Early civilization as far back as the Assyrians (1400 BC) invested rare and beautiful gemstones with magical properties. Some minerals were thought to contain a force or possess certain values and powers. For instance, amethyst was said to prevent intoxication. Tradition associates a gem with each sign of the zodiac based on a color system. Color was thought to unleash the power attributed to the stone.
Birthstones became associated with calendar months rather than the zodiac. And people began to select birthstones in colors other than the original. The roman, Arabic, Jewish, Polish, Russian and Italian lists were all different. The following list of birthstones, which is the one commonly used today, was adopted in 1912 by the American National Association of jewelers, which later evolved into the jewelers of America.
The beautiful color of a gemstone is its most defining characteristic, and many jewelers consider it to be the most important evaluation criterion. When deciding upon gemstone color, examine hue, tone, and saturation.
|The most valuable gemstones are those that exhibit a pure color and only "slight" hues of other colors in addition to their primary color, as all Blue Nile gemstones do. For example, Blue Nile sapphires range in hue from "slightly purplish-blue" to "slightly greenish-blue," pink sapphires always range from "pink" to "slightly purplish-pink," and rubies range from "slightly orangish-red" to "slightly purplish-red". With the exception of opals, variation in a gemstone's hue will be called out in the gemstone details on the product detail page.|
|Tone represents the depth of color, ranging from colorless to black. Gemstone tone is described as "light," "medium-light," "medium," "medium-dark," and "dark." Blue Nile offers gemstones with the most sought-after tones that fall within the medium-light to medium-dark range. For all of our gemstone jewelry, you'll find any tone variations are called out in the gemstone details.|
|Saturation, or color purity, refers to the degree to which the gem is free from brown or gray hues. The most desirable gemstones, which show little gray or brown, are often described as having "vivid" or "strong" color saturation. Generally, the levels of color saturation will not be called out in the product details because the gemstones in our jewelry are hand-selected for their vivid colors.|
|Birthstones by Month|
Traditionally, a birthstone is
associated with each month of the year. For example, the birthstone for January
is a garnet, while lucky babies born in April get a diamond as their birthstone.
The origin of birthstones is believed to date back to the breastplate of Aaron which contained twelve gemstones representing the twelve tribes of Israel. The current list dates back to 1912 with only one addition since then – the tanzanite was added to December.
|Garnet- The birthstone for January, signifies eternal friendship and trust and is the perfect gift for a friend. Garnet, derived from the word granatum, means seed, and is called so because of the gemstone's resemblance to a pomegranate seed. References to the gemstone dates back to 3100 B.C., when the Egyptians used garnets as inlays jewelry. Garnet is the name of a group of minerals that comes in a rainbow of colors, from the deep red of the pyrope garnet to the vibrant green of tsavorites. Today, the most important sources for garnet are Africa, Sri Lanka, and India.|
|Amethyst- The gemstone believed by ancient Greeks and Romans to ward off the intoxicating powers of Bacchus, also is said to keep the wearer clear-headed and quick-witted. Throughout history, the gemstone has been associated with many myths, legends, religions, and numerous cultures. English regalia were even decorated with amethysts during the Middle Ages to symbolize royalty. It has been associated with many myths, legends, religions, and numerous cultures. Amethyst is purple quartz, a beautiful blend of violet and red that can found in every corner of the earth. Historically, the finest amethyst were found in Russia and were featured in much royal European jewelry. Today, while Brazil is the primary source of this gemstone, fine material can be found elsewhere, especially in Zambia.|
|Aquamarine- The name aquamarine is derived from the Latin word aqua, meaning water, and marina, meaning the sea. This gemstone was believed to protect sailors, as well as to guarantee a safe voyage. The serene color of aquamarine is said to cool the temper, allowing the wearer to remain calm and levelheaded. Its pale, cool color beautifully complements spring and summer wardrobes. Aquamarine is most often light in tone and ranges from greenish blue to blue-green; the color usually is more intense in larger stones. This gemstone is mined mainly in Brazil, but also is found in Nigeria, Madagascar, Zambia, Pakistan, and Mozambique.|
|Diamond- As the April birthstone, diamonds are the ideal gift for a loved one. And now you have more choices than ever. Get creative and give the ultimate gift of beauty: a fancy-color diamond. Fancy-color diamonds are natural, rare and truly exotic gem of the earth. Diamonds in hues of yellow, red, pink, blue, and green range in intensity from faint to vivid and generally the more saturated the color, the higher the value. In fact, diamonds sparkling with intense color are rare and may be priced higher than a colorless diamond of equal size. Because fancy-color diamonds are very desirable, color is sometimes introduced in a laboratory. These are correctly called color-treated diamonds. When purchasing a fancy-color diamond, the shopper should ask if any enhancements or treatments were used to improve its color and/or clarity.|
|Emerald- As the birthstone for May, the emerald, a symbol of rebirth, is believed to grant the owner foresight, good fortune, and youth. Emerald, derived from the word smaragdus, meaning green in Greek, was mined in Egypt as early as 330 B.C. Today, most of the world’s emeralds are mined in Colombia, Brazil, Afghanistan, and Zambia. The availability of high-quality emerald is limited; consequently, treatments to improve clarity are performed regularly.|
Historically, pearls have been used
as an adornment for centuries. They were one of the favorite gem materials of
the Roman Empire; later in Tudor England, the 1500s were known as the pearl
age. Pearls are unique as they are the only gems from living sea creatures
and require no faceting or polishing to reveal their natural beauty. In the
early 1900s, the first successful commercial culturing of round saltwater pearls
began. Since the 1920s, cultured pearls have almost completely replaced natural
pearls in the market.
