12 and 12 More: Alternate Choices for Birthstones


by Barbara van Look, Marketing Content Development Group, Exclusively for Fire Mountain Gems and Beads®

"The February-born shall find
Sincerity and peace of mind,
Freedom from passion and from care,
If they an amethyst will wear." - Birthstone Poem, first published by Tiffany and Co., 1870
If you talk to mathematicians, the number twelve is where it's at. They call it the duodecimal or "dozenal," system--and have written dozens (ha!) of papers arguing for its adoption.

The mathematicians aren't alone, either. When you look at human history, the number twelve has a lot of staying power:
  • Twelve inches to a foot
  • Twelve items to a dozen--and twelve dozens to a gross
  • Twelve troy ounces to troy pound
  • Twelve tribes of Israel--and twelve disciples of Jesus
  • Twelve Western Zodiac signs per year--or twelve Chinese Zodiac signs in a cycle
And, of course ...
  • Twelve months in a year--and twelve birthstones to go with them!
But Which Birthstone?

There are many systems of birthstones, coming from multiple cultures and histories, and each has their own origin story.

A great many of the birthstone beliefs used in the United States and Europe come from Biblical sources and the medieval church. Many of the gemstones currently used as birthstones are listed in the breastplate of Aaron, the High Priest (Exodus 28:17-20). During the Middle Ages and into the Renaissance, those stones were frequently assigned to specific saints. Believers would wear that saint's gemstone as a way of encouraging their attention or assistance with a specific physical, emotional or spiritual problem. This system of belief eventually evolved into the current system of metaphysical or healing associations with particular gemstones.

In the 900s, the use of gemstones to treat a range of spiritual ailments was emerging in Tibet. Meanwhile, Ayurvedic medicine was taking off in India, with different gemstones associated with different months and different personality types. This came out of a long tradition of birthstones in ancient Indus Valley writings. Some gemstone names have been translated--others are still a mystery.

Not all birthstone lists run on a per-month basis. Some are yearly--like the Chinese Zodiac--while others are based on the day, or even the hour, of birth.

Alternative Designing

Birthstones are a popular gift item for both women and men. From class rings to full jewelry sets, there's birthstone jewelry that appeals to everyone. With all the different sources of birthstones, jewelry makers have some unusual options to make their designs stand out:Cover your bases
  • Create birthstone jewelry that uses every single one of a particular month's birthstones. Offer that March-born customer jewelry which includes aquamarine (modern American), bloodstone (ancient Hebrew), jade (Mystical / Tibetan) and jasper (Russian)! Be sure to include the different sources for your gemstones and customers can choose according to their cultural interests and ethnic heritages.

  • Healing properties
    The mystical or Tibetan birthstone chart was originally derived for healing purposes. Crystal healing or metaphysical uses of gemstones are still popular. Create jewelry designed to target certain life challenges--health, serenity, spiritual growth, etc.

  • Make it personal
    Create ultra-personalized birthstone rings using the month / day of week / hour charts by adding them to a mother's ring setting. For example, the first baby of 2015 born in your area would be born Thursday, January 1st, between midnight and 1 a.m. That means a birthstone triad of garnet to mark the month, sapphire (or carnelian or emerald) for the day of the week and onyx for the hour!
March Birthstones

Mother
Chinese Zodiac vs. Babylonian Zodiac

The Chinese Zodiac is year-based, with a new sign taking precedence on the lunar New Year: Year of the Dragon, Year of the Rabbit, Year of the Horse, etc. Lunar New Year varies from year to year, usually falling sometime between January 1st and February 20th. If your customers were born within that time frame, you'll need to pay special attention in order to identify their proper year and get them the proper birthstone.

Meanwhile, American newspapers tend to list the Babylonian Zodiac, also called the western, tropical or sidereal Zodiac, with its familiar list of names: Aquarius, Taurus, Virgo, etc. This Zodiac traces the sun's progress across the sky over the course of a single year, marking its position within 12 named zones. The zones are named after particular constellations, but those constellations are not the only ones within each zone of the sky.

