Birthstones – Importance of Color

Importance of Color in Birthstones

It is not a coincidence that the birthstone for each month is a unique color.

The history of birthstones is very old. Gemologists did not have instruments, tests and the knowledge for accurate identification of gemstones. The physical appearance determined the identity. Gemstones of the same color were known by the same name. If a red stone looked like a ruby, it was called a ruby. Today we know that red tourmaline and red spinel are not rubies.

We also know that many gemstones have different colored varieties. Originally dark blue was the only color known as sapphire. Yellow sapphire was probably mistaken for topaz. Light blue topaz may have been confused with aquamarine. Peridot was combined with other green gemstones known as olivine.

People had faith in the power of gemstones to affect their lives. The beliefs concerning birthstones may have been influenced by astrological ideas that the powers of certain gemstones were affected by the position of planets. All people could benefit by wearing each gemstone at the proper time, but the person born at that time would receive greater benefit.

Here is a question to ponder. Did all the same color gemstones that shared the same name also share the same power? The color of a birthstone may be more important than its identity.

When you buy birthstone jewelry, do not choose a different color variety of your birthstone gemstone. You can substitute a same color different gemstone and still be historically correct.

List of U.S. Modern Birthstones and Colors
MONTH BIRTHSTONE OTHER SAME COLOR GEMSTONES
January garnet – dark red spinel
February amethyst – purple lepidolite, sugilite, tourmaline, fluorite
March aquamarine – light aqua blue blue topaz, sapphire, zircon, apatite
April diamond – clear rock crystal quartz, sapphire, zircon
May emerald – dark green garnet, tourmaline, aventurine
June pearl, moonstone – white mother of pearl
July ruby – red tourmaline, spinel, topaz
August peridot – lime green serpentine, garnet, tourmaline, vesuvianite
September sapphire – dark blue tanzanite, spinel, sodalite, dumortierite, kyanite
October opal – multicolor opalescence  
November topaz – golden yellow citrine, sapphire, spinel, garnet, calcite, zircon
December turquoise – opaque greenish blue amazonite, opaque aquamarine, chrysocolla

Historical birthstones charts often assigned the gemstones to different months or substituted different gemstones.

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