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I hate my Birthstone!

I know a lady born in August that says “I hate my birthstone (Peridot) it is just an ugly green stone.” Can we help her find something more to her liking? Do we have a choice when it comes to selecting a birthstone? What can we do when we do not like or cannot afford our birthstone? This article can give you some alternative selections for your birthstones.

A standardized list of birthstones is in use today, those gemstones were selected in 1912. With a little research, you will find that there is more than one-way to select a birthstone.

People used to choose which gemstone to wear based on its color and the zodiac signs associated with that color. The color green was associated with spring. Emerald then became one of the green stones representing spring, a time of birth. Almost all green stones were called Emerald. (Colors for the other seasons were ruby for Summer, sapphire for Autumn, and diamond for Winter.)

Gemstone folklore came from legends and mythology. An example of this was the perception that amethyst prevented drunkenness. This belief started with a Greek myth about the wine god, Bacchus.

This story is from a book of French verse

The god Bacchus, offended at some neglect that he has suffered, was determined to
avenge himself, and declared that tigers should devour the first person he should meet.

Fate willed it that this luckless mortal was a beautiful and pure maiden named Amethyst, who was on her way to worship at the shrine of Diana. As the tiger sprang at her, she sought the protection of the goddess, and was saved from a worse fate by being turned into a pure white stone.

Recognizing the miracle and sorry for his cruelty, Bacchus poured the juice of the grape as a libation over the petrified body of the maiden. Giving to the stone the beautiful violet hue that we see today. – The poem in which this story occurs is “Amours et nouveaux eschanges des pierres precieuses,” written in 1576 and dedicated to Henri III

Long before our twelve-month calendar was developed, astrologers transferred the religious symbolism of gemstones to the twelve signs of the zodiac. The gemstone associated with each zodiacal sign has varied through the centuries. This is the current list:

Zodiac Sign Gemstone
Capricorn (Dec 22 – Jan 20) Ruby Beads
Aquarius (Jan 21 – Feb 21) Garnet Beads
Pisces (Feb 22 – March 21) Amethyst Beads
Aries (March 22 – April 20) Bloodstone Beads
Taurus (April 21 – May 21) Sapphire Beads
Gemini (May 22 – June 21) Agate Beads
Cancer (June 22 – July 22) Emerald Beads
Leo (July 23 – August 22) Onyx Beads
Virgo (August 23 – Sept 22) Carnelian Beads
Libra (Sept 23 – Oct 23) Chrysolite (Peridot)
Scorpio (Oct 24 – Nov 21) Aquamarine Beads
Sagittarius (Nov 23 – Dec 21) Turquoise Beads

In Exodus 28:17-21, specific gemstones were associated with the twelve tribes of Israel. People of Jewish heritage may wish to choose their birthstones based on tribal names. Historians have complied several lists of which stone goes with each name. This list varies, depending on how the old gemstone names are interpreted. Paul E. Desautels (1920-1991), the curator of minerals at the U. S. National Museum of Natural History (Smithstonian Institution), author of The Gem Kingdom, offers the following list, which uses modern gemstone names:

Tribe Gemstone
Reuben Carnelian Beads
Simeon Peridot Beads
Levi Emerald Beads
Judah Garnet Beads
Issachar Lapis Beads
Zebulun Quartz Beads
Joseph Zircon* Beads
Benjamin Agate Beads
Dan Amethyst Beads
Naphtali Citrine Beads
Gad Onyx Beads
Assher Jasper Beads

Christianity influenced the symbolism of gemstones. George Kunz, in his book The Curious Lore of Precious Stones, says specific gemstones were also associated with the twelve guardian angels and the twelve apostles. He offers the following lists.