known for white snowflakes. And red garnets.

February is the month for red hearts. And purple amethysts.

September means golden leaves. And blue sapphires.

Each month gets a signature gem — a birthstone — for people who want constant reminders of the time they were born. With January here, jewelers once again begin their work with the significant dozen (plus some alternatives). They say birthstones remain popular investments.

“Birthstones are very popular, but it’s really colored stones,” said Sondra Stephens, who has owned and operated Sondra’s Fine Jewelry in Schenectady since 1997.

“Most of the stones are gems or precious stones. January is garnet, February is amethyst. Then you get to your few months of the year that have precious stones, which is your May emerald, [and] April is diamond; July is ruby and September is sapphire. Those are the precious stones, the very coveted stones. A lot of women love those stones, even if it’s not their birthstone month. They all ask for a pair of sapphire earrings or a ruby ring.”

Bringing good luck

According to the Encyclopedia Americana, some believe wearing the stones brings good luck. There’s a spooky explanation too. In medieval times, astrologers figured out the zodiacal significance of the months. Based on their calculations, different stones were considered useful in warding off evil spirits.

The American Gem Society, not concerned with evil spirits, said each stone has a meaning. The garnet signifies eternal friendship and trust. The amethyst is supposed to keep its wearer clear-headed and quick-witted.

March gets two stones, the aquamarine and the bloodstone. The former was supposed to protect sailors and guarantee safe voyage.

The bloodstone has a more powerful reputation. The Gem Society said the dark green stone flecked with red spots is a battery for healing powers — especially for blood disorders.

Other meanings, according to the society and other reference sources, include:

– April’s diamond — innocence and love.

–  May’s emerald — rebirth, foresight, good fortune and youth.

–  June’s pearl, alexandrite and moonstone — balance and joy.

–  July’s ruby — health, wisdom, wealth and success in love.

–  August’s peridot and sardonyx — the former is linked to power, influence and a wonderful year. The latter is connected to courage and victory.

–  September’s sapphire — protects loved ones from envy and harm. Wisdom and calm are also in the mix.

–  October’s tourmaline — balance and endurance.

–  November’s citrine and topaz — friendship and strength.

–  December’s zircon — wisdom and wealth.

Skipping months

Stephens said people often have good reasons for skipping their birthstones and buying another month. If they’re Irish, she said, they may decide on an emerald and wear green all year long.

“A lot of times in February, for Valentine’s Day, their birthstones would be amethysts,” Stephens said. “A lot of guys come in looking for a red stone; that would be your garnet or possibly your ruby, the July birthstone. You know, red for Valentine’s Day.”

Some go for the meanings. Purple stones — there’s the amethyst again — are considered majestic.

“Purple is known for royalty, red is for the heart,” Stephens said.

Valerie Kelly, a spokeswoman for the three Northeastern Fine Jewelry stores in the Capital Region, said birthstones often become gifts.

“They’re popular gifts for birthdays, especially for mothers,” Kelly said. “They want their children’s birthstones, grandmothers want their grandchildren’s birthstones for necklaces or rings.”

The stones are also popular for engagement gifts or for holiday presentations. Some people probably received blue stones for December on Christmas morning.

“Most people, if they do like their birthstone, they like to wear it,” Kelly said.

Pricey choices

People buying birthstones might be unlucky if their beloved’s birthday falls in one of the “expensive” months.

“April, that’s the diamond birthstone,” Kelly said. “Diamonds are more rare so they’re going to be your most expensive birthstones. Next would be September or May. September is the sapphire, and sapphire — depending on the quality like anything else — tends to be more expensive. May is the emerald, and they’re considered your precious stones.”

Other people get off easy. Or rather, their wallets or purses do.

“Anything in the quartz family,” Kelly said. “November is citrine, in the quartz family. February is amethyst, much more abundant at lower price points.”

That doesn’t mean cheap. Kelly said the stones can be expensive. “Really, it’s based on availability and quality.”

Some people get a bad draw with August. The peridot is lime green.

“People do not like lime green,” Kelly said. “It doesn’t go with very much. I hear that most, ‘I don’t like my birthstone for August.’ ”

Categories: Life and Arts

Leave a Reply