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Birthstones: What Are They?

Birthstones: What Are They?

Birthstones are any of the various gems associated with the particular calendar months of the year and considered lucky to people born in those months.

Fun Fact: Myths and superstitions gradually grew up regarding the stones, and symbolic meanings or virtues were ascribed to them.


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Symbol of Constancy

Garnet, group of related minerals, often used as gemstones or abrasives. Large quantities of garnets are ground up and made into a variety of sandpaper. The different varieties of garnet exhibit almost all colors except blue. Brown, red, green, yellow, black, and colorless stones are common. Darker stones are usually opaque, and light ones may be transparent or translucent.

It is the birthstone for people born in January and is used to make


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Symbol of Sincerity

Amethyst, variety of quartz, differing from common quartz and rock crystal chiefly because of its violet to purple color, which is caused by the presence of compounds of iron or manganese.

It is a birthstone for February and is used to make seals and rings. The finest specimens occur in India, Sri Lanka, and Brazil. Amethyst is common in Europe and in many parts of Scotland.

READ ALSO: Earth Minerals: Types and Their Uses


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Symbol of Courage

Aquamarine, gemstone, a variety of the mineral beryl that is blue, blue-green, or green. The blue variety is the most valuable. Aquamarine is found in Brazil, Siberia, Myanmar, and parts of the United States. Other blue stones are sometimes sold under this name; in particular, blue synthetic spinel is sometimes sold as synthetic aquamarine.


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Symbol of Innocence

Diamond, mineral form of the element carbon, valued as a precious stone. Diamond is the hardest natural mineral and has many other exceptional properties that collectively make it an important industrial and scientific material. Unique geologically, diamonds form at great depths within Earth and are typically billions of years old.


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Symbol of Love and Success

Emeralds have been known since ancient times, not only for its beauty but also for its alleged power of healing diseases of the eye. It is essentially identical to other types of beryl in composition and properties, but contains sufficient chromium to impart a bright green color. Emeralds sometimes contain featherlike material, often called “silk,” which causes the gem to have a mossy appearance. Flawless specimens of good color and size are exceedingly rare and command higher prices than diamonds of equal weight.


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Symbol of Health and Longevity

Pearls are a lustrous concretion produced by certain bivalve mollusks and is valued as a gem. Pearls consist almost entirely of nacre, which is the substance forming the inner layers of the mollusk shells. The pearl is an abnormal growth resulting from the invasion of the body of the mollusk by a minute irritant, such as a parasite. The particle acts as an irritant in the mollusk and becomes coated with layer upon layer of nacreous material. Both marine and freshwater mollusks produce pearls, but the most valuable varieties originate in the pearl oyster of the Persian Gulf. Pearl coloration varies widely, the most prized shades being white, black, rose, and cream.


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Symbol of Contentment

A Ruby is precious stone that occurs as a red, transparent variety of the mineral corundum. The color varies in different specimens from rose red through so-called ruby red and carmine to a deep purplish red, called pigeon blood. Clear stones of the deeper shades are the most highly prized. When cut into a cabochon form, some specimens of ruby exhibit asterism; that is, a six-rayed star can be seen in the interior of the stone. Such rubies, called star rubies, are also highly prized. Many stones that are not rubies are nevertheless called rubies. The balas, or balas ruby, for example, is a type of spinel; the Bohemian ruby is rose quartz; the Siberian ruby is red or pink tourmaline; American ruby, Cape ruby, Montana ruby, and Rocky Mountain ruby are varieties of garnet.

It is the birthstone for July and due to their importance as highly prized gems, rubies are used in industry as jeweled bearings in watches and scientific instruments.


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Symbol of Marriage Happiness

Peridot is a quality and transparent substance. It exhibits conchoidal fracture, has a glassy luster, and is transparent or translucent. Found principally in ferromanganese igneous rocks, such as basalt and peridotite, it occurs in the lavas of Mount Vesuvius, near Naples, Italy, and in Norway, Germany, and Arizona. A rock called dunite is composed almost entirely of olivine, the uncut and unpolished substance. Found principally in stony meteorites and in ferromagnetic igneous rocks, such as basalt, dunite is the chief constituent of peridotite, the rock that makes up the earth’s mantle.


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Symbol of Clear Thinking

Sapphire, precious gemstone that occurs as a transparent, blue variety of the mineral corundum. Although the term sapphire is often applied to gem-quality varieties of corundum of all other colors, the true sapphire is deep blue, the best tint being a cornflower blue called Kashmir blue. Colorless, precious corundum is called white sapphire; yellow corundum is called yellow or golden sapphire, or Oriental topaz; and pale pink stones are called pink sapphire.


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Symbol of Hope

Opal has the brilliant play of colors that may be seen in superior stones. These colors result from the formation of minute fissures in the stone as it hardens and the deposition of additional opal in the fissures. The indices of refraction of the original stone and the additional deposits are frequently different and result in light interference causing a play of colors.

Fun Fact: Opal has been used as a gemstone for many centuries in spite of a superstition that the gem brings bad luck to its owners.


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Symbol of Fidelity

Topaz, variety of mineral aluminum fluosilicate, crystallized in the orthorhombic system (see Crystal), and valued as a gem. It has a vitreous luster and may be colorless, yellow, green, blue, or red. Topaz occurs in gneiss or granite associated with beryl, mica, and tourmaline and occasionally with apatite, cassiterite, and fluorite; it also occurs in certain talcose rocks, mica slate, rhyolite, and in alluvial deposits and drift. The most popular color for topaz gemstones is a rich orange-yellow, resembling the color of sherry wine. Rose topaz is a delicate rose pink.

It is the birthstone for November. The true Oriental topaz is the yellow sapphire, and the Saxon, Scottish, Spanish, smoky, and false topaz are yellow varieties of quartz.


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Symbol of Prosperity

Turquoise is prized throughout the world as a gemstone. The color ranges from blue and blue-green to greenish-gray, according to the various amounts of copper usually present. The mineral has been valued for its ornamental properties since ancient times and has been found in neck-wear and bracelets recovered from old Egyptian tombs. It occurs mostly in the seams of igneous rocks, as incrustations on the surface of various slates, or as nodules in red sandstone.

It is the birthstone for December. The sky-blue variety of turquoise, commonly referred to as robin’s egg, is the form most desired for jewelry. When excessively exposed to sunlight or heat, this variety may become dehydrated and turn green.


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