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A guide to birthstones

All Areas > Health & Beauty > Mirror Mirror on the Wall

Author: Val Starr, Posted: Thursday, 25th January 2024, 09:00

Valentine’s Day is an occasion to celebrate love, admiration and friendship. Sales of flowers, chocolates, romantic cards and lingerie soar, but do you know your beloved’s birthstone?

I doubt if many of us can indulge in gifting an expensive gem on Valentine’s Day, but just in case you decide to splurge, here is a guide to get you up to speed.

January: Garnets have many varieties. This group of gems takes its name from the Latin word ‘granatus’ because the rough crystals look like grains of red kernels similar to pomegranate seeds.

February: Amethyst is a variety of quartz, commonly associated with rich shades of purple.

March: Aquamarine is a pale blue gem associated with courage and loyalty. Bloodstone is a dark green stone with red spots of iron oxide.

April: When it comes to diamonds, we look for the three ‘C’s – clarity, cut and carat weight. Diamonds are perhaps the toughest of precious stones and also one of the most expensive. They can be found in various colours including yellow (canary diamond).

May: The first known emerald mines were found in Egypt dating back to 330 BC. Cleopatra was known to be passionate about this beautiful gemstone. Mogul empire rulers in India used them not just in jewellery but in carvings and other ornamental items. The most desirable shade is green or bluish green.

June: Pearls have been around since ancient times and have been called the tears of mermaids. They can be found in numerous different colours, from white to cream, and even darker shades from green to black.
Alexandrite was discovered in 1854 and was named after the young Tsar Alexander when he came of age. Fascinatingly, it changes colour depending on the light – green in daylight, purplish red by candlelight.

July: The rich ruby is one of the most popular gems, and its colour represents love and passion.

August: We’re spoilt with three stones this month. Peridot is another ancient stone that is often found in pure green to yellowish green shades. Spinel is less well known, with colours ranging from red to purple. Sardonyx, the original August birthstone, has a history dating back 4,000 years.

September: Sapphires symbolise nobility, truth, sincerity and faithfulness. Ancient Romans and Greeks believed the blue sapphire protected them from harm and envy.

October: There are four types of opal –precious, fire, boulder and common – and it is known as the ‘eye stone’, as it is said to be able to help heal eye and vision problems. Tourmalines have one of the widest ranges of colours of any of the gem species.

November: Topaz is a natural stone found in multiple colours including yellow, orange, blue and pink. Citrine is a yellow variety of quartz and its name is said to derive from the French word for ‘lemon’.

December: Turquoise was one of the first gems to be mined and has an intense, desirable colour. Zircon is an underrated gemstone, often associated with wisdom and prosperity. Found in Tanzania, hence the name, Tanzanite was discovered in 1967 by Maasai cattle herders.

However you choose to celebrate, have a lovely Valentine’s Day!

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