Birthstones, Part I

I do not often use gemstones as I love to simply use the interplay between gold and silver, but sometimes certain pieces call out for gemstones. In these pieces, I use only the best quality, and as close to natural (heat-treatment is not unusual as a color enhancement, but I will not use dyed stones), stones I can find. All of the birthstones I list in this series of articles are available and can be requested in any pieces containing gemstones.



Birthstones

The modern system of birthstones was introduced in 1912. Prior to this, there were stones traditionally used for each month, said to date back to the breastplate of Aaron which contained twelve gemstones representing the twelve tribes of Israel. There are numerous legends and myths about birthstone healing powers and their therapeutic influence. The traditional stones are a great alternative if you either dislike your modern birthstone or when the modern stone is simply too expensive. While there are many variations, I’ve listed the most common birthstone(s) for each month.

January – Garnet

Garnet signifies eternal friendship and trust, and its use dates back
Garnet
to the Egyptians in 3100 B.C. The word garnet is derived from the word granatum, meaning seed, and is called so because of the gemstone’s resemblance to a pomegranate seed. This stone is most commonly found in Africa, Sri Lanka, and India and can be found in all colors ranging from a fiery orange to a rich green.


February – Amethyst

Amethyst (polished) by de:Wela49

Amethyst, most commonly found in beautiful shades of purple, is a member of the quartz family. Quartz is the most abundant mineral found in the Earth’s crust, next to Feldspar (a group of minerals containing soda, potassium and lime). Quartz can come in a variety of colors, due to the presence of impurities. The word impurities implies something negative, but when you look at the colors produced it is obvious this is a good thing. Pure quartz, often called rock crystal or clear quartz, is colorless and transparent. Some of the colored varieties of quartz include citrine, rose quartz, amethyst, smoky quartz, and milky quartz.

The beautiful purple hues of amethyst are produced when there is iron present when the quartz is formed. Often, amethyst is heat-treated to produce a richer purple color, and the color can fade somewhat when over-exposed to light. So, care should be taken when wearing your favorite amethyst pieces while sunbathing! Amethyst is found all over the world, but the largest deposits are found in Brazil, Mexico, Uruguay, Russia, France, Namibia and Morocco.

Amethyst has been used for jewelry and ornamentation for thousands of years. Widely considered to protect the wearer from intoxication, the Ancient Greeks decorated their drinking vessels with amethyst to protect from intoxication. This stone has been believed to have powers ranging from protection in battle to protection from seduction and many things in between, and it is often used during meditation practice. Often considered a stone of friendship and purity, it’s a perfect stone to symbolize February, the month containing Valentine’s Day.

March – Aquamarine

Aquamarine.
Attribution: Rob Lavinsky,
iRocks.com – CC-BY-SA-3.0
Aquamarine is a beautiful gemstone that comes in many different varying shades of blue and greenish-blue. With shades of the bright blue skies and beautiful oceans, aquamarine brings about pleasant, happy feelings. It is said this stone originated in the treasure chest of mermaids, and has long been considered a sailor’s lucky stone.

Aquamarine is related to the emerald, both belonging to the beryl family. The blue of the aquamarine is a result of the presence of iron, and this stone is special because it is often inclusion-free, resulting in a pure, clear blue. The more intense the color, the more the stone is valued.

Most of the aquamarine mined in the world comes from Brazil, although it has also been found in other parts of the world including the United States and some African countries. Aquamarine is often heat-treated to bring out the blues and limit the yellow tones, which produce a greener stone.


April – Diamond (alternative stone: Crystal Quartz)

Diamonds, long thought to be the symbol of everlasting love, are said to better relationships, increase inner strength, and bring the wearer balance, clarity and abundance. While often recognized as a near colorless stone, diamonds can be found in many different colors including pinks, blues, yellows, oranges, green, reds and browns. When purchasing a colored diamond, be sure to inquire as to whether it is natural or enhanced in a laboratory. Nearly half of diamonds originate from Central and Southern Africa, although significant sources of the mineral have been discovered in Canada, India, Russia, Brazil, and Australia.

Crystal Quartz, also called Clear Quartz or Rock Crystal, is considered an alternative to the very expensive and beautiful diamond and is the stone I use in my work. Quartz is the second most abundant mineral in the Earth’s continental crust after feldspar, and is a large family which includes crystal quartz, amethyst and citrine. Quartz has been called a “Universal Crystal” because of it’s many uses. This stone, valued by nearly every civilization, is thought to channel and enhance energy of all kinds. Most of the clear quartz on the market today comes from Brazil, the United States, and China.

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