The type of birthstone associated with a birth month has changed very little over the last five hundred years. In western tradition 12 precious and semi-precious gemstones were kept, with a different stone worn each month. Eastern cultures use similar stones, but use astrology to determine how a gemstone is linked to an individual.
Some peridot stones date back to the Egyptian pharaohs, though lapis lazuli and turquoise were the semi-precious stones most often used. These stones were often ground into powder for their medicinal properties.
Sapphires, rubies and emeralds may be rarer than their fourth precious stone, diamond, however diamonds are longer-lasting…and are forever, according to the 1948 De Beers campaign, which is still referenced in their engagement adverts today.
Originally, sapphires were used in engagement rings, as the precious stones symbolised romantic love and truth.
January: Garnet, an energising stone.
February: Amethyst, known for its beauty has been worth as much as a diamond.
March: Aquamarine, the calming stone, inspiring truth and trust. And one of the TH March colours.
April: Diamond, the classic twentieth-century stone for engagement rings.
May: Emeralds, which can grow incredibly large. The Emerald Unguentarium, housed in Vienna, weighing 2,860 carats, is considered the largest in the world.
June: Pearl and Moonstone, the similarly-hued gems, are connected with June births. The pearl contains organic matter, which some classify as a stone, rather than a gemstone.
July: Ruby, although this is the month with the biggest change to the birthstone, as it was previously turquoise.
August: Peridot, with the green pigment in this gemstone dependent on the level of iron present.
September: Sapphire, of which a 12-carat oval is the centrepiece of one of the most famous engagement rings. Previously given to Princess Diana, the ring now belongs to Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge.
October: Opal, once considered to be good luck because of the other gemstone colours seemingly present in the stone.
November: Topaz, a yellow gemstone in its natural state was believed to be connected to the sun, by the Egyptians and the Romans.
December: Tanzanite, which was introduced to the market in 1968 by Tiffany and Co., after Tanzania, where the stones were found.
In addition to being considered a birthstone, both precious and semi-precious gemstones can be given to celebrate wedding anniversaries.