Birthstone Legend & Lore

Through the centuries, color gemstones have been attributed with a variety of powers, both mystical and practical. See what the ancients thought about your birthstone. Or check out the birthstone of someone you love. But be advised…we don't recommend any of these home remedies!

January's Birthstone - Garnet
From the Latin word "granatus," meaning "seedlike (as in pomegranate seed), the garnet was known as the "carbuncle" in ancient times. Here are some other fun facts:

  • A gift suggested for the 2nd or 18th anniversary
  • Believed to cure heart palpitations, lung diseases and skin diseases
  • Garnet was thought to represent faith, consistency, loyalty and truth.
  • Insured restful sleep and good dreams
  • Believed to give guidance at night
  • Provided protection in travel
  • Helped the wearer resist melancholy and warn off evil spirits
  • Believed to inspire contemplation and induce a joyous state
  • Offered its wearer the power to protect their standing and possessions.
  • Ancient warriors believed that garnets brought victory
  • The Crusaders used them as protection against wounds and accidents.
  • Asiatic warriors believed that glowing garnets used as bullets inflicted more severe wounds.
  • Garnet jewelry dating back to the bronze age was found in the graves of ancient lake dwellers in the current Czech Republic.
  • Legend holds that Noah hung a large garnet in the ark for illumination.
  • In the 13th century garnet was worn to repel insects, evil spirits and the evil eye
  • In Egyptian times garnet was placed into tombs with the dead as payment to the gods for safe passage to the nether world

February's Birthstone - Amethyst
From the Greek world amethustos meaning "not drunk," amethyst was said to prevent intoxication. Here are some other things you may not know about February's birthstone:

  • Gift suggestion for 6th Anniversary
  • Was believed to bring forth the highest, purest aspirations of humankind.
  • Symbol of chastity, sobriety, wisdom, strength and confidence
  • Amethyst guarded against the anger of passion
  • Encouraged calmness, bravery, and contemplation.
  • Would prevent death from poison if engraved with the circle of the sun or moon.
  • Amethyst was said to prevent baldness and improve the complexion.
  • Called the Bishop’s stone, it had magical protection for Christian protectors; purple has since been seen as a holy color.
  • Was a favorite stone of Catherine the Great.
  • In Tibet, amethyst is considered to be sacred to Buddha.
  • Said to be the signet ring worn by Cleopatra.

March's Birthstone - Aquamarine
Named for the Latin “beryllus aquamarinus,” meaning “water of the sea," aquamarine was said to be the treasure of mermaids with the power to keep sailors safe at sea.

  • Stone suggested for a 19th anniversary
  • Aquamarine was worn to cleanse air and water while bringing protection at sea
  • Thought to symbolize peace and tranquility, youth, hope and health.
  • Aquamarine was said to bring enhanced concentration and psychic power.
  • Said to cure belching and yawning.
  • Thought to bring victory in battles and legal disputes.
  • Believed to reawaken love in long-married couples.
  • Said to protect against poisoning and relieve toothaches.
  • Beads of Aquamarine were found in ancient Egyptian mummy tombs.
  • To dream of aquamarine signifies the making of new friends.
  • To wear aquamarine earrings brings love and affection.
  • Aquamarine was used as a tribute gemstone to the gods of the Nether world for safe passage.
  • People have used Aquamarine in ceremonies in the belief that it would bring rain when needed, or visit drought upon their enemies.
  • Color thought to be symbolic of the moon.
  • When worn as an amulet, aquamarine was reputed to bring relief of pain and to make the wearer more friendly, quicken the intellect, and cure laziness.
  • Considered sacred to Neptune, the god of the sea.

April's Birthstone - Diamond
From “adamas,” Greek for unconquerable, diamond is referred to as the "king gem."

  • The first river-bed diamonds were probably discovered around 800 B.C. in India.
  • It was not until the 16th century that the Diamond was able to be cut and polished, thereby yielding its true beauty.
  • Said to ward off devils, phantoms and nightmares.
  • Imparted virtue, generosity, courage in battle.
  • Believed to cause lawsuits to be determined in the wearer’s favor.
  • A house or garden touched at each corner with a diamond was presumed to be protected from storms and blight.
  • Believed to render all poisons harmless.
  • Cupid’s arrows were said to be tipped with diamonds which had a magic that nothing else could equal.
  • Ancient Hindus believed diamonds were created by bolts of lightning.
  • The Hindus believed that a flawed diamond was so unlucky that it could even deprive the god Indra of his highest heaven.
  • Ancient Greeks wore diamonds into battle on their shields believing the stones could bring them invincibility.
  • One belief held that diamonds could determine guilt or innocence. If the accused was guilty, the diamond would become darker. In the presence of innocence, however, it would glow with increased brilliance.
  • Marbode, Bishop of Rennes, wrote “This stone has aptitude for magical arts, indomitable virtues it provides the bearer, nocturnal spirits and bad dreams it repels, black poisons flee, disputes and screams are changed. Cures insanity, strikes hard against enemies. For these purposes the stone should be set in silver, armored in gold, and fastened to the left arm.”
  • Diamonds were believed to render their owners courageous and fearless. Thus nobles like Cosimo the Elder, Florence (1389-1464), Henry II of France (1519-59), and perhaps the Dukes of Burgandy used them as symbols in rings and even wore them into battle.

