If you’re considering buying birthstone jewelry for someone this holiday season, it’s important to know what you’re looking for.
The two most popular trends in fine jewelry are birthstones and diamonds. If you’re leaning towards a birthstone, you’re in good company. Birthstones, the majority of which are coloured gemstones, have been a popular way to personalize jewelry since ancient times. In Indian Aruveydic philosophy, each person is assigned a mystical stone that corresponded to his or her nature. Since then, many different cultures have used birthstones to confer luck on their wearers, and to commemorate birthdays, anniversaries, and romantic milestones.
In the 19th century, the birthstone system was standardized and became particularly popular in North America and Europe. While birthstones have changed over the centuries, the current system is as follows:
January – Garnet
Garnets come in many different colours, but the most popular kind is deep red. An affordable alternative to the ruby.
Feburary – Amethyst
Double-layered Birthstone and Diamond Accent Ring in Amethyst, $89, Jewlr.com
Amethyst is a form of quartz varying in colour from light lilac to dark purple. The gemstone is known as a symbol of peace and tranquility.
March – Aquamarine
Aquamarine gemstones exist in all shades of blue, though clear blue stones are the most valuable.
April – Diamond
The most durable substance on earth, diamonds are traditionally clear and colourless. They symbolize courage and true love.
May – Emerald
Emerald Birthstone Family Tree Necklace, $239, Jewlr.com
Emeralds vary from light to dark green, though bright, brilliant green is the most popular. Traditionally, they are linked to fertility.
June – Pearl
Pearls are the naturally occurring products of mollusks, but cultured pearls are more common today. The most popular kind of pearl is off-white, though coloured cultured pearls are becoming more common.
July – Ruby
Ruby shades vary from light to dark red. Many rubies have an underlying purplish cast. Traditionally, rubies were thought to make their wearers wise.
August – Peridot
Peridot Heart Birthstone Ring, $179, Jewlr.com
Peridots are lime green stones that often shade towards olive or brown. In ancient cultures, peridots symbolized the sun.
September – Sapphire
Sapphires come in all shades of blue, with cornflower blue being the most popular. A traditional association for the sapphire is happiness.
October – Opal
A soft gemstone, the opal is often embedded with brilliant flashes of several colours. Tradition links the opal to the quality of innocence.
November – Yellow topaz
While topaz can be treated to produce many different colours, November is associated with the yellow topaz gemstone. Citrine is another alternative for a November birthstone.
December – Turquoise
Blue Topaz Birthstone Curve Ring, $269, Jewlr.com
Turquoise is a soft, opaque stone that ranges in colour from aquamarine to vivid blue and green.
There is a reason that birthstone jewelry is so popular for gift jewelry: it’s a very personal, intimate statement. By giving someone you care about a piece of jewelry featuring their birthstone, you are letting them know that you recognize and appreciate their uniqueness, and that you put thought into the gift.
If the person you’re shopping for doesn’t like the idea of birthstone jewelry, a coloured gemstone can still make a fun statement. Choose one in their favorite colour, or that evokes a quality or experience that is important to them. Green gemstones might be special to the eco-aware person in your life, while a ruby pendant could be perfect for someone who is passionate and romantic.
Due to the lower price of coloured gemstones, it is not as daunting to buy a birthstone promise ring than one featuring a diamond. Nevertheless, do your research! Spend time on the internet or in the library learning the markers of quality for the birthstone you intend to purchase. And always buy birthstone jewelry from reputable dealers who know the origins of their gemstones and disclose all treatments that have been performed on them.
Love birthstones, but shopping for a diamond instead? Come back next Monday for our guide to buying diamond jewelry for a holiday gift.