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An In-Depth Guide to Birthstones

Pittsburgh jewelry expert breaks down the history of birthstones and what they each mean.

Lisa Marie Kotchey Jewelry
June 19, 2021

Birthstones have become an international jewelry trend and are a beautiful gift to give someone you love, but have you ever thought about the history behind them? As Pittsburgh jewelry experts, we’ve researched for you. Birthstones are a gorgeous and meaningful addition to any ring, necklace, or pair of earrings that allows someone to have a piece of their birthday with them every day. Dive into the history of birthstones and what the meaning is behind each one. 

Pittsburgh Jewelry Expert Breaks Down the History of Birthstones

The History of Birthstones in Western Culture

chart of birthstones
Image courtesy of Color Meanings.

The history of birthstones varies between Eastern and Western cultures. In the Eastern culture, the stones are tied to astrology and the zodiac signs. The Hindu builds astrological charts for every person at birth, including the constellations, sun, moon, and planets. These charts recommend a specific gemstone to the person that they can wear for safety throughout their life.

In Western cultures, the birthstones have a more biblical meaning and origin. In these Western beliefs, the stones evolve from a story in the Bible from the book of Exodus. The prophet Moses announced that a breastplate should be created for Aaron, the High Priest of the Hebrew people. This breastplate had twelve gemstones that represented the twelve tribes of Isreal, which are now the stones of every month. As Pittsburgh jewelry professionals, we use this history to add more meaning to each birthstone piece we design for our clients. We need to understand the history of the jewelry to appreciate each work to its highest potential. 


Birthstone: Garnet

About the stone: Garnet gemstones are most commonly red and were one of the most popular gemstones in the later years of the Roman Empire. This stone has an association with protection because explorers and travelers used it to emit light. In the present day, the garnet is a beautiful gift to show a loved one you want to be safe and protected.


Birthstone: Amethyst

About the stone: Amethyst is a member of the Quartz family and is known for being a symbol of wisdom. The meaning behind this stemmed from a Greek legend where Dionysius (the god of wine) threatened to punish the next mortal he came across, which was Amethystos. When Amethystos realized she was in trouble, she called out to Artemis, who turned her into a pure white statue. Moved by the figure, Dionysius dumped a glass of wine on it and turning it purple. From that day forward, Greeks would carry this stone around to take advantage of its power. 


Birthstone: Aquamarine 

About the stone: When first discovered, aquamarine was thought to cure heart, liver, and stomach diseases. All a person had to do was drink the water in which this gemstone was soaking in, and they would then be able to reap the rewards. Along with this, Sailors believed that aquamarine protected them from the dangers of the sea. 


Birthstone: Diamond

About the stone: Not only is the diamond a symbol of everlasting love but it is also believed to bring courage as well. In Hindu mythology, the diamond was the weapon of Indra, the king of gods. So, just like those who are born in April, this beautiful gem stands for strength and love. 


Birthstone: Emerald 

About the stone: The emerald was one of Cleopatra’s favorite gems and has long been associated with fertility, rebirth, and love. Ancient Romans dedicated this stone to Venus, the goddess of love and beauty. Today, emerald stones symbolize wisdom, growth, and patience. 


Birthstone: Pearl

About the stone: The pearl is the only organically made gemstone and is said to be the tears of Aphrodite herself. These stones are rumored to absorb emotions. For example, if you wear a pearl when you are angry, it will absorb the feeling and send the emotion back to you the next time you wear the pearl. 


Birthstone: Ruby

About the stone: Did you know that rubies hold more value than diamonds? In the Hindu religion, the ruby is known as the king of the gems. Soldiers in Burma would use rubies to become invincible during their battles. The rubies also symbolize nobility, devotion, and prosperity. When you are wearing this stone, it can allow you to overcome fears and personal challenges. 


Birthstone: Peridot 

About the stone: The peridot is known for its incredible olive-green color and gives the person wearing it a great deal of power. Researchers believe that the name ‘peridot’ comes from the Greek word ‘peridona,’ meaning ‘giving plenty.’ Thus, the peridot gives off good fortune to those who wear it. 


Birthstone: Sapphire

About the stone: The most popular color of the sapphire gem is blue, but it also comes in various colors like pink, green, white, and yellow. Sapphire represents serenity, peace, and calmness. In ancient religious writings, the stone was an example of faith and wisdom. During the Middle Ages, this gemstone was used to protect loved ones from harm.


Birthstone: Opal 

About the stone: The opal gemstone strengthens the memory and will to live for those that wear it — the stone has a history of bringing extreme luck. It is thought to treat infections and fevers, cleanse the body, and regulate insulin. In addition, Opal can be worn if you look for a deeper connection to others, expand psychic abilities, and even repel evil. 


Birthstone: Topaz

About the stone: The topaz gemstone is linked to wisdom and courage and is associated with strengthening the mind, heart, and body. Not only can it encourage better mental health, but it can even soothe physical pain too. 


Birthstone: Turquoise 

About the stone: Back in the day, French and Venetian traders used turquoise because this stone was so valuable and deposits were so rare. Turquoise is known for successfully aiding in physical and spiritual attraction. The gemstone contains anti-inflammatory and detoxifying effects that can alleviate cramps and pain. The attributes of the turquoise stone include love, achievements, and positivity. 

Each birthstone has a rich history and represents more than the month a person was worn. Using these gemstones in jewelry can show love and promote health, a happy life, and other positive attributes to the person wearing it. As jewelry experts in Pittsburgh, we can assist you in creating an incredible custom piece that revolves around any birthstone. Contact us today to get started on your meaningful one-of-a-kind piece.