[I'm a diamond in case you were struggling to think of the perfect gift for me or whatever... ;) ]
Human beings are naturally drawn toward objects that have been deemed special or "sacred." I think it's that part of us that yearns to feel connected to a higher power, energy or force - to feel connected to something that is bigger than ourselves. Sometimes, we need to be reminded that while our bodies may be small - our energy, our vibration, our power ISN'T! How lovely then to be able to use the earth's natural, majestic minerals as a means to harness and supercharge our own personal power!
Originally, it seems, the stones assigned to each month related to the stones that appeared on the breastplate of the Jewish high priest, Aaron. Each different stone represented one of the twelve tribes of Israel. (Who knew?!) In addition, something interesting to me, was that in ancient times it was actually more about the color of the stone than the specific stone. So for example, a ruby and a garnet would have been interchangeable. That's good news, because you're budget doesn't have to crash your party...you can just wear the corresponding color!
I hope you'll consider having a little fun by harnessing the incredible powers of the color/minerals of the month - especially your own. Cheers to good luck, good health, and good vibes!
The word garnet is comes from the 14th-Century Middle English word “gernet,” which means ‘dark red’. Gernet is derived from the Latin word “granatum” which means ‘seed’ - likely a reference to the garnet’s resemblance to a pomegranate seed. The garnet is so durable, remnants of garnet jewelry can be found as far back as the Bronze Age. Other references date back to 3100 BC when the Egyptians used garnet as inlays in their jewelry and carvings. This gemstone was often used as a talisman for protection both by warriors going into battle and to those who wanted to ward off pestilence and plague. Some ancient healers and wise men even placed garnets in wounds and praised its healing powers. It is said that the garnet can bring peace, prosperity and good health to the home. Some have called it the “Gem of Faith.” It is believed that those who wear it and do good will invite more good, as well as the reverse - those who wear garnets while committing bad acts with bring more bad vibes upon themselves.
The name amethyst comes from the Ancient Greek word “methustos,” which means 'intoxicated.' The ancient Greeks and Romans believed the gemstone could protect them from drunkenness - warding off the intoxicating powers of Bacchus. In addition, amethyst is said to keep the wearer clear-headed and quick-witted.
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. Because of its resemblance to the ocean, sailors used to wear talismans made of aquamarine depicting the god Neptune, who ruled the seas. With the help of their god, they believed the aquamarine would offer them protection from the elements as well as guarantee a safe voyage. The serene blue or blue-green color of aquamarine is said to cool the temper, allowing the wearer to remain calm and levelheaded thus cultivating more inner tranquility.
Bloodstone is also called "heliotrope," a word derived from ancient Greek that means “to turn the sun.” It was probably so named because of ancient ideas about how minerals reflect light - some believed that the sun itself would turn red if this stone was put into water. The Babylonians used bloodstone in their divination. The Egyptians prized bloodstone because they believed it helped them to magically defeat their enemies. They also believed it increased their strength or made them invisible. Still others believed that bloodstone could help control or change the weather, win legal battles, or give the gift of prophecy. Today, many still cherish bloodstone as a lucky charm or amulet and is prized by athletes or those who wish to increase their personal strength. Some believe it helps with mental clarity or increasing creativity or even boosting overall energy.
Diamonds are the most familiar of gemstones and have a rich and interesting history. Adopted from the Greek work adamas, meaning “invincible,” diamonds come in a wide range of colors such as black, blue, green, pink, red, purple, orange and yellow. The color is dependent upon the type of impurities that are present in the stone. They are made solely of carbon and are 58 times harder than anything else in nature - they can actually only be cut WITH another diamond. They form deep within the earth and typically only reach the surface through violent volcanic eruptions. You can imagine then, why the diamond has long been a symbol of endurance and, furthermore, eternal and lasting love. Wearing a diamond is not only thought to provide the wearer with better relationships and an increased inner strength, but also balance, clarity and abundance. Ancient theories tout the magical powers of diamonds: some thought lightning bolts formed diamonds, while other theories asserted that diamonds were the tears of god.