Here's the sidereal Zodiac, with its traditional birthstones, per George F. Kunz's seminal book The Curious Lore of Precious Stones:
  • Aries (March 22 - April 20): bloodstone
  • Taurus (April 21 - May 21): sapphire
  • Gemini (May 22 - June 20): agate
  • Cancer (June 21 - July 22): emerald
  • Leo (July 23 - August 22): onyx
  • Virgo (August 23 - September 22): carnelian
  • Libra (September 23 - October 23): chrysolite
  • Scorpio (October 24 - November 21): beryl
  • Sagittarius (November 22 - December 21): topaz
  • Capricorn (December 22 - January 20): ruby
  • Aquarius (January 21 - February 21): garnet
  • Pisces (February 22 - March 21): amethyst
What about that "new" Zodiac sign?

Some adherents of sidereal astrology include the sign Ophiuchus (aw-fee-YEW-kuss), while others stick to the standard and traditional twelve. The constellation now known as Ophiuchus ("snake-bearer") was called Asclepius by the Romans, named after a son of Apollo. In myth, Asclepius was famous for his healing powers.

With the inclusion of Ophiuchus, the sidereal Zodiac dates change. Here's what it looks like with the "thirteenth sign":
  • Aries (April 19 - May 13)
  • Taurus (May 14 - June 19)
  • Gemini (June 20 - July 20)
  • Cancer (July 21 - August 9)
  • Leo (August 10 - September 15)
  • Virgo (September 16 - October 30)
  • Libra (October 31 - November 22)
  • Scorpio (November 23 - November 29)
  • Ophiuchus (November 30 - December 17)
  • Sagittarius (December 18 - January 18)
  • Capricorn (January 19 - February 15)
  • Aquarius (February 16 - March 11)
  • Pisces (March 12 - April 18)
If you choose, you can offer these birthstones for the "snake-bearer" sign: fluorite, bloodstone, tanzanite, kyanite and black tourmaline. As astrologers' adoption and use of Ophiuchus is new and nonstandardized, there are a variety of other gemstones also associated with this Zodiac sign. Explore the alternatives and make your own choices!

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Cultural Birthstones
  Ancient Hebrew Ayurvedic Mystical or Tibetan Polish Russian
January Garnet Gemstone

