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Exploring Birthstones

Exploring Birthstones

If you have ever tried to work out what your birthstone is, you will probably know that there are two main birthstone lists; the traditional one and the modern one. The traditional birthstone list dates back to 16th Century Poland and includes gems that are historically associated with each month of the year. The modern list was introduced in 1912 by the National Association of Jewelers and incorporates gems that were easier to sell and promote on a large scale than their traditional counterparts.

Additions to the modern list have been made as recently as 2016, when spinel was added as a birthstone for August. It is also possible to find alternative birthstone lists based on zodiac sign or the day of the week you were born, rather than calendar month and, if you don’t really like you own birthstone, you could opt for a jewellery design that incorporates one of the birthstones of someone who means a lot to you, such as your partner or a parent, sibling or child.

Modern Birthstone List:

January — Garnet

February — Amethyst

March — Aquamarine

April — Diamond

May — Emerald

June — Alexandrite

July — Ruby

August — Peridot or Spinel

September — Sapphire

October — Tourmaline

November — Golden Topaz or Citrine

December — Blue Zircon, Blue Topaz, or Tanzanite

Traditional Birthstone List:

January — Garnet

February — Amethyst

March — Bloodstone

April — Diamond

May — Emerald

June — Pearl

July — Ruby

August — Sardonyx

September — Sapphire

October — Opal

November — Topaz

December — Turquoise or Lapis 

Zodiac Birthstone List:

Aquarius (20 January – 18 February) - Garnet

Pisces  (19 February – 20 March) - Amethyst

Aries   (21 March – 19 April) Bloodstone

Taurus (20 April – 20 May) - Sapphire

Gemini (21 May – 20 June) - Agate

Cancer (21 June – 22 July) - Emerald

Leo (23 July – 22 August) - Onyx

Virgo (23 August – 22 September) - Carnelian

Libra (23 September – 22 October) - Chrysolite

Scorpio (23 October – 21 November) - Beryl

Sagittarius (22 November – 21 December) - Topaz

Capricorn (22 December – 19 January) – Ruby

Day of the Week Birthstone List:

Sunday           topaz, diamond

Monday          pearl, crystal

Tuesday         ruby, emerald

Wednesday    amethyst, lodestone

Thursday       sapphire, carnelian

Friday             emerald, cat's eye

Saturday        turquoise, diamond

The existence of birthstones, from whichever source you choose to identify them, makes it easier to tell your unique story with the jewellery that you wear. There may be millions of other people who share your birth month, but the rainbow constellation created by the birthstones of your particular family and friends is unique and, if you wear natural gemstones, each of those has its own particular character too.

One of the driving forces behind establishing Wild & Fine was to celebrate the power of charm jewellery to tell a story. Inspired by traditional charm bracelets, handed down from mother to daughter to grand daughter, with each charm representing a different special occasion or trip to a new destination, each W&F charm has its own tale to tell.  A jewellery box can contain as many stories as a diary and the ones that the owner knows about are only a chapter or two in each precious piece’s rich history. The power of narrative underpins our brand and, given that birthstones are the starting point for so many jewellery stories, we decided we needed to give them a more prominent place in our collection.

With this in mind, we are going to look in more detail at the traditional and modern birthstones for each month, starting with October, not only because we rebel at the convention of starting all calendar-based rundowns in January, but also because opals and tourmalines are two of our favourite gemstones.  

Traditional October Birthstone - Opal

There is a lot going on in an opal. The spectrum of different coloured flashes simultaneously recalls a mystic lava flow, a flickering flame and the colourful rainbow slick on the surface of a bubble. This kaleidoscopic gemstone can be found in artefacts dating back as far as 4000BC and it has long been credited with magical properties. Greek tradition suggests that an opal has the power to bestow the gift of foresight upon its owner, while Arabian folklore tells of opals falling from heaven in flashes of lightning. In the Middle Ages, opals were know as “the eye stone” and people believed that wearing them could protect their eyesight and even make them invisible, if wrapped in a bay leaf and held in the hand!

Queen Victoria loved opals, keeping a collection for herself and gifting them to her daughters and her friends. During the end of Queen Victoria’s reign, opals were discovered in Australia, and it continues to be a leading world producer of the gem today.

Both absorbent and reflective, opals are karmic stones, reminding us that the thoughts and energy we put out into the world inform what we receive in return.

Opal has traditionally been worn to stimulate creativity and encourage authenticity of expression. 

If you or your intended gift recipient has an October birthday and you either don’t feel an affinity to opal or do not have the budget for it, you may be pleased to discover that paua shell is sometimes referred to as the opal of the sea. This makes it a great alternative for the birthstone jewellery of any October babies who also feel a strong connection with the ocean.

Paua is the Maori name for the abalone sea mollusc and it is one of the few adornments used in fine jewellery that are organic in origin (the others being pearl and amber).  Paua feed on seaweed and the different varieties they eat informs the colours and patterns found in their shells.

Wearing paua shell is meant to strengthen the body and heart and enable the wearer to express their feelings more clearly. The way in which the colours shift and change in the light is symbolic of change and transition, so Paua shell jewellery is the perfect choice for people who need courage and resolve to see them through change and upheaval.  

Modern October Birthstone - Tourmaline

Legend has it that tourmalines are created from the rare energy of a rainbow and the colour-changing magic of many tourmalines certainly makes you believe this. First discovered by Dutch traders off the west coast of Italy at the turn of the 18th Century, tourmaline quickly became popular with artists, authors and actors, who felt that it stimulated creativity. It was also believed that it could help to promote sound sleep and protect against danger. 

The word ‘tourmaline’ comes from the Sinhalese term ‘turmali’ which translates as ‘unknown gemstone of mixed colour’ and denotes the peculiar tendency of tourmaline to be mistaken for other gemstones; in fact, some of the rubies in the Russian crown jewels are now understood to be tourmalines.  

Tourmalines are believed to increase self-confidence, improve concentration and facilitate clear communication. They are also understood to dispel negative energies and help process feelings of fear and grief.

Each different kind of tourmaline has its own unique properties and a watermelon tourmaline is very different in appearance to blue or black tourmaline. October babies are lucky in this respect, as they have a whole spectrum of different colours to choose from when it comes to selecting birthstone jewellery. Wild & Fine jewellery uses the following four types of tourmaline:

Watermelon Tourmaline

Associated with feelings of calm and joy, watermelon tourmaline is one of the Wild & Fine team’s favourite gemstones. If you or someone in your life is prone to drama and histrionics, the balance and level-headedness promoted by watermelon tourmaline may be just what you need! Whether or not it succeeds in making temperaments more guru than (Lady) gaga, it’s hard not to love the refreshing combination of vibrant pink and clear green in this beautiful stone.

Blue Tourmaline (Indicolite)

Also known as Indicolite, which refers to its deep blue colour, this is one of the more rare types of tourmaline. It is closely linked to deep water and is believed to promote clear and honest communication. A piece of blue tourmaline under your pillow is thought to aid sleep and promote insightful dreaming.

Green Tourmaline (Verdelite)

Also known as Verdelite, green tourmaline is believed to attract luck and success. It is also a stone for energy and stamina, so a good choice for athletes and sportspeople too

Pink Tourmaline

Also known as Elbaite, Pink Tourmaline is a balancing gemstone that can help you overcome anxiety and feel greater empathy for others.  It is a stone of self-healing that is believed to assuage emotional pain and destructive feelings.

Pink tourmaline is the gemstone of choice to either help reinvigorate a faltering friendship or relationship, or provide the courage to cut ties and start over.

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