What are the birthstones for each month?

The first association of a special gem with each month was recorded in the Bible, in Exodus 28 and 39. An original breastplate of the High Priest of the Hebrews was said to be made by Moses in 1250 BC, according to instructions he received during 40 days in the mountains. The 12 gems in the breastplate were later linked with the signs of the zodiac, and later still associated with the months in the year. Thus, becoming what we know as birthstones.

Different cultures have different lists. Jewelers’ lists are often inconsistent. Unless you’re a geologist, the terminology of birthstones may be a bit confusing. So here’s a quick primer on birthstone terms.

Minerals are made of inorganic materials (substances that were never alive), whose atoms are arranged in a regular pattern, or crystal.

Rocks are made up of one or more minerals. Most people also include clay, sand and limestones in the rock category.

Gemstones are a special subgroup of highly prized minerals. Gems are usually clearer, rarer, and more beautiful than other minerals. Color, luster and hardness are also important qualities that can set gems apart from other minerals. But there’s no hard and fast rule as to which minerals cut it as gems and which don’t. It’s mostly a matter of custom.

What’s the difference between precious and semi-precious gems?
Most gems can be divided into precious and semi-precious. Only the most rare and expensive gems are classified as precious. Diamonds, emeralds, rubies, pearls, and sapphires are all considered precious gems. Most remaining gems – such as varieties of quartz (including amethyst, opal, and bloodstone) – are semiprecious.

The image at the top of this post is an artist’s concept of tiny specks of minerals found in the gemstones peridot, sapphires, and rubies, seen blowing in the winds of a quasar. Astronomers using NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope found evidence that such quasar winds might have forged these dusty particles in the very early universe.

Birthstones are special stones associated with each month of the year. They have a place in history, mythology and science. Check out the special story of your birthstone.

January birthstone
February birthstone
March birthstone
April birthstone
May birthstone
June birthstone
July birthstone
August birthstone
September birthstone
October birthstone
November birthstone
December birthstone

September 16, 2009

Like what you read?
Subscribe and receive daily news delivered to your inbox.

Your email address will only be used for EarthSky content. Privacy Policy
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

More from 

Editors of EarthSky

View All