There are countless traditions we associate with our birthdays, with parties, presents, and consuming a shocking amount of sugar heading up the list. However, there’s one tradition associated with our birthdate that many of us know little, if anything, about: birthstones. However, birthstones are more than just another glittering gift to give someone special in your life when you don’t know what to buy.
In fact, what may surprise people most is that these gems aren’t just another ploy by jewelry stores to sell pricey baubles year-round. The idea of the birthstone actually dates back to Biblical times. In Exodus, the breastplate made by Moses for Aaron is adorned with twelve gems, one for each of the twelve tribes of Israel. As is the case with many important numbers in the Bible, this mythology eventually evolved, with the twelve stones taking on new meaning as they became associated with the twelve astrological signs. Ultimately, stones were assigned to each month, providing us the birthstone order we know today.
However, over time, the stones associated with our birth months have changed, with new significance assigned to each. To find out what your birthstone is, what it might mean for you, and how it ranks in terms of attractiveness, read on—because we’ve ranked them from best to worst.
1. Emerald (May)
The lush abundance of spring is mirrored in May’s birthstone, the emerald, with its deep green hue, making it the best birthstone of them all. According to legend, emeralds are also a source of great luck and offer protection against evil to those who wear them. And from an aesthetic perspective, emeralds are ideal for the fashion-forward, their brilliant hue hardly befitting a shrinking violet.
2. Amethyst (February)
Amethyst, a form of crystalline quartz, is the brilliant purple stone assigned to February babies. Thought to confer wisdom, heal ailments of the lungs and heart, and protect against both physical poisons and poisonous thoughts alike, this stunning stone is a perfect complement to the fiery Aquarius personality and the more placid Pisces.
3. Aquamarine (March)
Aquamarines, the pale blue stones assigned to March birthdays, are undeniably beautiful. The color of the ocean on a clear day, aquamarines are associated with a tranquil temperament and the ability to foresee future events. And those who wear this stunning gem are always trendsetters, eager to look fashionable without blending in with the crowd.
4. Garnet (January)
Those born in the beginning of the year get a blood red birthstone. Garnets, the birthstone assigned to those born in January, get their name from the Latin granatum—or pomegranate—the seeds of which share the garnet’s deep red hue. While the stone itself is widely regarded for its healing powers, with many gem experts believing it to be specifically related to female energy, it’s also often used as a protective stone, warding off those who might do us harm, perfect for the fierce warrior inside you.
5. Sapphire (September)
This dark blue birthstone may not be as unique as the garnet, but it’s certainly a stunner. Associated with protection from negative energy and increased mental clarity, this birthstone is also the epitome of elegance, as evidenced by it being a staple in royal wedding rings, like the one passed down from Princess Diana to Duchess Kate.
6. Ruby (July)
Ranging from deep pink to the color of red wine, July babies are lucky to get this pretty stone associated with their birth month. However, while rubies tend to be a little more common, and certainly less rich in hue than garnets, their associations with both love and power still make them a perfect gift for any spouse or friend born in July.
7. Opal & Tourmaline (October)
October is rare in that those born during this fall month have two of the most unique birthstones: opal and tourmaline. The former not only comes in multiple colors, ranging from white to black, it also reflects a rainbow of colors, thanks to the flecks of silica of which it is comprised. The latter stone is equally stunning, ranging from blue to green to pink in color, and is said to promote inner peace, reflection, and wisdom. And when you need the perfect present, the 100 Wow Gifts for The Person Who Has Everything have got you covered.
8. Pearl and Alexandrite (June)
June is one of the few months that gets two birthstones, both pearl and alexandrite. The former, an opaque formation produced by mollusks, is thought to reflect integrity and love, its common white hue also symbolizing purity, although pearls are also found in a wide variety of hues, from pink to black. Alexandrite similarly comes in a variety of colors, including pink, blue, green, gray, red, and yellow, with many stones bearing more than one hue. And while pearls are rarely thought to possess the powers of gemstones, Alexandrite is thought by many crystal healers to have health-promoting properties.
9. Tanzanite, Turquoise, and Blue Zircon (December)
December has the distinction of being the only month with three separate birthstones: tanzanite, turquoise, and blue zircon. The former is a pretty blue or violet stone, albeit one that lacks the intense color of an emerald. Turquoise, one of the most unique-looking gemstones, tends to bear its namesake hue, although it often comes flecked with gold, orange, and black, as well. And blue zircon is, unsurprisingly, blue in hue, although slightly lighter than tanzanite. And while both zircon and turquoise are thought to have protective properties, guiding those who wear them to better health, increased wisdom, and wealth, tanzanite doesn’t have a whole lot of mythology behind it.
10. Peridot (August)
August has two major faults: it’s an insufferably hot month in many parts of the world, and its birthstone leaves something to be desired. Peridot, a green stone thought to have been one of the original jewels in Aaron’s breastplate, is thought by many crystal enthusiasts to ease stress. Unfortunately, unless it’s St. Patrick’s Day, it’s not exactly an easy hue to color-coordinate with most outfits.
11. Citrine and Topaz (November)
Yellow stones are rarely top picks, which is why citrine ranks so low on the birthstone list. And while yellow is the hue most commonly associated with it, this November birthstone also comes in brown and shades of orange. Topaz, November’s other birthstone, comes in a wide range of colors, including blue, green, and pink, although it also commonly bears a not-so-attractive yellow hue.
12. Diamond (April)
The priciest and most prized of all the birthstones, those born in April have the double-edged sword of having diamonds assigned to their birth month. While these stones are associated with love, purity, creativity, self-esteem, and power, they’re often a little cost-prohibitive, meaning you’re unlikely to pick one up without forking your whole paycheck. And while they’re pretty, even diamonds in more vibrant hues aren’t even that interesting, certainly not matching the appeal of the more colorful and unique stones on the list.
To discover more amazing secrets about living your best life, click here to sign up for our FREE daily newsletter!