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By the Way, What's Your Birthstone?

In several places around the world, people associate specific varieties of gemstones with different aspects of their life. Some people consider using crystals as a means for enhancing health, prosperity and wellness, with each crystal type affecting a certain goal or aspiration.

Others put an attachment between crystals and their zodiac signs, which are different for the western and eastern versions of the zodiac system. The interweaving of crystals into our culture seems to be derived from history's longstanding view of crystals and gems as symbols of importance.

One particular, and very often uniformly accepted association of gemstones to human culture- is the designation of birthstones. Here's a quick look at each month's assigned birthstone according to the general public:

January's Birthstone is Garnet, which is actually an entire mineral group that's made up of different species and varieties- all called garnet as well. Tsavorite, Demantoid and Rhodolite are all garnets that have slightly different properties due to deviances in their crystals.

February's Birthstone is Amethyst. Along with citrine, amethyst is one of the most popular varieties of the mineral known as quartz. There was a time long ago when amethyst was considered as precious and as valuable as ruby, sapphire and emerald. When the vast Brazilian mining sources turned up, the supply of amethyst skyrocketed and was able to meet worldwide demand. Because of this though, it's prices also became much more affordable for everyone.

March's Birthstone is Aquamarine. This is the stone of the ocean, whose name is literally derived from the sea. Aquamarine is the second most expensive variety of the gem species known as beryl, and is the most famously known light-blue colored gemstone in the world.

April's Birthstone is Diamond, which needs no introduction. Diamond is the hardest mineral on the planet. It symbolizes one's eternal commitment to a partner, and has grown to be the ultimate symbol for marriage in our contemporary society.

May's Birthstone is Emerald. The green variety of beryl is typically its most expensive type. Emerald is also considered one of the 'Big Three' colored stones that make up a huge portion of the jewelry industry. It's said that the best emerald source is Colombia, where the mines of Muzo and Chivor produce emeralds with intensely saturated viridian greens.

June's Birthstone is either Pearl or Alexandrite. There are four types of pearls used today in the jewelry trade: Akoya, South Sea, Tahitian and Freshwater. Any can be used as appropriate birthstone jewelry for June. Likewise, alexandrite is also a famously traded stone today, as the color-change variety of fine chrysoberyl.

July's Birthstone is Ruby, which was once referred to as ratnaraj or 'the king of all colored gemstones'. Ruby actually holds the most expensive price-per-carat of all gemstones apart from diamond. It's also been mentioned in bible passages four times, and has a distinct recognition in the history of many popular cultures and ethnicities.

August's Birthstone is Peridot, which is the most famous light green stone variety in the world, and the gem-quality version of the mineral known as olivine. Peridot specimens were even harvested from meteorites that fell from space.

September's Birthstone is Sapphire. The blue hues of sapphire may be the most famous, but sapphire actually comes in a rainbow of colors, including orange, yellow, pink, black and green. Ruby and sapphire actually have nearly the exact same chemical composition, differing mainly just by their trace-elements that cause their unique colors.

October's Birthstone is either Tourmaline or Opal. Tourmaline is also a mineral group, and one that boasts the greatest variety of colors out of any popularly traded gem today. Some tourmaline specimens can even have up to five colors in a single crystal (Liddicoatite). Opal on the other hand, is an amorphous gem that exhibits a beautifully dazzling phenomena called play-of-color.

November's Birthstone is either Topaz or Citrine. Both are famously known golden gemstones, although topaz can come in other colors as well. These two gems are very much associated with fortune and the attraction of prosperity.

December's Birthstone is either Tanzanite, Zircon or Turquoise. Each of these three stones exhibit different shades of blue, with tanzanite usually holding the most in terms of saturation and intensity. It is also the most expensive of the three.

Some say that the origins of adopting gemstones to symbolize one's birth month has its roots in biblical sources. In the book of Exodus, there is a mention of Aaron's breastplate, which was inlaid with twelve different gemstones to symbolize the twelve tribes of Israel during that period. The stones that were present included sapphire, emerald, topaz, carbuncle, sardius, agate, amethyst, ligure, onyx, beryl, jasper, and diamond.

Carrying one's birthstone, or wearing it on your person is said to bring benefits to him or her, especially during the month of their birth. While this is again, outside of the gemological realm, it is a part of jewelry market studies. People often use birthstone themes to create beautiful pieces that appeal to each individual by a specific personal attachment (the birthday).

Whether you believe in birthstones or not, it is quite curious to note that gemstones that have had significance back during the days of our ancestors, still hold a special place and meaning for us today, in modern society.
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