May's Birthstone - Emerald
"Emerald" comes from the Greek “smaragdos” which means green stone.

  • Egyptians believed Emeralds stood for fertility and rebirth.
  • Stone suggested for 20th  and 35th anniversary.
  • Signet of strength, faith, loyal friendship, and a guide of success in love, marriage and motherhood.
  • Emerald was said to be good for eye ailments and irritations.
  • Said to cure infertility and ease childbirth
  • Warded off evil sorcery and demonic possession.
  • Aided the liver and guarded against fits and convulsions
  • Emerald gave its owner the gift of eloquence.
  • Nero viewed the gladiators through emerald glasses.
  • The Holy Grail was said to have been a bowl made from emerald.
  • Emerald was used in the Middle Ages to foretell the future.
  • Early stone cutters kept an Emerald on their workbench to rest their eyes on its
    soothing color.
  • Cleopatra prized her emeralds more then any other gem
  • Mummies were often buried with an emerald symbolizing eternal youth
  • Dedicated to the goddess Venus and Aphrodite, and the Egyptian god Toth

June's Birthstone - Pearl
Symbolic of purity and chastity, pearls were once associated with the moon.

  • Stone suggested for 3rd and 30th year anniversary.
  • Among the treasures sent to Europe by the Conquistadors.
  • Long used in Asian medicine. Rich in calcium, pearls were believed to be very effective in aiding indigestion and curing heartburn.
  • The Chinese have a legend that pearls fall to Earth as rain when dragons fight in the sky, and that pearls offer protection against fire breathing dragons.
  • Western beliefs held that pearls could cure mental illness and soothe heartbreak for the wearer.
  • Symbolized a happy marriage.
  • Pearls were also the symbol of femininity and female sensuality, sacred to the goddess Aphrodite.
  • A talisman of wisdom
  • Thought to be a powerful aphrodisiac, and to attract love.
  • Queen Elizabeth I, wore dresses studded with pearls of incredible richness. She was reputed to have confiscated several fine pearl necklaces from Mary, Queen of Scots.
  • Attributed to the goddess Venus as a symbol of innocence.
  • The queen gem and emblem of purity, pearl is the stone of the Virgin Mary and St. Margaret.
  • In ancient times, pearls were associated with Moon worship

July's Birthstone - Ruby
From Latin word “Ruber” meaning red, ruby is second in hardness only to diamond.

  • The Burmese believed that ruby ripened in the ground, starting as yellow and changing and deepening until it achieved its vibrant crimson color.
  • Tied to curing diseases of the blood and to stop bleeding; said to keep away plague and relieve pain.
  • Tales are told of warriors who had rubies implanted under their skin to bring valor in battle.
  • Said to bring peace, ward off sorrow, and attract and maintain love
  • Thought to guard homes and fields against storms and catastrophe.
  • Ruby was said to inspire boldness and bring success in business
  • Said to warn its owner against disaster by turning black when danger was near.
  • In the Hindu religion, Ruby is ranked first among gemstones. It is said to be the highest offering to Krishna.
  • In the Orient, rubies were once believed to contain the spark of life -- “a deep drop of the heart’s blood of Mother Earth.”
  • Greek legends told the story of a female stork, who repaid the kindness of Heraclea by bringing her a brilliant ruby -- a ruby so bright that it illuminated Heraclea’s room at night.
  • It is said that Catherine of Aragon, first wife of King Henry VIII, predicted her downfall in seeing the darkening of her ruby.
  • n his 13th century books of his travels, Marco Polo relates the tale of a magnificent gemstone -- believed to be a ruby nine inches long and as thick as a man’s arm -- belonging to the King of Ceylon. Kublai Khan, the Emperor of China offered an entire city in exchange for the enormous stone, to which the King of Ceylon replied that he would never part with his prize for all the treasures of the world.
  • Its protective powers were intensified when set in jewelry, and worn on the left side.
  • A ruby also glowed atop the Temple of the Holy Grail.

August's Birthstone - Peridot
Zebargad (the Arabic word for Peridot), the original source for peridot, is an island about 50 miles off the coast of Egypt in the Red Sea. It may have been mined as early as 1500B.C. It was called the Serpent Isle, since its many poisonous snakes interfered with mining activity. Eventually an Egyptian ruler had the snakes killed and kept the miners isolated at work on the island. Because the rich green stones were so coveted, guards of the deposits were told to kill any unauthorized travelers approaching the island.

