Garnet - January
The word “garnet” comes from the 14th century Middle English word gernet, meaning “dark red.” The word is derived from Latin granatum, which means “seed,” and is called so because of the gemstone’s resemblance to the beautifully red seeds of the pomegranate.
Garnet is the name of a group of minerals that come in a rainbow of colors, from the deep red of the pyrope garnet to the vibrant green of tsavorites. Some rare garnets are even blue, colorless, or—most rare of all—change colors in different lights. But the most common garnet color is a beautiful range of reds, from rust colored to deep violet-red.
Amethyst - February
Amethyst is purple quartz. It is a beautiful blend of violet and red that can be found in every corner of the world. The name comes from the Ancient Greek, derived from the word methustos, which means “intoxicated.” Ancient wearers believed the gemstone could protect them from drunkenness.
While amethyst is most commonly recognized to be a purple color, the gemstone can range from a light pinkish violet to a deep purple that can read more blue or red, depending on the light. Sometimes the same stone can have layers or color variants, so the way the gemstone is cut is important to the way the color shows in a finished piece.
Aquamarine - March
The serenely colored aquamarine invokes the tranquility of its namesake, the sea. In fact, the name “aquamarine” is derived from the Latin word aqua, meaning water, and marina, meaning the sea. Aquamarine is most often light in tone and ranges from greenish blue to blue-green. The color is usually more intense in larger stones, and darker blue stones are very valuable.
Like emeralds, this gemstone is a variety of a mineral called beryl. Large gemstones have been found all over the world, including one gemstone found in Brazil that weighed over 240 pounds. Aquamarine grows in large, six-sided crystals that can be up to a foot long. This makes it a great gemstone to be cut and polished in larger carats for bold statement jewelry pieces.
Diamond - April
You probably already know of the diamond’s toughness. In fact, it’s the hardest gemstone and is made of just one element: carbon. Its structure makes it 58 times harder than anything in nature. A diamond can only be cut with another diamond.
While it’s become nearly synonymous with wedding engagements, it’s also the perfect gemstone for individuals who want something that’s just as appropriate for everyday wear as it is for special occasions. Diamond gemstones come in several colors, including brown, yellow, red, pink, blue, and green. They range in intensity from faint to vivid.
Emerald - May
Emerald's name is derived from the Greek word smaragdus, meaning “green gem.” Like aquamarine, emerald is a variety of beryl, a mineral that grows with six sides and up to a foot in length. Emerald color can range from light green (though there is some argument whether these very light beryls are truly emeralds) to a deep, rich green.
Emeralds are also like aquamarine in that the way the color presents itself in jewelry depends on a good cut by a skilled gemologist. The deeper or more green an emerald is, the more valuable it is. The rarest emerald gemstones will appear to be an intense green-blue color.
Pearl - June
Pearls are the only gemstones made by living creatures. Mollusks produce pearls by depositing layers of calcium carbonate around microscopic irritants—usually a grain of sand, as it’s commonly believed—that get lodged in their shells. While any shelled mollusk can technically make a pearl, only two groups of bivalve mollusks (or clams) use mother-of-pearl to create the iridescent “nacreous” pearls that are valued in jewelry. These rare gemstones don’t require any polishing to reveal their natural luster.
Appropriately, the name “pearl” comes from the Old French perle, from the Latin perna meaning “leg,” referencing the leg-of-mutton shape of an open mollusk shell. Because perfectly round, smooth, natural pearls are so uncommon, the word “pearl” can refer to anything rare and valuable.
Ruby - July
Ruby is the red variety of the mineral corundum, colored by the element chromium. All other colors of gem-quality corundum are called sapphire, which means color is key for this royal gemstone. Accordingly, the name “ruby” comes from rubeus, the Latin word for red. In ancient Sanskrit, ruby translated to ratnaraj, which meant “king of precious stones.” These fiery gems have been treasured throughout history for their color and vitality.
The chromium that gives ruby its red color also causes fluorescence, which makes rubies glow like a fire from within. Paradoxically, chromium is also what makes this gem scarce because it can cause cracks and fissures. Few rubies actually grow large enough to crystallize into fine quality gems, and these can bring even higher prices than diamonds.
Peridot - August
Though peridot is widely recognized by its brilliant lime green glow, the origin of this gemstone’s name is unclear. Most scholars agree that the word “peridot” is derived from the Arabic faridat, which means “gem;” however, some believe it’s rooted in the Greek word peridona, meaning “giving plenty.” Perhaps that’s why peridot was, according to lore, associated with prosperity and good fortune.
Peridot is the rare gem-quality variety of the common mineral olivine, which forms deep inside the Earth’s mantle and is brought to the surface by volcanoes. In Hawaii, peridot once symbolized the tears of Pele, the volcano goddess of fire who controls the flow of lava. Rarely, peridot is also found inside meteorites.
Sapphire - September
Although sapphire typically refers to the rich, blue gemstone variety of the mineral corundum, this royal gemstone occurs in a rainbow of hues. Sapphires come in every color except red, which instead earn the classification of rubies.
The name “sapphire” comes from the Latin sapphirus and Greek sappheiros, meaning “blue stone,” though those words may have originally referred to lapis lazuli. Some believe it originated from the Sanskrit word sanipriya which meant “dear to Saturn.”
Sapphire gems are found in India, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam, Sri Lanka, China, and Australia.
Opal - October
The name “opal” originates from the Greek word opallios, which meant “to see a change in color.” The Roman scholar Pliny used the word opalus when he wrote about this gemstone’s kaleidoscopic “play” of rainbow colors that could simulate shades of any stone.
Opal’s classic country of origin is Australia. Seasonal rains soaked the parched Outback, carrying silica deposits underground into cracks between layers of rock. When the water evaporated, these deposits formed opal. Sometimes, silica seeped into spaces around wood, seashells and skeletons, resulting in opalized fossils. Wearing opal jewelry is well worth the extra care, though. For centuries, people have associated this precious gemstone with good luck. Though some modern superstitions claim that opals can be bad luck to anyone not born in October, this birthstone remains a popular choice.
Citrine - November
November’s birthstone, citrine, is a variety of quartz that ranges from pale yellow to a honey orange color. It takes its name from the citron fruit because of these lemon inspired shades.
Citrine’s yellow hues are caused by traces of iron in quartz crystals. This occurs rarely in nature, so most citrine gems on the market are made by heat treating other varieties of quartz—usually the more common, less expensive purple amethyst and smoky quartz to produce golden gemstones.
Blue Topaz - December
Topaz is believed to have been named after a small island in the Red Sea named ‘Topazos’ where golden stones were found. What’s interesting is that the gemstones discovered were not topaz, but peridot!
In the ancient times, many people wore this gem to treat low immunity, obesity, anxiety, muscle cramps, joint pains and diabetes. The stone was not only said to heal physical and mental issues, but also to prevent death.