Garnet

Garnet Gemstone

Garnet

Emerald Gemstone

Emerald

Garnet Gemstone

Garnet

Garnet Gemstone

Garnet


Hyacinth
February Amethyst Gemstone

Amethyst

Amethyst Gemstone

Amethyst

Bloodstone Gemstone

Bloodstone

Amethyst Gemstone

Amethyst

Amethyst Gemstone

Amethyst

March Bloodstone Gemstone

Bloodstone

Jasper Gemstone

Jasper

Bloodstone Gemstone

Bloodstone

Jade Gemstone

Jade

Bloodstone Gemstone

Bloodstone

Jasper Gemstone

Jasper

April Sapphire Gemstone

Sapphire

Diamond Gemstone

Diamond

Opal Gemstone

Opal

Diamond Gemstone

Diamond

Sapphire Gemstone

Sapphire

May Agate Gemstone

Agate

Carnelian Gemstone

Carnelian

Chalcedony Gemstone

Chalcedony

Agate Gemstone

Agate

Sapphire Gemstone

Sapphire

Emerald Gemstone

Emerald

Emerald Gemstone

Emerald

June Emerald Gemstone

Emerald

Pearl

Pearl

Moonstone Gemstone

Moonstone

Agate Gemstone

Agate

Agate Gemstone

Agate

Chalcedony Gemstone

Chalcedony

July Black Onyx Gemstone

Black Onyx

Ruby Gemstone

Ruby

Ruby Gemstone

Ruby

Ruby Gemstone

Ruby

Ruby Gemstone

Ruby

Sardonyx Gemstone

Sardonyx

August Carnelian Gemstone

Carnelian

Sapphire Gemstone

Sapphire

Diamond Gemstone

Diamond

Sardonyx Gemstone

Sardonyx

Alexandrite
September Chrysolite Moonstone Gemstone

Moonstone

Agate Gemstone

Agate

Peridot Gemstone

Peridot

Chrysolite
October Aquamarine Gemstone

Aquamarine

Opal Gemstone

Opal

Jasper Gemstone

Jasper

Aquamarine Gemstone

Aquamarine

Beryl Gemstone

Beryl

November Topaz Gemstone

Topaz

Topaz Gemstone

Topaz

Pearl

Pearl

Topaz Gemstone

Topaz

Topaz Gemstone

Topaz

December Ruby Gemstone

Ruby

Ruby Gemstone

Ruby

Onyx Gemstone

Onyx

Turquoise Gemstone

Turquoise

Turquoise Gemstone

Turquoise

Chrysoprase Gemstone

Chrysoprase

Modern Gemstone Birthstones with Alternatives
  Modern Gemstone Modern Swarovski crystal Alternatives Modern Faux Pearl Alternatives
January Garnet Gemstone