  • The Ancient Egyptians knew it as the gem of the sun. Because of its brightness in the desert sun, the stones were supposedly invisible by daylight. In darkness, however, they were alleged to give off a light of their own. By night, miners were said to mark their locations accordingly and return to recover their treasures by day.
  • Peridot is also known as “Olivine.”
  • Stone suggested for 16th Anniversary
  • Set in gold, peridot was thought to protect its wearer from nightmares and terrors of the night, and to ward off the evil eye.
  • Symbolized warmth and charity.
  • Romans wore peridot to repel terror, enchantment, and melancholy.
  • Said to bring happiness and good cheer, attract lovers, and strengthen the eyes.
  • Aided in digestion and thought to be a cure for liver ailments.
  • Believed to have the power to dissolve enchantments.
  • As a medical remedy peridot was powdered to cure asthma. Holding a peridot under the tongue was supposed to lessen the thirst of a person suffering from fever.
  • Peridot was kept secret from the West from Biblical times until the seventeenth century.
  • Many peridots were taken to Europe by the Crusaders (under the mistaken belief they were emeralds)where they were kept in cathedrals.
  • The Ancient Greeks believed that peridot brought royal dignity upon its wearer.
  • Some of the finest peridot stones are called “evening emeralds” because they appear greener under artificial light.
  • Favored by pirates.

September's Birthstone - Sapphire
From the Greek “sapphiros”, “beloved of Saturn,” sapphire has long symbolized truth, sincerity and faithfulness.

  • Stone suggested for 5th or 45th anniversary.
  • Blue sapphire has been a holy stone to the Catholic church, and to ancient Persians, who believed that Sapphire made the sky blue.
  • Identified with chastity, piety, and repentance, and it is said that King Solomon wore a Sapphire ring.
  • Sapphire would keep one’s thoughts pure and heavenly and help those in the right find justice in legal matters.
  • Known to attract love, heal the eyes, keep one out of prison and influence spirits.
  • Sapphire was the symbol of faith and goodness
  • Said to ward off poisonous creatures and kill snakes hiding nearby.
  • It would cool fevers, sharpen eyesight, and protect against mental illness.
  • Tradition holds that Moses was given the ten commandments on tablets of sapphire, making it the most sacred gemstone. Because sapphires represent divine favor, they were the gemstone of choice for kings and high priests.
  • The substance of God’s throne; the seal of Solomon; the foundation stone of St. Paul
  • According to St. Jerome, sapphire gains the goodwill of princes, liberates the captive, counteracts sorcery and enemy plots and assuages the wrath of God.
  • Persians believed they were made of the last drops of amrita, the elixir of immortality.

October's Birthstone - Opal
Derived from the Latin “opalus” meaning “seeing jewel,” opal was said to have fallen from heaven in flashes of lightning, thus producing its fiery color.

  • Stone suggested for 14th anniversary.
  • Accepted as a symbol of faithfulness and confidence in ancient times.
  • Linked to invisibility and astral projection.
  • Opal was believed to increase one's mental capacity.
  • Symbol of hope and inspiration
  • Opal improved eyesight, made the wearer invisible, fostered spiritual awareness, eased stress, promoted concentration and meditative powers, instilled a sense of well being and strengthened the heart.
  • Napoleon gave Josephine a beautiful opal with brilliant red flashes called “the Burning of Troy” making her his Helen.
  • Queen Victoria often gave opals as wedding presents. She and her daughters popularized opals in fashion jewelry.
  • The Ancient Romans called it the “Queen of Gems” because it encompassed the colors of all the other gems.  They revered opal as a symbol of hope and purity and held it to be second only to the prized emerald.
  • Able to ward off lightning and give the cloak of invisibility to its wearer when desired.
  • Granted vigor, aided the heart and kidneys, protected against fainting and infection.
  • Ancient Oriental peoples called opal the “anchor of hope.”
  • Cleansed foul-smelling air.
  • During the medieval period, a change in color intensity of an opal was believed to indicate if its wearer was in ill or good health.
  • Favored children, the theatre and friends.

November's Birthstone - Citrine
A form of quartz, citrine gets its name from the French for lemon, “citron”

  • Symbolized truth and integrity.
  • Stone suggested for 13th Anniversary.
  • Mythology’s “Stone of strength," citrine was revered by emperors and kings.
  • In ancient times, citrine was carried as a protection against snake venom and evil thoughts.
  • Associated with the tribe Naphtali.
  • Citrine was said to protect against plague and skin diseases.

December's Birthstone - Blue Topaz
A 13th century belief held that a topaz engraved with a falcon helped its wearer cultivate the goodwill of kings, princes and magnates.

  • Stone suggested for 4th and 23rd Anniversaries
  • Dispelled cowardice
  • Topaz calmed the temper
  • Cured madness and plague
  • Sharpened the wit.
  • It was said that topaz aided in sleep and eliminated nightmares
  • Powdered topaz added to wine was used to prevent asthma.
  • Used as a cure for rheumatism and soreness in the joints
  • It was thought topaz could guard against sudden death.
  • Effective against bleeding and heart disease.
  • Topaz was said to lose color to indicate poison was present.
  • Thought to bring fidelity and friendship if worn constantly.
  • An effective talisman against accident and fire
  • Topaz brought increased intuition and long life.
  • Christian symbol of righteousness and virtue.
  • Worn as a pendant it would relieve thirst
  • Ideal stone for travelers.
  • Dispelled enchantment and improved eyesight.
  • Its powers waxed and waned with the phases of the moon.
  • Used to control heat.
  • Was thought to cool boiling water

From “adamas,” Greek for unconquerable, diamond is referred to as the "king gem."