Birthstone Facts And FAQs

Are you thinking of buying a birthstone? If so, you’re probably curious about birthstone facts. Particularly, what do birthstones represent and which is the correct one. Right?

On this page, I’ll answer some of the most common questions I’ve gotten about birthstones.

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I’ll also share some fun birthstone facts about these unique gems! By the end of this page, you’ll be better able to make a decision about birthstones.

Let’s get started, shall we?

Birthstone Facts And Frequently Asked Questions

What Are Traditional Birthstones?

What Are Modern Birthstones?

What Are The Birthstones By Month?

What Are The Birthstone Colors?

What Are Alternative Birthstones?

What Is My Birthstone?

What Are The True Birthstones?

Who Got To Decide The Official List Of Birthstones For Each Month?

What Are The Best Birthstones To Choose?

What Are Each Month’s Birthstone Flowers?

1. How Did The Tradition Of Birthstones Start?

That depends on which culture the birthstone stemmed from. Some birthstones used in Christian cultures were derived from biblical sources, others from mythological legends. Still, others became popular birthday gifts simply because the stones were discovered on a king’s birthday…

…ok, well actually that was just one stone. But the originations vary from stone to stone and culture to culture.

So the short answer to this is… nobody really knows! 🙂

2. What Are Traditional Birthstones?

Traditional birthstones were gifts commonly used in ancient cultures. Here’s the traditional birthstone list.

3. What Are Modern Birthstones?

These are birthstones commonly given in more contemporary cultures. Here’s the modern birthstone list.

4. What Are The Birthstones By Month?

Here’s a complete list of birthstones – both the official list and their unofficial alternatives.

5. What Are The Birthstone Colors?

Birthstone colors are related to one of their monthly birthstones. See this birthstone color chart to see which color is yours.

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6. What Are Alternative Birthstones?

One of the interesting birthstone facts is that alternative birthstones are acceptable variations of the modern or traditional stones or the less-popular birthstones used by various cultures now and in past centuries.

For example, the official birthstones for December are turquoise, tanzanite or zircon. The common element in all these stones is the color blue. Some would consider blue topaz or sapphire an acceptable alternative birthstone for December.

7. What Is My Birthstone?

Your birthstone is determined by when you were born. You can get traditional and modern birthstones based on your birth month (see combined birthstone chart), or you can find birthstones by the day of the week you were born or even your season. Click here to see the full list of birthstones.

8. Official Vs Unofficial: What Are The True Birthstones?

Let’s get a bit of confusion on birthstone facts out of the way. I often hear, “I have more than one birthstone listed for my birthday. Which one is the true birthstone?”

Ahh, good question. 

The birthstone tradition began in several different cultures and civilizations over time – mystics, Christians, Pagans, Aztecs and many others. In today’s modern culture, you get to pick from all the world’s traditions. Yay!

But there are “official” birthstones.

There are some they consider “traditional birthstones” because more cultures used them in times past.

Others are titled “modern birthstones” because of their use in modern cultures.

Still others are called “alternatives birthstones” simply because these are similar to the official birthstone list (same color or mineral family, etc.) or because even though they are not used in most cultures, they are used in some.

So which ones are the true birthstones? The answer is, they all are… it just depends on what you are looking for. I personally go with the official birthstone list.

9. Who Got To Decide The Official List Of Birthstones For Each Month?

Key amongst the birthstone facts is that the American Gem Trade Association took it upon themselves in 1912 to create an “official” list. This made it easier for jewelers to make “official birthstones” widely available to the general public.

Due to the variety of traditions however, both ancient and modern, you will see several different birthstones for nearly half of the months out of the year.

And yes, they count as true birthstones too.

10. What Are The Best Birthstones To Choose?

Ultimately, the choice is yours, but here is a tip – consider the giftee.

If you were giving me a birthstone gift, you would have better luck using the birthstone listed from the season or the actual day of the week I was born rather than my birth month.

Why? Just a few vain reasons really.

I was born in October. The traditional stone is opal, but I prefer cut or faceted stones – which you don’t do with opal. But the modern birthstone is pink tourmaline… beautiful as it is, I don’t wear pink. I’m a redhead. Pink clashes.

So think about the person getting this birthstone. It’s a good idea to dig a little and find out what they like before you go buying some expensive thing that they’ll stash in their jewelry box until they can get over the guilt of getting rid of a quality piece of jewelry.

11. What Are Each Month’s Birthstone Flowers?

This is a less common ancient tradition gaining more and more modern popularity – giving flowers instead of stones based on the birth month.

Here’s a basic list of birthstone flowers for you. Click on any flower to learn more about the history and meaning behind it.

January – Carnation
February – Violet or Iris
March – Daffodil
April – Sweet Pea or Daisy
May – Lily
June – Violet or Iris
July – Larkspur (Delphinium)
August – Gladiolus
September – Aster
October – Marigold
November – Chrysanthemum
December – Narcissus or Poinsettia

As you can see, there is a lot to know about birthstone facts. If you want to learn more, be sure to check out my other pages on birthstones. Another helpful page is my birthstone color charts page.

I hope this information was helpful and gave you some insight into these beautiful gemstones.

Related Reading

Birthstone Color Charts

Birthstone Meanings

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