12 and 12 More: Alternate Choices for Birthstones


by Barbara van Look, Exclusively for Fire Mountain Gems and BeadsĀ®

"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!

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
Month Gemstone Preciosa Crystal Celestial Crystal Crystal Passions
January Garnet Gemstone Beads and Components

Garnet
Calmness
Sleep tight; this gem is said to help prevent nightmares.

Siam Preciosa Beads and Components

Siam

Red Celestial Crystal Beads and Components

Red

Siam Crystal Passions Beads and Components

Siam

February Amethyst Gemstone Beads and Components

Amethyst
Power
Ancient lore claims it can be worn to prevent intoxication.

Amethyst Preciosa Beads and Components

Amethyst

Amethyst Purple Celestial Crystal Beads and Components

Amethyst Purple

Amethyst Crystal Passions Beads and Components

Amethyst

March Aquamarine Gemstone Beads and Components

Aquamarine
Rapport
It is believed that wearing this gem ensures a long and happy marriage.

Aquamarine Preciosa Beads and Components

Aquamarine

Light Blue Celestial Crystal Beads and Components

Light Blue

Aquamarine Crystal Passions Beads and Components

Aquamarine

April Diamond Gemstone Beads

Diamond
Endurance
This timeless stone is claimed to instil strength and courage.

Crystal Clear Preciosa Beads and Components

Crystal

Clear Celestial Crystal Beads and Components

Clear

Crystal Clear Crystal Passions Beads and Components

Crystal

May Emerald Gemstone Beads and Components

Emerald
Clarity
Ancient cultures believed emeralds could cure eye problems.

Emerald Green Preciosa Beads and Components

Emerald

Emerald Green Celestial Crystal Beads and Components

Emerald Green

Emerald Crystal Passions Beads and Components

Emerald

June All Pearls

Pearl
Joy
Believed to foster love and fertility.

Tanzanite Preciosa Beads and Components

Tanzanite

Medium Purple Celestial Crystal Beads and Components

Medium Purple

Tanzanite Crystal Passions Beads and Components

Tanzanite

July Ruby Gemstone Beads and Components

Ruby
Harmony
Its deep beauty has been used to reconcile differences and protect warriors in battle.


Rose

Pink Celestial Crystal Beads and Components

Pink

Rose Crystal Passions Beads and Components

Rose

August Peridot Gemstone Beads and Components

Peridot
Purity
Believed to protect its wearer from evil spirits.

Peridot Green Preciosa Beads and Components

Peridot

Peridot Green Celestial Crystal Beads and Components

Peridot Green

Peridot Crystal Passions Beads and Components

Peridot

September Sapphire Gemstone Beads and Components

Sapphire
Loyalty
The true blue is said to encourage honesty and fidelity.

Sapphire Preciosa Beads and Components

Sapphire

Medium Blue Celestial Crystal Beads and Components

Medium Blue

Sapphire Crystal Passions Beads and Components

Sapphire

October Opal Gemstone Beads and Components

Opal
Hope
Many believe wearing opal provides foresight and prophecy.

Light Sapphire Opal Preciosa Beads and Components

Light Sapphire Opal

Frosted Clear Celestial Crystals Beads and Components

Frosted Clear

White Opal Crystal Passions Beads and Components

White Opal

November Citrine Gemstone Beads and Components

Citrine
Success
This crystal is known for its value in aiding manifestation of abundance and prosperity.

Topaz Brown Preciosa Beads and Components

Topaz

Gold Celestial Crystal Beads and Components

Gold

Topaz Crystal Passions Beads and Components

Topaz

December Turquoise Gemstone Beads and Components

Turquoise
Peace
This ancient gemstone is said to grant health and good fortune.

Blue Zircon Preciosa Beads and Components

Blue Zircon

Turquoise Blue Celestial Crystal Beads and Components

Turquoise Blue

Blue Zircon Crystal Passions Beads and Components

Blue Zircon

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 Hemalyke Gemstone

Hemalyke

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
Aquarius
Garnet Gemstone

Garnet

Amethyst Gemstone

Amethyst

Moss Agate Gemstone

Moss Agate

Opal Gemstone

Opal

Pisces
Amethyst Gemstone

Amethyst

Aquamarine Gemstone

Aquamarine

Bloodstone Gemstone

Bloodstone

Jade Gemstone

Jade

Sapphire Gemstone

Sapphire

Aries
Bloodstone Gemstone

Bloodstone

Diamond Gemstone

Diamond

Ruby Gemstone

Ruby

Taurus
Sapphire Gemstone

Sapphire

Emerald Gemstone

Emerald

Diamond Gemstone

Diamond

Gemini
Agate Gemstone

Agate

Amethyst Gemstone

Amethyst

Alexandrite
Cancer
Emerald Gemstone

Emerald

Pearl

Pearl

Ruby Gemstone

Ruby

Moonstone Gemstone

Moonstone

Leo
Onyx Gemstone

Onyx

Ruby Gemstone

Ruby

Peridot Gemstone

Peridot

Jade Gemstone

Jade

Sardonyx Gemstone

Sardonyx

Diamond Gemstone

Diamond

Virgo
Carnelian Gemstone

Carnelian

Jade Gemstone

Jade

Jasper Gemstone

Jasper

Moss Agate Gemstone

Moss Agate

Blue Sapphire Gemstone

Blue Sapphire

Libra
Peridot Gemstone

Peridot

Lapis Lazuli Gemstone

Lapis Lazuli

Sapphire Gemstone

Sapphire

Opal Gemstone

Opal

Scorpio
Aquamarine Gemstone

Aquamarine

Emerald Gemstone

Emerald

Ruby Gemstone

Ruby

Golden Topaz
Saggitarius
Topaz Gemstone

Topaz

Turquoise Gemstone

Turquoise

Lapis Lazuli Gemstone

Lapis Lazuli

Onyx Gemstone

Onyx

Capricorn
Ruby Gemstone

Ruby

Agate Gemstone

Agate

Garnet Gemstone

Garnet

Black Onyx Gemstone

Black Onyx

Chinese Zodiac
Rat
Emerald Gemstone

Emerald

Ox
Lapis Lazuli Gemstone

Lapis Lazuli

Tiger
Ruby Gemstone

Ruby

Rabbit
Sapphire Gemstone

Sapphire

Dragon
Ruby Gemstone

Ruby

Snake
Opal Gemstone

Opal

Horse
Topaz Gemstone

Topaz

Goat
Sapphire Gemstone

Sapphire

Monkey
Tigereye Gemstone

Tigereye

Rooster
Topaz Gemstone

Topaz

Dog
Ruby Gemstone

Ruby

Pig
Moonstone Gemstone

Moonstone



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