A birthstone is a gift of a precious material that symbolizes the month of birth. There have been many different sets of birthstones used throughout history and in different cultures. In 1912, in an effort to standardize them, the American national association of jewelers, Jewelers of America, officially adopted the following list it is currently the most widely used list in the United States and many other locations, including Australia and Thailand.
January - Garnet
As a January birthstone, Aquarius Zodiac stone, and the second wedding anniversary gem, garnet provides a versatile family of affordable gems that can be enjoyed year-round. Garnet is actually the group name for a family of gemstones that come in every color except blue. They're beautiful, durable, and most garnets are very affordable.
February - Amethyst
Traditionally associated with royalty and luxury, the amethyst has become the February birthstone in this century. Amethyst is tough and durable, wears well, and gives modern men and women the look of royalty at very affordable prices.
March - Aquamarine
Aquamarine is tough, durable and takes an excellent polish. Aquas can be worn in rings and bracelets with minimal risk if the settings are designed to protect the gems. Avoid steam cleaning or excess heat. Clear stones, called eye-clean, are free of inclusions to the naked eye and can be worn under most conditions. Recently designers have begun combining aquamarines with golden citrines, emeralds or tsavorite garnets, sapphires and pink tourmalines to provide fresh fashion color palettes.
April - Diamond
April is the luckiest month of all, since diamonds are its birthstone. More and more women are dressing in these brilliant, dazzling gemstones as effortlessly as they throw on their favorite sweater. Actresses Gwyneth Paltrow and Halle Berry and super models Cindy Crawford and Stella Tennant, among others, are seen everywhere wearing their diamond solitaire necklaces.
May - Emerald
Emeralds will remain beautiful and durable for years if taken care of properly. Do what the experts advise: Avoid abrupt temperature changes and contact with rough or sharp surfaces, including those of other gemstones. Store your emeralds in a fabric-lined jewelry box or wrap them in a soft cloth or tissue. To ensure a long and safe life, have your jeweler check the setting at least once a year and clean the stone at that time.
June - Pearl
The qualities that make the pearl special also make it a perfect gift for the woman born in June. The gift of cultured pearls not only celebrates a woman's birthday, but gives a woman a lifetime treasure, steeped in historical lore and tradition.
July - Ruby
Rubies come in many shades of red. Rubies tend to be priced by color. The closer a gem is to the vivid red 'pigeon's blood' color, the higher the price. Many rubies are enhanced by heat treating to improve color, but the color is stable after treatment and does not require special care. Some rubies have fissures or surface breaks that are filled with a glass-like byproduct of the heating process. These stones do require special care in cleaning and wearing, but they are generally more affordable.
August - Peridot
In this century, peridot has become the August birthstone, the 16th anniversary gem, and the zodiac stone for Leo. It has also been alleged to encourage a positive emotional outlook on life, to prevent fear or guilt, and to help develop patience.
September - Sapphire
Sapphire is remarkably tough and safe in most types of cleaning. However, it should be given the same care as any other precious gem to avoid scratching. Most damage to sapphires occurs from rubbing them against another sapphire or diamond, careless handling and hard knocks directly to the stones. With the magnificent range of sapphire colors available at all price levels today, sapphire is not just the gem of wisdom, it's a wise buy as well.
October - Opal or Tourmaline
Opals have been used for everything from easing childbirth to bringing strength in battle. Long known as the Wish Stone, opal is supposed to promote love and romance and grant wishes and personal happiness. People born in October have tourmaline as another option for their birthstone. Like opal, tourmaline comes in a wide range of colors and sizes, ranging from dainty to huge, at virtually every price level. Also like opal, tourmaline is said to bring high energy, good luck, creativity and romance, depending on its color.
November - Topaz or Citrine
Both topaz and citrine were found on an island in the Mediterranean called Topazios in ancient times. Since the two gems were alike in color, though not in size or form, they were often mixed up. The most common topaz colors are brown, yellow, yellow-gold, and orange, all very similar to the shades of citrine. Topaz is reputed to increase understanding, strengthen breathing, prevent colds, enhance creativity, bring relaxation, control angry passions, restore energy, and aid in tissue regeneration.
December - Turquoise or Tanzanite
During the 16th century, turquoise was used as currency by the southwest Indians. They believed the gem could bring spoils to the warrior, animals to the hunter and happiness to all. Four centuries later turquoise became December's best-known birthstone. In 2002, the American Gem Trade Association officially added tanzanite to the traditional list of birthstones for the month of December.