Garnet

Garnet

Garnet

Swarovski Crystal Bordeaux

Swarovski Crystal Bordeaux

February Amethyst Gemstone

Amethyst

Amethyst

Amethyst

Czech Druk Purple

Czech Druk Purple

March Aquamarine Gemstone

Aquamarine

Aquamarine

Aquamarine

Celestial Crystal Light Blue

Celestial Crystal® Light Blue

April Diamond Gemstone

Diamond

Crystal Clear

Crystal Clear

Celestial Crystal White

Celestial Crystal White

May Emerald Gemstone

Emerald

Emerald

Emerald

Czech Druk Emerald

Czech Druk Emerald

June Pearl

Pearl

Moonstone Gemstone

Moonstone


Alexandrite
Cream Pearl

Cream Pearl

Violet

Violet

Celestial Crystal Ivory

Celestial Crystal Ivory

July Ruby Gemstone

Ruby

Ruby

Ruby

Czech Druk Red

Czech Druk Red

August Peridot Gemstone

Peridot

Peridot Swarovski Crystal

Peridot

Celestial Crystal Olive Green

Celestial Crystal Olive Green

September Sapphire Gemstone

Sapphire

Sapphire

Sapphire

Celestial Crystal Dark Blue

Celestial Crystal Dark Blue

October Opal Gemstone

Opal

Tourmaline Gemstone

Tourmaline

White Opal

White Opal

Rose

Rose

Swarovski Crystal Powder Rose

Swarovski Crystal Powder Rose

November Citrine Gemstone

Citrine


Yellow Topaz
Topaz

Topaz

Swarovski Crystal Gold

Swarovski Crystal Gold

December Turquoise Gemstone

Turquoise

Blue Topaz Gemstone

Blue Topaz

Tanzanite Gemstone

Tanzanite

Turquoise

Turquoise

Tanzanite

Tanzanite

Czech Druk Turquoise

Czech Druk Turquoise

Birthstones by Day of the Week
Monday Pearl

Pearl

Moonstone Gemstone

Moonstone

Quartz Crystal Gemstone

Quartz Crystal

Tuesday Ruby Gemstone

Ruby

Emerald Gemstone

Emerald

Garnet Gemstone

Garnet

Wednesday Amethyst Gemstone

Amethyst

Magnetite Gemstone

Magnetite

Cat's Eye Gemstone

Cat's Eye

Thursday Sapphire Gemstone

Sapphire

Carnelian Gemstone

Carnelian

Emerald Gemstone

Emerald

Friday Carnelian Gemstone

Carnelian

Topaz Gemstone

Topaz

Rose Quartz Gemstone

Rose Quartz

Saturday Turquoise Gemstone

Turquoise

Diamond Gemstone

Diamond

Sapphire Gemstone

Sapphire

Sunday Topaz Gemstone

Topaz

Diamond Gemstone

Diamond

Ruby Gemstone

Ruby

Birthstones by Hour of Birth
1:00 AM Quartz Crystal Gemstone

Quartz Crystal

1:00 PM Zircon
2:00 AM Hematite Gemstone

Hematite

2:00 PM Emerald Gemstone

Emerald

3:00 AM Malachite Gemstone

Malachite

3:00 PM Beryl Gemstone

Beryl

4:00 AM Lapis Lazuli Gemstone

Lapis Lazuli

4:00 PM Topaz
5:00 AM Turquoise Gemstone

Turquoise

5:00 PM Ruby Gemstone

Ruby

6:00 AM Tourmaline Gemstone

Tourmaline

6:00 PM Opal Gemstone

Opal

7:00 AM Chrysolite 7:00 PM Sardonyx Gemstone

Sardonyx

8:00 AM Amethyst Gemstone

Amethyst

8:00 PM Chalcedony Gemstone

Chalcedony

9:00 AM Kunzite Gemstone

Kunzite

9:00 PM Jade Gemstone

Jade

10:00 AM Sapphire Gemstone

Sapphire

10:00 PM Jasper Gemstone

Jasper

11:00 AM Garnet Gemstone

Garnet

11:00 PM Lodestone
Noon Diamond Gemstone

Diamond

Midnight Onyx Gemstone

Onyx

Babylonian Zodiac Chinese Zodiac
Aquarius Garnet Gemstone

Garnet

Amethyst Gemstone

Amethyst

Moss Agate Gemstone

Moss Agate

Opal Gemstone

Opal

Rat Emerald Gemstone

Emerald

Pisces Amethyst Gemstone

Amethyst

Aquamarine Gemstone

Aquamarine

Bloodstone Gemstone

Bloodstone

Jade Gemstone

Jade

Sapphire Gemstone

Sapphire

Ox Lapis Lazuli Gemstone

Lapis Lazuli

Aries Bloodstone Gemstone

Bloodstone

Diamond Gemstone

Diamond

Ruby Gemstone

Ruby

Tiger Ruby Gemstone

Ruby

Taurus Sapphire Gemstone

Sapphire

Emerald Gemstone

Emerald

Diamond Gemstone

Diamond

Rabbit Sapphire Gemstone

Sapphire

Gemini Agate Gemstone

Agate

Amethyst Gemstone

Amethyst


Alexandrite
Dragon Ruby Gemstone

Ruby

Cancer Emerald Gemstone

Emerald

Pearl

Pearl

Ruby Gemstone

Ruby

Moonstone Gemstone

Moonstone

Snake Opal Gemstone

Opal

Leo Onyx Gemstone

Onyx

Ruby Gemstone

Ruby

Peridot Gemstone

Peridot

Jade Gemstone

Jade

Sardonyx Gemstone

Sardonyx

Diamond Gemstone

Diamond

Horse Topaz Gemstone

Topaz

Virgo Carnelian Gemstone

Carnelian

Jade Gemstone

Jade

Jasper Gemstone

Jasper

Moss Agate Gemstone

Moss Agate

Blue Sapphire Gemstone

Blue Sapphire

Goat Sapphire Gemstone

Sapphire

Libra Peridot Gemstone

Peridot

Lapis Lazuli Gemstone

Lapis Lazuli

Sapphire Gemstone

Sapphire

Opal Gemstone

Opal

Monkey Tigereye Gemstone

Tigereye

Scorpio Aquamarine Gemstone

Aquamarine

Emerald Gemstone

Emerald

Ruby Gemstone

Ruby


Golden Topaz
Rooster Topaz Gemstone

Topaz

Saggitarius Topaz Gemstone

Topaz

Turquoise Gemstone

Turquoise

Lapis Lazuli Gemstone

Lapis Lazuli

Onyx Gemstone

Onyx

Dog Ruby Gemstone

Ruby

Capricorn Ruby Gemstone

Ruby

Agate Gemstone

Agate

Garnet Gemstone

Garnet

Black Onyx Gemstone

Black Onyx

Pig Moonstone Gemstone

Moonstone



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