As the birthstone for May, the emerald, a symbol of rebirth, is believed to grant the owner foresight, good fortune, and youth. (Sign me up.) You have to dig through a few languages to get to the root of the word, “emerald” - or ”bright green precious stone.” First you find emeraude, then from Old French esmeraude (12c.), digging deeper from Medieval Latin esmaraldus, then Latin smaragdus, and finally the Greek “smaragdos meaning ”green gem.” (...thanks for you patience there.) Cleopatra is perhaps the most famous historical figure to cherish emeralds. She was so taken by them that she claimed ownership of all the emerald mines in Egypt during her reign. On the other side of the world, the Muzo Indians of Colombia had well-hidden and prized emerald mines…the mines were so hidden, it took the Spanish conquistadors nearly twenty years to find them. Today, the legendary Columbian emerald mines continue to produce the finest specimens. The emerald is a symbol of loyalty, new beginnings, peace, and security.
Pearls are the only gemstones made by living creatures. Mollusks produce pearls by depositing layers of calcium carbonate around microscopic irritants that get lodged in their shells—usually not a grain of sand, as commonly believed. Ancient Japanese folktales told that pearls were created from the tears of mythical creatures like mermaids and nymphs. Early Chinese civilizations believed that dragons carried pearls between their teeth, and the dragon must be slain to claim the pearls—which symbolized wisdom. Other cultures associated pearls with the moon, calling them “teardrops of the moon.” Hindu folklore explained that dewdrops fell from the moon into the sea, and Krishna picked one for his daughter on her wedding day.
As its name implies, moonstone is closely associated with lunar mystery and magic. Its calming, balancing energies can supposedly attune to natural biological rhythms. Moonstone acts as the ultimate fertility crystal by sparking passion in new lovers and reuniting old ones. Also known as the Traveler’s Stone, it’s believed to protect travelers at night. Moonstone is used to treat insomnia and sleepwalking, encourage sound sleep and create beneficial dreams.
According to legend, alexandrite was named for Alexander II because it was discovered on the future czar’s birthday in 1834. Because alexandrite’s red and green hues matched Russia’s military colors, it became the official gemstone of Imperial Russia’s Tsardom. Not only were Russian jewelers fascinated by this rare chameleon-like gem, but so was George Frederick Kunz, the master gemologist at Tiffany & Co. who produced a series of alexandrite rings between the late 19th and early 20th century.
The name “ruby” comes from rubeus, the Latin word for red. These fiery gems have been treasured throughout history for their 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. Interestingly, the red fluorescence power of ruby helped build the first working laser in 1960. Rubies—both natural and synthetic—are still used to make lasers, as well as watches and medical instruments. Ancient Hindus referred to it as "the king of gems," and royalty used ruby to ward off evil because it was believed to have magical powers. One such magical power was that the ruby would get darker in the presence of evil and lighter when the evil was gone—but only if possessed by its rightful owner. Historically, many cultures have admired the ruby as a symbol of love, passion, and prosperity.
Most scholars agree that the word “peridot” is derived from the Arabic faridat which means “gem,” but some believe it’s rooted in the Greek word peridona, meaning “giving plenty.” (Perhaps that’s why peridot is associated with prosperity and good fortune!) Peridot's stunning beauty and bright color caused the ancient Egyptians to call it "the gem of the sun." It was believed that peridot glowed with its own inner light even after sunset, and that miners used to locate the stones at night to retrieve them during the day. Peridot is said to possess healing properties that protect against nightmares and evil, ensuring peace and happiness.
