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Gemstone Meanings

Updated on June 19, 2013
Gemstones come in all colors and shapes. Some people consider crystals, like this crystal ball, to be gems.
Gemstones come in all colors and shapes. Some people consider crystals, like this crystal ball, to be gems. | Source

by Kathy Batesel

Birthday Gemstones and More

As a girl, I collected rocks. As a woman, I still collect rocks! Today, I'm a bit more discriminating, perhaps, but gemstones and minerals of all types can still make my heart skip a beat.

If you've never been to a gem and mineral show, you've been deprived! Birthstone jewelry may be the most frequent exposure most of us have to these tiny treasures, but there is just so much more to them than what you'll see in a jewelry store.

Now, I'm not a gemologist. I don't craft jewelry. But I love these sparkling gems enough that I've decided to write a series of articles about them, starting with this one. Today, I'll describe a few of the different ways gemstones are used and their meanings.

Are You Familiar with the Amazing Fabergé Imperial Eggs?

Gemstones and Minerals

Most gemstones are minerals, but few minerals are gemstones. To be considered a gem, a stone typically has shone qualities that make it desirable for adorning beautiful objects and people. This normally means it's durable and beautiful, but not always. The International Gem Society highlights the difficulty of defining gemstones, describing that amber and pearl, for instance, are organic materials, and opals are known for their lack or durability.

Often gemstones are faceted, polished, and turned into jewelry like birthstone rings, but some are unfaceted, like turquoise and coral.

Then there's the whole color thing. Most stones get their color from impurities! For instance, aluminum oxide can be colorless in its purest form, which gemologists would call "Corundum." Corundum resembles a diamond, but that same aluminum oxide becomes a ruby if the element Chromium was present when it formed, and sapphire if it instead got diluted with titanium.

The opposite is also true. A single type of stone can have many different colors. Over 200 different shades of color have been identified among diamonds.

Since I'm not a scientist, we'll keep things simple and focus on the kinds of things that are easier to remember and don't require a university science degree, shall we?

  • Gemstones may be faceted or smooth.
  • Gemstones are precious or semi-precious stones.
  • Gems have been treasured since ancient times for supposed healing and magical powers.
  • Gemstones may be natural or man-made.
  • Gemstones may undergo special treatments like irradiation to produce colors that are not found naturally, like the deeper blue of an irradiated blue topaz.

Smithsonian Handbooks: Gemstones
Smithsonian Handbooks: Gemstones

For a handy reference that describes the properties, folklore, and historical data about stones using vivid pictures and easy-to-understand language, keep this book nearby.


Meanings and Magic of Gemstones

The gems we consider birthstones today are like other precious minerals in that they've long been believed to have special properties. However, they were only correlated to a wearer's birth months in the late 19th century, with tourmaline being added as an alternate gemstone in 1913. This was the last time a gemstone was officially "assigned" to a birth month.

Many sources describe different benefits for a single gem. The ones I've included here are commonly discovered when seeking a stone's significance.

Birthstones Meanings

Amethyst (February)
Aids sobriety
Promotes Wisdom
Aquamarine (March)
Protection at sea
Soothe & calm fears
Provide clarity of mind
Blue Topaz (December)
Promotes healing
Citrine (November)
Brings happiness
Diamond (April)
Protection from poisons
Emerald (May)
Protects Eyesight
Lifts depression & insomnia
Aids fertility
Garnet (January)
Increases energy & stamina
Brings good fortune in business
Opal (October)
Aids imagination, dreaming, healing
Boosts vision
Pearl (June)
Purity, Innocence
Peridot (August)
Brings growth & prosperity
Protect gall bladder
Promotes understanding in love
Ruby (July)
Friendship and love
Helps avoid misfortune
Helps avoid illness
Promotes love
Sapphire (September)
Peace & Happiness
Improves communication
Helps wearer predict future
Topaz (November)
Promotes healing & good fortune
Promote recognition
Blue Topaz (December)
Boosts mood
Increases confidence
Makes wearer invisible from danger
Tourmaline (October)
Relieve arthritis, heart disease
Strengthen body & spirit
Protection from Danger

Other Stones' Meanings

Many people believe all stones have meaning and magnetic energies. Quartz crystals, for instance, aren't particularly considered to be semi-precious stones, but have been used often by people interested in metaphysics to clarify their homes and bodies.

For a thorough list of meanings of non-faceted gemstones, visit Beadage, a website dedicated to crafting beaded jewelry.

To learn meanings of crystals and lesser-known stones, check out jewelry artist David Weitzman's article.

Buying Gemstones, Minerals, and Jewelry

I had a wonderful experience touring the famous Tucson Gem & Mineralogy show shown here. I have to add that this video doesn't begin to do justice to the displays!

Gemologists and rock-hounds from around the world come together to buy and sell their stones. It's possible to find something for every budget, but it may be hard to figure out where to start. Sellers may offer one or more of these:

  • Loose, raw stones
  • Loose, cut and polished stones
  • Chains of beads
  • Polished minerals like agate and malachite
  • Geodes
  • Crafted jewelry
  • Crafted items like the White House shown in the video
  • Crystals

Fortunately, it's not necessary to go to Tucson to buy attractive additions for your collection. You can buy loose stones or jewelry online through Ebay (make sure you're purchasing from someone reputable with a great deal of positive feedback!) or find appealing items at your local jewelry store. My husband bought me this gorgeous septarian geode locally last Christmas.



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  • jellygator profile image

    jellygator 5 years ago from USA

    Cool! Thanks, Neinapets!

  • Neinahpets profile image

    Stephanie 5 years ago from Canada

    Great article! Thanks for sharing. I'm definitely imaginative so Opal does fit me!

  • jellygator profile image

    jellygator 5 years ago from USA

    Thanks, ESA!

  • EyesStraightAhead profile image

    Shell Vera 5 years ago from Connecticut, USA

    Love the straight-forward explanation! Thank you for sharing.

  • jellygator profile image

    jellygator 5 years ago from USA

    Thank you, Carol!

  • carol7777 profile image

    carol stanley 5 years ago from Arizona

    I loved this hub and so enjoyed reading it. Fun to know about our birthstones. I am voting up, sharing and pinning.