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January- Garnet
 
Garnets come in almost every color of the rainbow and even in very rare and prized color-change varieties, giving a bit of brightness for January's birthstone in the dead of winter. Garnets are found all over the world and are classified in many groups, including almandite (purplish red), spessartite (from golden orange to deep reddish-brown), grossularite (shades of green), pyrope (dark red), and the very rare uvarovite (emerald green). The name garnet comes from the Latin "Malum granatum" meaning pomegranate seeds, which look like deep red garnets. Garnets are traditionally symbols of health, commitment, and passion. Some believe that it was a dark red garnet that guided Noah through the flood.
 
Amethyst – February
 
Beautiful purple amethysts are February's birthstone, but you might be surprised to know that in addition to a wide range of purple hues, amethyst can also be heat treated to turn green or golden orange (then becoming prasiolite or citrine, respectively). This is because those stones and others are part of the quartz family. Amethyst is a traditional symbol of spirituality, but it also has connections to sobriety. Its name comes from the Greek "amethustos" meaning not drunken, and ancients believed that grinding amethysts and adding it to their wine would prevent them from feeling the wine's effects. Found throughout the world, amethyst is an inexpensive gem, making it a perfect choice for a birthstone gift.
 
Aquamarine – March
 
March's birthstone gets its name from the Latin "aqua" for water and "mare" for sea. This may be the most fitting name of all gemstones, because of the light blue and sea-blue-green shades that aquamarine is found in. The two most important sources in the world for aquamarine are Brazil and Africa, but it's also mined in China, India, Russia, and the U.S., including Colorado and North Carolina. Aquamarine's name and color make it a fitting gemstone for sailors, thought to keep the wearer safe while on water, to prevent seasickness, and to give its wearer courage.

Diamond - April
 
April babies are lucky to have diamond, the hardest gemstone on earth, as their birthstone. Diamond even gets its name from the Greek word "adamas" meaning invincible. Diamonds are commonly graded and valued partly for their lack of color, but colored diamonds called "fancies"--especially pink, yellow, blue, red, green, black, and purple--are rare and very valuable. Diamonds are the only gem composed of a single element, carbon, making it a perfect symbol of purity, but it has held many meanings throughout history, including courage, innocence, friendship, love, faith, and strength. Primary sources for diamonds include Africa, Russia, Canada, and Brazil.

Emerald - May
 
May's birthstone is the distinctive grass-green emerald. Colombian emeralds, considered the world's finest for their extraordinary color and crystallization, form in a different geological environment (black argillaceous limestone) than all other known emerald deposits. Other primary sources for emerald include Africa, Russia, Afghanistan, Australia, India, Madagascar, and the U.S. (North Carolina). Rather than detracting much from their value, inclusions in emeralds are common and an easy way to tell a genuine emerald from fakes. Ancient Greeks believed emerald could reveal faithfulness among lovers, and it was one of the earliest known gems traded at market in Babylon around 4000 B.C.

Pearl – June
 
June's birthstone, the pearl, is the only birthstone that is organic, was once living, and not really a "stone" at all. Once all pearls were natural and found so rarely, mostly in the Persian Gulf once in every 15,000 oysters. Today nearly all pearls are cultured but no less beautiful and lustrous. Pearls form in a variety of shapes, including round, off-round, semi-baroque, baroque, rice-shaped, button or disk. Some ancient Romans covered whole pieces of furniture in pearl, and in some monarchies, only members of the royal were legally allowed to wear pearls.

Alexandrite is an alternative birthstone for June.
 
Ruby - July
 
July's pretty red birthstone is ruby, the red variety of corundum. Treasured by royalty, religion, and various cultures, rubies are known to many as the King of Gems. Ancient Indians believed the God created rubies and then created man to own it. It was believed to burn with such a fire that it could cause water to boil. Before the 20th century, rubies were more valuable than diamonds--as much as eight times more valuable in the 16th century. The world's finest rubies are in the Mogok valley in Upper Burma, between India and China. In the middle of this tiny village, stands the Panchan-htar-pwe buying district, the epicenter of the world market on rubies. Buyers come looking for  pigeon blood red rubies, revered by the market as the very best.

Peridot - August
 
August's birthstone peridot comes in a wide variety of green shades, from light yellowish-green to a bright spring green, and sometimes olive shades. Mostly found in Arizona in the U.S., peridot has quite a bit of mystery to its history. It has been found in meteors falling to the earth, and it is still treasured by native Hawaiians as the tears of Pele, where some beaches shine green because of the abundance of "olivine" in the sand. Supposedly Ancient Egyptian miners would trek out in the evening to find glowing reflections from peridot, mark the spot, and return to mine it the next day. When Crusaders discovered peridot in Egypt, they thought they had discovered emeralds; to this day, some stones in the church collections labeled emeralds are actually peridot. Over the years, peridot has been considered a healing stone that could help lungs, heart, spleen, stomach ulcers, intestines, and even eyesight.
 
Sapphire - September
 
Sapphire comes in every color except red, which would make it a ruby instead. The most noted color of this September birthstone is cornflower blue, and the famous Padparadscha sapphire, a light to medium orange-pink, is usually the most valued. Legend suggests that the Ten Commandments were inscribed on sapphire tablets, which would be a miracle indeed due to its hardness. Ancient Egyptian physicians prescribed grinding sapphires into a wash to help the eyes. It has also been prescribed for indigestion, scorpion bites, boils, rheumatism, and mental illness, making it a common symbol of healing. Sapphire is also a traditional symbol of spiritual enlightenment and peace. Some of the most desired sapphires come from Kashmir, India; other key sources include Sri Lanka, Thailand, and the U.S. in Montana.
 
Opal - October
 
A fitting birthstone for October, opal's play of color brings to mind colorful autumn leaves. While opals were first mined around 4000 B.C. in Ethiopia, Hungarian opals came into favor around 100 B.C. and remained popular for more than a thousand years. In 1829, a misunderstanding in a Sir Walter Scott novel gave birth to the idea that opals are bad luck, which ended their popularity for many years. Later when Australian opals came to market, they were so brilliant and colorful that they were assumed to be fakes. Fortunately Queen Victoria fell in love with them, and opals soon regained their popularity. While opals are now found in many countries, Australian opals are still the most plentiful and most valued.

Tourmaline is an alternative birthstone for October.
 
Citrine - November
 
Citrine's earthy golden-orange hues make it a fitting birthstone for November babies born in a season of pumpkins and golden autumn leaves. Made so popular by Gloria Swanson and other film stars of old Hollywood in the 1930's, it was unaffordable to almost everyone for awhile. Today those same beautiful citrines are quite affordable, not to mention very clean, bright, and naturally free of inclusions. Citrine is traditionally believed to increase creativity and clarity, as well as to foster a healthy heart, kidney, muscles, and liver.

Blue Topaz - December
 
Not only do they have Christmas in their month, but December babies have a variety of birthstones to choose from, including blue topaz. The origin of the name topaz is believed to be from the ancient Topasos Islands near Greece--easy to believe considering the similarities between the color of the beautiful blue Grecian seas and the color of blue topaz. Topaz is a traditional symbol of clear vision and was believed to ward off enchantment and change color to indicate poisoned food or drink. Among other ailments, topaz was believed to cure insomnia and asthma, and ancient Greeks believed topaz could increase its wearer's strength.

Turquoise, tanzanite, and blue zircon are alternative birthstones for December.
 


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David Ungar trading as dulondon.com
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