Sardonyx has been used as a stone of strength and protection since ancient times. Ancient Greeks and Romans went to battle wearing sardonyx talismans engraved with images of heroes and gods like Hercules and Mars. They believed the stone could harness the bravery of those figures, granting them courage, victory and protection on the battlefield. Sardonyx was a popular stone for Roman seals and signet rings that were used to imprint wax emblems on official documents—due to the fact that hot wax doesn’t stick to this stone. During Renaissance times, sardonyx was associated with eloquence. Public speakers and orators wore it to aid clear thinking and communication. Some believe that placing sardonyx at each corner of a house will grant protection against evil.
In the gem world, spinel could easily earn the title of “Most Underappreciated Gem.” Throughout history, it was often confused with ruby and sapphire. Some of the most famous rubies in history have turned out to be spinel. Large red gems, such as the “Black Prince’s ruby” and the “Timur ruby” in the Crown Jewels of England have confirmed to be large red spinels. It is connected with energy renewal, encouragement in difficult circumstances, and rejuvenation.
Sapphires were believed to have special protective powers, such as preventing envy and protecting the wearer from poisoning. Some ancient cultures even thought that if a sapphire container held a venomous snake, it would die. Sapphire comes in every color of the rainbow, although blue sapphire is the most popular—representing wisdom, loyalty and nobility. This stone is said to focus the mind, encourage self-discipline and channel higher powers. Greeks wore sapphire for guidance when seeking answers from the oracle. Buddhists believed it brought spiritual enlightenment, and Hindus used it during worship. Early Christian kings cherished sapphire’s powers of protection by using it in ecclesiastical rings. Ancient Hebrews believed that the Ten Commandments were engraved on tablets of sapphire, although historians now believe the blue stone referenced in the Bible may have been lapis lazuli...
The name "tourmaline" comes from the Sinhalese words tura mali, which mean "stone of mixed colors." As its name implies, tourmaline stands apart from other gems with its broad spectrum of colors in every shade of the rainbow. Egyptian legend tells that tourmaline found its famed array of colors when, on its journey up from the earth’s center, it passed through a rainbow. Because of its colorful occurrences, tourmaline has been confused with other gems throughout history. As it turns out, tourmaline is not one mineral, but a fairly complex group of minerals with different chemical compositions and physical properties. One of this gem’s most impressive traits is its ability to become electrically charged through heat (pyroelectricity) and through pressure (piezoelectricity). When charged, tourmaline can act as a magnet by oscillating, and by attracting or repelling particles of dust. Ancient magicians used black tourmaline as a talisman to protect against negative energy and evil forces. Today, many still believe that it can shield against radiation, pollutants, toxins and negative thoughts.
The name “opal” originates from the Greek word opallios, which meant “to see a change in color.” Opal’s characteristic “play-of-color” was explained in the 1960's, when scientists discovered that it’s composed of microscopic silica spheres that diffract light to display various colors of the rainbow. These flashy gems are called “precious opals;” those without play-of-color are “common opals.” According to Arabic legend, opals fell from the sky in bolts of lightning. Australian aborigines, meanwhile, believed that the creator came to earth on a rainbow, leaving these colorful stones where his feet touched the ground. The water content of opal can range from three to 21 percent – usually between 6 and 10 in gem-quality material. This, combined with hardness of only 5.5 to 6 on the Mohs scale, makes opal a delicate gem that can crack or “craze” under extreme temperature, dehydration or direct light. Wearing opal is well worth the extra care, though. For centuries, people have associated this gem with good luck. Though some recent superstitions claim that opals can be bad luck to anyone not born in October, this birthstone remains a popular choice.
Through much of history, all yellow gems were considered topaz and all topaz was thought to be yellow. Topaz is actually available in many colors, and it’s likely not even related to the stones that first donned its name. Pure topaz is colorless, but it can become tinted by impurities to take on any color of the rainbow. Precious topaz, ranging in color from brownish orange to yellow, is often mistaken for “smoky quartz” or “citrine quartz,” respectively—although quartz and topaz are also unrelated minerals. The most prized color is Imperial topaz, which features a vibrant orange hue with pink undertones. Blue topaz, although increasingly abundant in the market, very rarely occurs naturally and is often caused by irradiation treatment. During the Renaissance in Europe, people believed that topaz could break spells and quell anger. Hindus deemed topaz sacred, believing that a pendant could bring wisdom and longevity to one’s life. African shamans also treated the stone as sacred, using it in their healing rituals. Russia’s Ural Mountains became a leading source of topaz in the 19th century. The prized pinkish orange gemstone mined there was named Imperial topaz to honor the Russian czar, and only royals were allowed to own it.
