ver thousands of years, a tradition has evolved which associates certain gemstones with times of the year. Pagan beliefs associated birth dates with certain characteristics and natural qualities. With the passing of time and fashions, different gemstones have been ascribed to different months and during the eighteenth century the connection between birthstones and particular months experienced a wave of popularity. The lists developed in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries are today the basis for modern interpretations of the tradition, which give a choice of high and low value gems for each month. Today, rare and expensive coloured stones are experiencing another revival, and we present our twelve favourite items, one for each month of the year.
BIRTH STONES JANUARY
Garnet - thought to improve productivity, intelligence and beauty as well as promoting love and healing
Amethyst - thought to be a healer or cleanser and protector from psychic attack
Garnet occurs in highly metamorphosed rocks, they form under the high temperatures or pressures that these types of rocks endure and therefore garnets are hard, have pretty colours, and are wonderfully transparent.
Amethyst is the purple variety of quartz, which the Greeks believed were able to ward off the effects of alcohol, due to their wine-like colour. It comes in a wide range of purple shades and can occur as long prismatic crystals, making a stunning purple sparkling cluster
18ct gold and orange garnet bracelet, £4,165,
Amethyst Cocktail Ring with diamonds in 18ct white gold, £3,300,
Aquamarine - known as “The Sailors Stone” supposed to protect seafarers and promote mental calm and clarity
Diamond - to absorb all good and bad energies, promotes generosity, boldness & optimism
Aquamarine is made of a bluegreen variety of beryl and the best quality Aquamarine has a sky-blue colour. The name means sea water and it is found most famously in Minas Gerais, Brazil.
Diamond is the ultimate gemstone, four times harder than the next hardest natural mineral, corundum. Diamond is not impervious, as a sharp blow in one of its four cleave directions will split it. A skilled jeweller will prevent the chance any of these directions being struck.
Aquamarine and Diamond Ring in 18ct white gold, £5,250,
Inde Mysterieuse diamond earrings, £POA,
Emerald - thought to relieve stress and cure diseases
PEARL - traditionally represents purity, innocence and integrity and supposed to improve fertility and ease the pain of childbirth
Emerald is the green variety of the mineral beryl. The colour is caused by small amounts of chromium and traces of iron. Emerald stones usually have flaws and inclusions, but these flaws are not seen as negative aspects but more desirable for the character of the stone and assurance of its natural provenance. Emerald ring and earrings, £POA,
Pearl is made from calcium carbonate in an oyster or mussel as a protective layer around an introduced foreign body. The most valuable pearls are natural, although the cultured varieties are by far the most common and reasonably priced. Wear next to the skin to keep in good condition.
Rococo Pearl Necklace, £POA, www.davidmarshalllondon.com
Kelly Green and Josephine O’Donoghue present a selection of stunning birth stone pieces
RUBY - the choice in ancient India to improve spiritual creativity, cure illness and protect soldiers, are also supposed to improve the passion of marriage
PERIDOT - believed to protect from the terrors of the night if set in gold or to attract romance or wealth
Rubies are the red variety of corundum, the second hardest natural mineral known to man. Ruby can be any shade of red up to almost pink. Rubies come from all over the world, but the best are from Burma. Due to ethical reasons, many jewellers style pieces from rubelite as an alternative.
Peridot is the gem variety of olivine and it has been mined in Burma and Egypt for around 4,000 years. Pakistan now produces exceptional specimens and legend has it that peridot was the favourite gemstone of Cleopatra. Citrine, peridot and lemon beryl earrings, £2,500, www.astleyclarke.com
Rubelite Bridge Ring, £21,000, www.theofennell.com
SAPPHIRE - reputed to protect wears from harm or envy and promote spirituality
OPAL - worn on the left hand or wrist to promote love to others bringing joy
Sapphire is the non-red variety of corundum, and the second hardest natural mineral. The red variety of corundum is Ruby. Sapphires are well known to most for being blue, but can be nearly any colour (although blue is the most popular colour). The best sapphires in the world come from Sri Lanka.
Opals have an unusual mineraloid structure, being not truly crystalline. Random chains of silicon and oxygen are packed into pockets of tiny spheres. Various wavelengths of light are diffracted creating colours and the most precious opal comes from Australia. 24ct Gold and Opal Bracelet, £11,000, www.astleyclarke.com
18ct White Gold Sapphire and Diamond Cradle Ring, £58,000, www.theofennell.com
TOPAZ - associated by the ancient Greeks with strength
TANZANITE - thought to aid relaxation and balance while attracting prosperity
Topaz is golden brown to yellow colour with well formed and multifaceted crystals. Blue topaz, often confused with aquamarine, is produced by irradiating and heating clear crystals. Topaz is one of the hardest minerals and can reach several hundred pounds in size. Topaz and diamond pendant, £POA, www.tiffany.com/uk
Tanzanite is an unusual gemstone, found in only one place in the world: the African country of Tanzania. It has a vivid violet-blue colour and some claim that tanzanite was discovered by Masai shepherds after a lightning fire scoured areas of northern Tanzania, transforming the brown zoisite into beautiful gems. 18ct White Gold Cabochon Tanzanite, Diamond and Enamel Orion Ring, £45,000, www.theofennell.com