They are gemstones, of course – some precious, some semi-precious. There are different stones for each month. The wearer can benefit from certain attributes attributed to each stone . The correct stone might confer Peace, protection or wisdom. But that’s not even the half of it.

The idea of birthstones dates back at least to ancient Babylon and India (‘ayurvedic’ birthstones). In Tibet, a different system developed – (‘mystical’ birthstones). Each tradition associated different ‘powers’ with stones: birthstones connected to the planets and later to the signs of the zodiac. These attributions changed over time. The ancient Babylonians connected diamonds with Libra, the Greeks with Cancer and the Byzantines with Aries.

Finding your birthstone

Your birthstone depends on which astrological chart you use.  Ayurvedic, Traditional, Mystical or Modern charts are available. You might also choose a zodiac stone or a monthly stone. Some months have a choice of stones and a choice of color within that range.

Twelve garnets were sewn onto a breastplate worn by Aaron, a high priest and brother of Moses according to the Bible.  Each garnet represented one of the twelve tribes of Israel. Flavius Josephus writing in the first century AD described this breastplate and attributed the stones to the signs of the zodiac. Later on, the Christian church, disapproving of astrology, assigned the stones to holy guardian angels.

Health benefits of birthstones

In eighteenth century Poland it became fashionable to wear your birthstone as an amulet for its supposed therapeutic properties. These were times when the attentions of a doctor were often more likely to kill than cure. A belief in such therapeutic or mystical powers must have been reassuring for many. However things could get complicated. For example Amethyst was said to cure drunkenness, but as this was the birthstone for February, you couldn’t wear one if you were born in that month. And so on. The different systems were not only confusing but could also have been bad for the jewellery business.

This was probably the impetus for the Jewelers of America (National Association of American Jewelers) in Kansas City to come up with the list now used as the ‘modern table’ in 1912.  If you just want to wear the stone of your zodiac sign, look up the zodiac stones. It’s a world of choice and can be fun.

Here are the birthstones according to various charts:


Birth Month Modern Birthstones Traditional Birthstones Mystical Birthstones Ayurvedic Birthstones 15th-20th Century Birthstones
January Garnet Garnet Emerald Garnet Garnet
February Amethyst Amethyst Bloodstone Amethyst Amethyst, Hyacinth, Pearl
March Aquamarine Bloodstone Jade Bloodstone Bloodstone, Jasper
April Diamond Diamond Opal Diamond Diamond, Sapphire
May Emerald Emerald Sapphire Agate Agate, Emerald
June Pearl, Moonstone Alexandrite Moonstone Pearl Agate, Cat’s Eye, Turquoise
July Ruby Ruby Ruby Ruby Onyx, Turquoise
August Peridot Sardonyx Diamond Sapphire Carnelian, Moonstone, Sardonyx, Topaz
September Sapphire Sapphire Agate Moonstone Chrysolite
October Opal, Tourmaline Tourmaline Jasper Opal Beryl, Opal
November Yellow Topaz, Citrine Citrine Pearls Topaz Pearl, Topaz
December Blue Topaz, Turquoise, Tanzanite Zircon, Turquoise, Lapis Lazuli Onyx Ruby Bloodstone, Ruby

Zodiac Stones

Sign Dates Stone
Aquarius 20 January – 18 February Garnet
Pisces 19 February – 20 March Aquamarine
Aries 21 March – 19 April Diamond
Taurus 20 April – 20 May Sapphire
Gemini 21 May – 20 June Agate
Cancer 21 June – 22 July Emerald
Leo 23 July – 22 August Onyx
Virgo 23 August – 22 September Carnelian
Libra 23 September – 22 October Peridot
Scorpio 23 October – 21 November Beryl
Sagittarius 22 November – 21 December Topaz
Capricorn 22 December – 19 January Ruby