Alexandrite- A relatively modern gem, Alexandrite, was first discovered in Russia in 1831 during the reign of its namesake, Czar Alexander II, and is an extremely rare chrysoberyl with chameleon-like qualities. Its color is a lovely green in both daylight and fluorescent light; it changes color to a purplish red in incandescent light. Due to its rarity, some jewelers stock synthetic versions of this enchanting gemstone. (Synthetic gemstones are man-made alternatives to the natural material, possessing the same physical, optical, and chemical properties as the natural gemstone.)
|Ruby- There’s no better way to demonstrate your love than by giving a ruby in celebration of a July birthday. Rubies arouse the senses, stir the imagination, and are said to guarantee health, wisdom, wealth and success in love. Ruby is a variety of the gems species corundum. It is harder than any natural gemstone except diamond, which means a ruby is durable enough for everyday wear. Fine-quality ruby is extremely rare, and the color of the gem is most important to its value. The most prized color is a medium or medium dark vivid red or slightly purplish red. If the gem is too light or has too much purple or orange, it will be called a fancy-color sapphire.|
|Peridot- Peridot is said to host magical powers and healing properties to protect against nightmares and to bring the wearer power, influence, and a wonderful year. As peridot is a gemstone that forms deep inside the Earth and brought to the surface by volcanoes, in Hawaii, peridot symbolizes the tears of Pele, the goddess of fire and volcanoes. Today, most of the peridot supply comes from Arizona; other sources are China, Myanmar, and Pakistan. This gemstone comes in several color variations ranging from yellowish green to brown, but most consumers are attracted to the bright lime greens and olive greens. Peridot, in smaller sizes, often is used in beaded necklaces and bracelets.|
|Sapphire- Sapphire, the September birthstone, has been popular since the Middle Ages and, according to folklore, will protect your loved ones from envy and harm. Medieval clergy wore sapphires to symbolize heaven, while commoners thought the gem attracted heavenly blessings. Blue sapphires range from very light to very dark greenish or violetish blue, as well as various shades of pure blue. The most prized colors are a medium to medium dark blue or slightly violetish blue. Sapphire is a variety of the gem species corundum and occurs in all colors of the rainbow. Pink, purple, green, orange, or yellow corundum are known by their color (pink sapphire, green sapphire). Ruby is the red variety of corundum.|
The name opal derives from
the Greek Opallos, meaning "to see a change (of color)." Opals range
in color from milky white to black with flashes of yellow, orange, green, red,
and blue. An opal's beauty is the product of contrast between its color play and
its background. Opal is a formation of non-crystalline silica gel that seeped
into crevices in the sedimentary strata. Through time and nature's heating and
molding processes, the gel hardened into the form of opals. The opal is composed
of particles closely packed in spherical arrangements. When packed together in a
regular pattern, a three-dimensional array of spaces are created that give opal
Tourmaline- Tourmaline has become a favorite gemstone among jewelry designer, and gem collectors the world over. Since it is available in a wide variety of colors, it is ideally suited to almost anyone's taste. Tourmaline also is known for displaying several colors in the same gemstone. These bi-color or tri-color gems are formed in many combinations; gemstones with clear color distinctions are highly prized. One multi-color variety is known as watermelon tourmaline, and features green, pink, and white colors bands; to resemble its namesake, the gemstone is cut into thin slices having a pink center, white ring, and green edge. Tourmaline is found in many localities including Brazil, Afghanistan, East Africa, and the USA.
Citrine, the other birthstone for
November is known as the "healing quartz". This golden gemstone is said to
support vitality and health while encouraging and guiding hope, energy and
warmth within the wearer. Citrine can be found in a variety of shades ranging
from pastel yellow to dark brownish orange. It is one of the most affordable of
gemstones and plentiful in nature. Citrine is found most frequently in Brazil,
Bolivia, and Spain.
Yellow Topaz- Topaz is a gemstone available in a rich rainbow of colors. Prized for several thousand years in antiquity, all yellow gems in antiquity were called topaz. Often confused with citrine quartz (yellow) and smoky quartz (brown), quartz and topaz are separate and unrelated mineral species. The most prized color of topaz is called Imperial topaz after the Russian Czars of the 1800s and features a magnificent orange body color with pinkish undertones. Topaz also comes in yellow, pink, purple, orange, and the many popular blue tones.
|Blue Topaz- The Blue Topaz was even thought to have magical properties in its ability to make its wearer invisible in a threatening situation. Blue Topaz is the hardest of the silicate minerals. While pure Topaz is colorless, minor changes of elements within the stone result in a variety of other colors, such as blue, pale green, red, yellow and pink. The blue hue is created when Topaz is heated, whether the heat source is natural or engineered by man. The three shades of Blue Topaz are Sky, Swiss and London Blue. The latter is the deepest blue and is often used as a less expensive substitute for Sapphire. Topaz is found primarily in Brazil, Nigeria, Sri Lanka, Mexico, Pakistan, China, and the United States.|