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Modern Birthstones

The 12 signs of the zodiac had long been associated with a gemstone, which was thought to strike a chord with the character of someone born under that zodiac sign, and therefore bring that person good fortune. Later gemstones were linked to months rather than astrological signs, bringing into fruition the concept of 'birthstones'. In 1912 the National Association of Jewelers released a revised 'Modern Birthstones' list, and more additions to this list have been made over time. Here is The Sapphire Merchants guide to modern birthstones.


January - Garnet


Garnet was associated with January in the ancient Ayurvedic tradition, as well as being a part of modern birthstone lists. When we think of garnet the colour red most often comes to mind, however, garnet comes in many colour choices. Tsavorite garnet is a vivid green, Hessonite garnet ranges from oranges into shades of brown and Rhodolite garnet comes in attractive pink through to purple hue. Demantoid garnet is the rarest of the garnet types, this gemstone has impressive diamond-like lustre due to its high refractive index. This green beauty was a favourite precious gemstone of Carl Fabergé, a jeweller to the Imperial Family of Russia. Fabergé often incorporated this natural treasure into his iconic imperial Easter eggs.


February - Amethyst


Amethyst has long been associated with royalty and wine and is the birthstone for February in both modern and traditional lists. Amethyst is a type of quartz crystal that ranges from a very pale lilac tone to a strong reddish-purple. It is one of the more affordable gemstones with top quality and colour examples priced at around NZD 140 per carat.


March - Aquamarine


In 1952 aquamarine was designated as March's birthstone taking the place of the traditional option of bloodstone. The name Aquamarine translates to 'sea water' in Latin, fitting, as March falls under the zodiac of Pisces, a water sign. Aquamarine belongs to the Beryl family and is closely related to emerald and morganite. Most natural coloured aquamarine is a light bluish-green and before the 19th century, this colour was fashionable. Today Aquamarine is often heat-treated to remove any trace of the green hue, thereby morphing it into a blue gemstone. The more intense the blue colour, the more valuable the gemstone.


April - Diamond


Assigned to April in both the modern and traditional lists, diamond is said to improve relationships for those with birthdays in April. When we think of diamonds we most often associate them with the colour white. However, diamonds come in all shades; yellow, pink, brown, blue, black and options like salt and pepper (which have been gaining in popularity in recent months). Diamonds are renowned for their intense lustre and sparkle and hold the reigning title for the most popular gemstone choice for a ring.


May - Emerald


Western birthstone tradition has roots in the bible, which links gemstones, including emeralds, to zodiac signs (originally represented at the 12 tribes of Israel). A high-quality emerald is truly a sight to behold. It is classed as a 'precious gemstone' one of the "Big Four", sitting alongside diamond, ruby and sapphire. The finest quality Colombian emeralds can fetch up to NZD 70,000 per carat! However, for those with more modest budgets options can be sourced for as little as NZD 115 per carat. The Sapphire Merchant can source emerald options from Columbia, Ethiopia, Zambia and Brazil. Perfect for a May baby's bespoke jewellery creation.


June - Pearl and Alexandrite


Pearl, representing purity, is the most traditional gemstone for June. However, the modern birthstone list sights moonstone or alexandrite as an alternative. Naturally occurring pearls are rare and for this reason, they are expensive. Cultivated or cultured pearls are much more affordable and are in ample supply. Alexandrite the modern birthstone for June is a variety of chrysoberyl and is prized because it changes colour in different lighting. Original deposits were discovered in the Ural Mountain region, hence its name, a nod to Alexander II, former emperor of Imperial Russia. Due to the rarity of Alexandrite the price for a good quality gemstone is high. The Sapphire Merchant can source and broker top quality Alexandrite for customers who require this fabulous gemstone.


July - Ruby


Ruby is both the modern and traditional birthstone for July. Known as 'the king of coloured gems' ruby has enjoyed incredible popularity spanning centuries. Pigeon Blood rubies are the most sought after for their deep red hue that has the faintest touch of purple. Top quality specimens come from Magok, Sri Lanka and Mozambique. Rubies represent many things to many different cultures; passion, power and youth to name a few. And old Hindu belief states that a ruby will bestow on its owner health, wealth, and cheerful nature. Ruby is a part of the "Big Four". The Big Four represents the most valuable gemstones in the gem world and includes Diamond, Sapphire & Emerald. The Sapphire Merchant now stocks pigeon blood rubies perfect for fine, heirloom quality jewellery.


