What are birthstones?
Every month of the year is represented by a beautiful birthstone, each with its own unique meaning and interesting folklore.
You'll hear many ideas about how birthstones came about. They're thought to go way back to the Bible and the breastplate made for Aaron, the High Priest of the Hebrews. The garment held 12 precious gemstones, each one representing a different Israeli tribe.
Many theories have been offered up since. The stones were once linked to the signs of the zodiac, before later becoming associated with the 12 months of the year.
Birthstones are shrouded in myth and legend – they're traditionally believed to bring good luck, healing powers and therapeutic influence. It was thought that wearing the gemstone during its associated month helped to enhance its abilities, the idea being that you should own all 12 and alternate them monthly.
What is my birthstone?
Find out more about each month's stone and what they mean for the wearer
The garnet got its name from the word ‘granatum’ which meant ‘seed’. It was given this name because the stone often resembles the seed of a pomegranate.
Legend has it that garnet can bring protection to the home, but it's also said to symbolise deep and everlasting friendship.
Traditionally the Amethyst birthstone is associated with a number of different properties, a few of which may include stability, peace, courage, balance, sincerity, inner strength and calm disposition. It is also believed that the February birthstone is known to have tremendous healing properties, which may help a great deal against removing the symptoms of headaches, addictions, arthritis, insomnia, circulatory system, pain relief, and general healing.
A March birthday is symbolised by aquamarine. Its mesmerising colour ranges from deep to pale pastel blue, reminiscent of the sea. The name is derived from the Latin language in which Aqua means water and marine means the sea.
For centuries, this beautiful stone has been thought to bring youth and health. Because of the serene colour of water and the sky that the gemstone has to offer, it promotes calmness and peace in the beholder and represents eternal life.
If you're lucky enough to have a birthday in April, the striking Diamond gem is your birthstone.
A diamond symbolises deep, everlasting love, purity, and faith. It is the hardest element that can be found in nature. – only another diamond can scratch a diamond. Even the name is derived from the Greek for 'invincible'.
Not only are Diamonds beautiful they also possess some physical characteristics that are unique. One of them is the way it can split white light into the colours of the rainbow. This is called dispersion and it is what gives Diamonds the sparkle that we all love.
One of Egyptian queen Cleopatra's favourite gems, the green emerald is the birthstone for May.
Emeralds have always been associated with fertility, loyalty, friendship, love, and rebirth but modern interpretation links them to wisdom, growth, and patience.
Like many of the other gemstones, the Emerald birthstone does also possess a range of healing properties. Such healing properties are specifically associated with the diseases related to fertility, eyes, headaches, and spine. As part of the traditional knowledge, Emerald gemstone has also been associated with improving the mental capabilities.
Pearls have an organic origin are not found within the Earth like most gemstones. Some are found naturally in mollusks inhabiting freshwater settings such as rivers or in the sea, while others are created inside the shells of certain species of clams and oysters.
Pearls do come in a wide range of natural shades and colours but are generally known to have lustrous creamy white hue. The type of oyster or mussel a pearl comes from determines their colour.
Popular for centuries because of their gleaming natural beauty, pearls symbolise purity.
July's birthstone, the ruby, is considered to be the king of the gems, known for its vibrant red colour.
The word comes from the Latin word for red- Ruber. The Sanskrit word for ruby is “ratnarj” and the loose translation for that is “king of the gems” which is why the ruby is known as “King of Gemstones”.
Ancient Hindus believed that rubies were a sign of protection from evil while others say that rubies attract good luck. Ancient Chinese warriors wore them on their armour and today due to their brilliant red hues they are the perfect symbol of love and passion.
It's also believed that a ruby will protect its wearer from evil as well as bestowing good fortune.
Peridot, August's birthstone, is lime green in colour and is believed to bring power and influence to its wearer.
It is also said to bring a wonderful year to whoever is wearing it. Other people believe that this gem has healing properties in addition to other magical powers, such as helping to protect the wearer from nightmares, attracting love and quieting feelings of anger as well as soothing nerves and warding off negative emotions.
September's birthstone, sapphire, is commonly thought of as blue, but can also be found in a variety of other colours too, like pink, orange, green, clear and yellow. Many don't believe it until they see it for themselves, but mystical colour-changing sapphires also exist, known as 'phenomenon' stones.
In a spiritual context, the sapphire is said to hold wisdom, power, and faith. Sapphires are said to protect the wearer from evil, stress, and harm and have long represented a promise of honesty, loyalty, and trust.
Known as the queen of the gems in ancient times, this beautiful stone got its nickname because it's made up of all the colours of the other gems. It even has a magical way of changing colour as the light catches it in the right spots.
The word ‘opal’ comes from the Greek word ‘opallos’ which means ‘to see a change’. This captures the essence of opals perfectly. No opal is the same as another and its design is very unique to the stone in which it is captured. They range in colour from milky white to blue-green, to red and yellow.
There are many superstitions and plenty of mythology associated with opals. In Europe, people used to believe the stone could make you invisible, while French superstition believes it to be a jinx. However, for a very long time, many have said that opal has healing powers.
Topaz is the main birthstone for this month - and it has great appeal, it is said to provide balance to emotions can help promote a harmonious lifestyle.
Shades of yellow, brown and honey take centre stage in topaz, but if you come across a pale pink or sherry red form, you're on to an exceptional find.
Delving into its history, the Greeks believed topaz heightened strength and could even make you invisible, while the Egyptians associated the golden gem with the sun god.
A member of the mineral family zoisite, December's birthstone tanzanite is a much-loved stone. Velvety blue in appearance, with rich overtones of purple, there aren't many other stones quite like it. The warm hues are associated with generosity and friendship.
Tanzanite can only be found in one place in the world - Tanzania, near Mount Kilimanjaro - so it's a rather special gem if you can get your hands on it.
Check out what day of the week you were born here