Citrine takes its name from the citron fruit because of its lemon-inspired shades. The pale yellow color of citrine closely resembles topaz, which explains why November’s two birthstones have been so easily confused throughout history. Citrine is sometimes known as the “healing quartz” for its ability to comfort, soothe and calm. It can release negative feelings, spark imagination and manifest fresh beginnings. It’s even called the “merchant’s stone” for its tendency to attract wealth and prosperity. Throughout history, people believed that citrine carried the same powers as topaz, including the ability to calm tempers, soothe anger and manifest desires, especially prosperity. To leverage these powers, Egyptians used citrine gems as talismans, the ancient Greeks carved iconic images into them, and Roman priests fashioned them into rings.
Admired since ancient times, turquoise is known for its distinct color, which ranges from powdery blue to greenish robin’s egg blue. The word turquoise dates back to the 13th century, drawing from the French expression pierre tourques, which referenced the “Turkish stone” brought to Europe from Turkey. From ancient Egyptians to Persians, Aztecs and Native Americans, kings and warriors alike admired turquoise for thousands of years. It adorned everything from jewelry to ceremonial masks to weapons and bridles – granting power and protection, particularly against falls. The Navajo believe that turquoise is a part of the sky that fell to Earth. Believing turquoise guaranteed protection, Persians adorned their daggers and horses’ bridles with it -- their name for turquoise, pirouzeh, meant “victory.”
Named for its limited geographic origin in Tanzania, tanzanite has quickly risen to popularity since its relatively recent discovery. The common story of tanzanite’s discovery tells of Maasai herders who found blue crystals in the Merelani Hills near Arusha, Tanzania, while tending livestock in 1967. They notified a prospector named Manuel d’Souza, who promptly registered claims with the government to begin mining. Initially, d’Souza thought he was mining sapphire, but the crystal was soon identified as a vibrant blue variety of zoisite – a mineral that had been around since the early 1800s. Tiffany & Co. recognized this blue gem’s potential to rival more expensive sapphire, and agreed to become its main distributor. Instead of publicizing “blue zoisite” – which sounded a little too much like “suicide” – Tiffany named the gem tanzanite to highlight its exclusive geographic origin, and introduced it with a promotional campaign in 1968.
Zircon is the oldest mineral on earth, dating back more than 4.4 billion years. Found in the earth’s crust, it’s common in most sands and sedimentary deposits, as well as metamorphic rocks and crystallized magma. Due to its chemical makeup, zircon has survived ages of geologic events like erosion and pressure shifts – recording these changes like a time capsule. Zircon contains the radioactive element uranium, which changes the stone’s chemical structure and color over time, giving us important clues about the formation of our planet. The name zircon likely comes from the Persian word zargun, meaning “gold-colored.” Others trace it to the Arabic zarkun, meaning “vermillion.” Given its wide range of colors – spanning red, orange, yellow, green, blue and brown – both origins make sense. Zircon commonly occurs brownish red, which can be popular for its earth tones. However, most gem-quality stones are heat treated until colorless, gold or blue (the most popular color). Since the Middle Ages, people have believed that zircon can induce sleep, ward off evil and promote prosperity. Today, zircon is considered a grounding stone that increases confidence and compassion. It is said it can bring visions into reality and provide the guidance needed to achieve goals.
+ - + - + - + - + - + - +[Information gathered from The Farmers Almanac, Jewelers of America, American Gem Society