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Gemstones Guide

A gemstone or gem (also called a precious or semi-precious stone, a fine gem, or jewel) is a piece of mineral, which, in cut and polished form, is used to make jewelry or other adornments.
However, not all gemstones are minerals. Certain rocks (such as lapis lazuli) or organic materials that are not minerals (such as amber or jet), are also used for jewelry, and are therefore often considered to be gemstones as well. Most gemstones are hard, but some soft minerals are used in jewelry because of their luster or other physical properties that have aesthetic value.
A guide to Gemstones
Rarity is another characteristic that lends value to a gemstone. Apart from jewelry, from earliest antiquity engraved gems and hardstone carvings, such as cups, were major luxury art forms.
The idea that gems contain special properties and powers is a concept that has survived for countless thousands of years, and lives on our modern birthstone charts. It is the oldest of jewelry traditions to link a birth date to a particular stone and to accept the gem's ability to influence the wearer's life.
Heart Amethyst Pendant
Sapphire Diamond Earring

List of Birthstones by Month

The idea that gems contain special properties and powers is a concept that has survived for countless thousands of years, and lives on our modern birthstone charts. It is the oldest of jewelry traditions to link a birth date to a particular stone and to accept the gem's ability to influence the wearer's life.

In 1912, in an effort to standardize birthstones, the (American) National Association of Jewelers met in Kansas and officially adopted a list.
MONTH BIRTHSTONE   MONTH BIRTHSTONE
January

Garnet
January Garnet   July

Ruby
July Ruby
February

Amethyst
February Amethyst   August

peridot
August Peridot
March

Aquamarine
March Aquamarine

 

September

Sapphire
September Sapphire
April

Diamonds
April Diamonds   October

Tourmaline
October tourmaline
May

Emerald
May Emerald

 

November

Topaz
November Topaz
June

Pearl
June Pearl   December

Tanzanite
December Tanzanite

For more than 45 centuries (3000 BC up to the 1500s), the acquisition of gems for their aesthetic qualities was a minor consideration. Though gem beauty is the dominant reason for today's gem purchasers, in the ancient world, gems were not luxuries. They were considered necessary to daily life.

The idea that gems contain special properties and powers is a concept that has survived for countless thousands of years, and lives on our modern birthstone charts. It is the oldest of jewelry traditions to link a birth date to a particular stone and to accept the gem's ability to influence the wearer's life.

The awe that the ancients felt for the gems they wore is a race memory passed down to us today, and is a great deal of what our desire for precious jewelry is all about. The Birthstone tradition links our time to a time when man was more at peace with nature and more in tune with the world around him. To better understand the properties associated with birthstone (as well as other power gems) we must look back in gemological history and become aware of the mystique that began these traditions.

Gesmtones Power

It is debatable when exactly it occurred, but the idea of Gem Power was first cultivated in the societies of ancient India and Babylonia. Both of these ancient peoples ascribed many magical powers and virtues to gemstones. This was no mean, primitive superstition, but a science: a complex and sophisticated system of beliefs.

In these ancient cultures, jewelers were almost never the first consultants in matters of gem collection/purchases. The royal houses and the landed rich (the only people who could afford to trade in gems) would almost always consult an astrologer. Usually these sages were on retainer to the best houses of the land. Once their advice was heeded, the purchaser visited a jeweler with recommendations based off the buyer's horoscope.

Resources

- Gemstone, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gemstones
- Birthstones by month, American Gem Society, http://www.americangemsociety.org/birthstones