13 Birthstones: Benefits of precious gems and where to find them
We bring you a rundown on the benefits of each birthstone and a selection of fine jewellery to go with it.
Signifying eternal friendship and trust, the name garnet is derived from the Latin word “granatum”, which refers to the red seeds of the pomegranate. Apart from the red varieties, which were among the most ancient of healing talismans, garnet also comes in other colour types, the key ones being the orange-yellow spessartite and the bright green tsavorite.
Historically coveted by European royalty by virtue of its intoxicating purple and rarity then, the ever-popular amethyst was also used by the ancient Greeks and Romans to keep the wearer sober, sharp, and restraint. In fact, its name derives from the Greek word “amethystos”, which means “not drunken”.
Named for the Latin phrase “water of the sea”, the ethereal aquamarine was believed by the ancients to be the treasure of the mermaids, and by sailors as a talisman for protection and safe passage over water. The gem was also used to dispel gossip, and imbue the owner with a sense of
calm and confidence.
Adopted from the Greek work “adamas”, meaning “invincible”, diamond is symbolic of eternal love and strength today. The gem was referenced in Sanskrit texts as early as 400BC, and since antiquity, believed by various cultures to possess powers that range from therapy and healing, energy-boosting, to imparting balance and clarity of thought.
Emerald was a holy gemstone for many early civilisations, including the Egyptians and South Americans, and also revered by ancient royalty spanning the Greeks to Indians. A symbol of renewal and growth, the gem is believed to grant the owner youth, vision, and wisdom. Its name was derived from the Greek word “smaragdus”, for green.
Probably the first gem discovered by mankind to be used for adornment, pearl boasts a long and interesting legacy of mythical importance in countless civilisations, including the Romans and Tudors. Its natural form, colour, and radiance endowed it with a celestial quality, and it has become symbolic of innocence, purity, and virtue in modern history.
Symbolising passion, vitality, and wealth, the blood-red ruby was so fascinating and visceral in appeal to historical nobility, from Kublai Khan to the Indian maharajahs, that their obsession with it was the stuff of legends. Named from the Latin word “ruber” for “red”, the legendary gem is one of the oldest associated with royalty, and remains sought-after to this day.
Called chrysolite in early writings, peridot was believed to wield powers against nightmares and the dark forces, and bring the wearer influence and success. Named from the Arabic word “faridat” for “gem”, it is the national gemstone of Egypt as it was first discovered nearly 4,000 years ago on an Egypt-owned island in the Red Sea, where stones were mined for the kings.
The sky blue colour of sapphire endowed it with a divine quality, and naturally, it became a royal gem for many cultures tracing back to the Middle Ages. Since then, it has been associated with numerous virtues that range from devotion and loyalty, to wisdom, justice, and prophecy. Its name has roots in Latin, Greek, and Sanskrit, meaning “blue stone”.
Referring to its play-of-colour property, opal’s name was derived from the Greek word “opallos”, which means “to see a change of colour”. Its stunning visual quality led it to become a talisman for strengthening both one’s eyesight and higher consciousness.
Also a birthstone for October, tourmaline is historically associated with matters of the heart, and stands for humanitarian love and positivity. The gem’s name, born of the old Sinhalese word “turmali” for “mixed colours”, reflects its many attractive colour varieties.
Topaz & Citrine
A gemstone with many colour varieties, topaz was prized in antiquity, with the opulent orangey-pink stone hailed as the imperial topaz by the Russian tsars. It is supposed to possess a warm and gentle solar energy, and helps to soothe, stimulate, and recharge the owner. Because the yellow-orange topaz was historically thought to be the same as citrine, the latter has also come to be known as November’s birthstone too. Regarded as the “healing quartz”, it is believed to have a healthful, encouraging influence.
Another gem that pre-dates written history is turquoise, which was revered as an ornamental and ceremonial stone, especially in ancient Persian, Egyptian, and American civilisations. Its name came from the French expression “pierre tourques”, meaning “Turkish stone”, as it was first traded from Persia through Turkey to Europe in the 17th century.
Text by Yanni Tan
This article was first published in WOW.