August - Peridot or Spinel


Before 1900, August's birthstone was Sardonyx. In modern lists, Peridot and Spinel are both cited. Peridot is a semi-precious gemstone that has a vivid grass green hue. The best quality Peridot often comes from Pakistan and should be untreated. Though small carat sizes of Peridot are generally inexpensive, prices begin to soar for exceptional gemstones over 3 carats in size. The second modern option Spinel gives the August baby a rich picking of colour and cut for their birthstone. Often mistaken for sapphire or ruby, spinel comes in blue, pink, grey, purple and red. Spinel has enjoyed increased popularity over the years and now features in the expensive creations of many of the high jewellery houses.



Padparadscha sapphire and pink sapphire gemstones
A selection of sapphires from The Sapphire Merchant

September - Sapphire


Fortunate September babies having the versatile sapphire gemstone as their birthstone. Ranging from white through to black and every colour in-between, sapphire gives so many options. Treasured across cultures with a rich and detailed history, sapphires represent truth, faithfulness and nobility. Sapphire is the most popular choice of coloured gemstone when having quality jewellery pieces made. This is because it is durable, rating 9 on the Mohs scale, just under diamond, and there is a wide variety of colours, carat sizes and cuts on the market. Sapphires are what we do best here at The Sapphire Merchant! Each sapphire available on our website is handpicked and certified so you can be assured of authenticity and quality. Our mission is to offer quality sapphires for all budgets and tastes. Perfect for our September baby customers!


October - Opal and Tourmaline


Opal was designated as October's birthstone by the American National Association of Jewelers in 1912. Opals are admired for their shifting colours in bright, bold and electric hues. Each opal has a work of art appearing on its surface; a sunset, galaxy or landscape captured in this precious gemstone. Tourmaline, the modern birthstone for October dates back to ancient Egyptian times. Legend says that the Pharaohs believed that tourmaline crystal gained its beautiful flush of colours when it broke through a rainbow while rising through the earth. Therefore tourmaline is more than just a gemstone - it is a shard of a rainbow. No other precious gemstone has such richness in colour variation as tourmaline. There are more than 30 spectacular mineral species in the tourmaline family, many named after their colour! It seems like the October baby is the most spoiled for choice when it comes to the colour of their birthstone. The Sapphire Merchant stocks a beautiful range of tourmaline gemstones, including watermelon tourmaline and Paraiba tourmaline.


November - Citrine


Citrine is one of the more recent additions to the list, put forward by American Jewelers in 1952. Citrine is golden sunshine trapped in a gemstone. Believe it or not real citrine is extraordinarily rare. Most citrine that is gold on the market today is heat-treated amethyst. Because citrine is a more affordable gemstone larger carat sizes can be acquired without the enormous price tag. This means big, bright and bold options for the November baby!



December - Zircon and Tanzanite


Zircon was recognised as one of the modern birthstones for December in 1952 when it replaced the traditional birthstones Lapis Lazuli and Turquoise. Zircon is an incredible natural gemstone that is less recognised than other coloured gemstones. Blue is the most prized of the zircon colours, however, it also comes in red, orange, yellow, brown and green. Tanzanite a newcomer to the gem world, made its first appearance on the market around 1962. Tanzanite has a deep and saturated velvety tone and ranges from blue to violet on the colour scale. As the years go on it has enjoyed rising popularity, with many of the major jewellery houses using Tanzanite in their high-end creations. The Sapphire Merchant is able to source exceptional quality Zircon and Tanzanite, please contact us with your specifications.


Jewellery that incorporates a persons birthstone makes for a sentimental and treasured gift. As a child the very first ring I received as a gift was from my grandmother. It was silver and set with a beautiful 0.25ct peridot, my birthstone. This ring, though inexpensive was a priceless treasure that I still have tucked away today. Birthstones bring another layer of meaning to the jewellery we wear. The Sapphire Merchant stocks many birthstone options and we are able to source and broker all options of the traditional and modern birthstone lists. Contact us today to discuss your options.


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