What is a gemstone? Join us as we explore fun facts about gemstones from their origins, symbolism, rarity, and which ones are used as our favorite birthstones.
Gemstones have mesmerized people for centuries. Throughout history, gems had become a sign of wealth and grew even more popular when an entire belief system arose around the energy and symbolic properties of these stunning stones. Of course, we know gemstones are most popular as jewelry, but many civilizations believed they were endowed with mysterious powers.
So, where do these miraculous gems come from? What types of gemstones do we get, and what are birthstones? Join us as we explore the history, origin, colors, and other interesting fun facts about gemstones.
Table of Contents
What Are Gemstones?
Gemstones are minerals, rocks, and other organic materials that are cut and polished to create pieces of jewelry and other attractive accessories for clothing or decorative ornaments. Gems are either considered precious or semi-precious.
Fun fact #1: Of the more than 2,000 identified natural minerals, fewer than 100 are used as gemstones.
Types of Gemstones
There are many different types of gemstones. We’ll look at each category based on how they’re formed. Some are created from minerals, organic materials, inorganic materials, or rocks.
Diamonds, sapphires, rubies, emeralds, and almost all birthstone gems (not opal) are formed from minerals.
Next, we have organic gems. These gems contain both fossil-based gems like amber and organic-formed gems like pearls.
Fun fact #2: Amber is the result of resin from fossilized prehistoric trees! It’s considered to be the softest and lightest gemstone on earth.
There are only two other types of inorganic gems, opal, and obsidian. Obsidian is black volcanic glass formed as a result of volcanic eruptions. Opal is a strange material that can act as a solid crystal but sometimes behaves like a liquid.
Finally, the rock gems category consists of lapis lazuli, a blue, white, or gold stone, and unakite which is a form of granite. Unakite is a greenish-white stone with pink patches.
There is a particular class of gemstones known as synthetic gemstones. These stones are not naturally occurring, like minerals, or formed from organisms, like pearls, but instead are created through human intervention. Synthetic gems are designed to look like naturally occurring gems but without the hefty price tag caused by the rarity of natural stones.
PS: Lab created diamonds aren’t synthetic gems, they’re 100% real diamonds.
The Formation of Diamonds vs. Gemstones
Unlike gemstones, diamonds are the only gem formed by a single element. That element is highly pressurized carbon. Gemstones are usually made up of two or more compounds.
Ever wondered where gemstones come from? Well, the short answer is 3 to 25 miles beneath the Earth’s surface. That is where most gemstones are formed and are then either mined or brought to the earth’s surface during a natural process.
Fun fact #3: There are only two gems, diamonds, and peridot, that are formed and found much deeper in the earth.
What Is The Birthstone For Each Month?
So, what is a birthstone? A birthstone is a gemstone that represents your birth month or zodiac sign. One of the things we love most about birthstones is they make it easy to shop for friends and family birthdays. Don’t know what to gift your loved one? Birthstone jewelry is there to save the day.
Fun fact #4: Did you know that some months have more than one birthstone? At least five months have multiple birthstones. Let’s find out which ones fall into that category:
- January’s birthstone is garnet. Garnet is commonly a stunning red gem but can come in all colors of the rainbow and sometimes change color in different lighting.
- Amethyst is the February birthstone. Amethyst comes in shades of lilac to deep purple and was once reserved for royalty and believed to cure addiction.
- March’s birthstone actually includes two gems, aquamarine, and bloodstone. Aquamarine stuns with its oceanic hues, and bloodstone is said to help protect its wearer.
- April’s birthstone is diamond. This gem needs no introduction as it is arguably one of the world’s most popular and sought-after gems.
- May’s birthstone is emerald. Emerald has been loved for millennia and is known for its captivating green colors, and is said to symbolize rebirth and renewal.
- June has three birthstones, pearl, moonstone, and alexandrite. Pearl is the most popular of the three, while alexandrite is considered one of the rarest gemstones in the world.
- Ruby is the July birthstone most recognized as the stone of love, passion, and wealth, given its rich red colors.
- August also has three unique birthstones, peridot, spinel, and sardonyx. Peridot is the most famous of the three as it only exists in one color- a cosmic green.
- September’s birthstone is sapphire. Sapphires come in many colors but are most famous for their blue variety. Pink sapphires are considered very rare.
- Opal and tourmaline are the birthstones for October. Both gemstones come in a rich array of colors, but opal is more popular as a precious jewel.
- November has two birthstones, citrine and yellow topaz. Both stones are golden in color and symbolize love and affection.
- Turquoise, tanzanite, blue topaz, and zircon make up the birthstones for December. Turquoise is by far the oldest known of the three, while Tanzanite is the most recently discovered.
What Is A Gemstone For Love & Romance?
There are a few stunning options if you’re looking for gemstone jewelry or a gemstone engagement ring that symbolizes love and romance. Rose quartz, pink sapphire, ruby, pink tourmaline, and amethyst. These stones are believed to encourage romantic and self-love, open one’s heart and promote acceptance and faithfulness.
Fun fact #5: Pop royalty, Lady Gaga, and real-life royalty Princess Eugenie both received pink engagement rings.
What Are Gemstones For Good Luck?
Need some extra luck in your life? Peridot, sapphire, and citrine are three of the luckiest gemstones you’ll find. Sapphires are said to attract riches and recover lost wealth. Peridot is also known as the money stone and increases willpower, well-being, and vitality. Finally, the golden stone, citrine, is known to keep bad things away and is a stone of prosperity and protection.
What Are Gemstones For Healing?
Amber, the stunning organic gem, has a strong connection to nature. It can be electrically charged when rubbed against silk or wool and is said to treat headaches. Another healing stone is the oceanic aquamarine. Some people believe this gemstone brings happiness and luck to its wearers and helps them cope when grieving.
The last one on our list of healing gemstones is garnet. Garnet is a deep red gem that energizes wearers as they deal with their health issues. This stone is believed to revitalize the body and mind by increasing wearers’ confidence.
What Are The Gemstones By Color?
Many famous gemstones are known for a specific color, but it should be noted that most of these gemstones come in various colors and hues. For example, two of the most popular gems, diamond, and sapphire, can be found in a rainbow of colors.
Here’s a list of the most well-known gemstones by color:
- Black gemstones: Black sapphire, onyx, black opal, black pearl, obsidian, black pearl, black tourmaline, and fancy black diamond.
- White gemstones: Diamond, opal, pearl, white sapphire, moonstone, white jade, and zircon.
- Gray gemstones: Tahitian pearl, grey sapphire, grey tourmaline, and fancy grey diamond.
- Pink gemstones: Morganite, pink sapphire, rose quartz, pink garnet, pink pearl, pink tourmaline, pink topaz, and fancy pink diamond.
- Red gemstones: Ruby, garnet, red tourmaline, carnelian, and fancy red diamond.
- Brown gemstones: Amber, tiger’s eye, brown tourmaline, citrine, smoky quartz, brown jade, and fancy brown diamond.
- Orange gemstones: Amber, orange sapphire, sunstone, agate, and fancy orange diamond.
- Peach gemstones: Morganite, peach sapphire, fancy peach diamond.
- Yellow gemstones: Citrine, yellow sapphire, amber, yellow topaz, yellow garnet, yellow tourmaline, and fancy yellow diamond.
- Green gemstones: Emerald, peridot, jade, green tsavorite garnets, green agate, green bloodstone, and fancy green diamond.
- Blue gemstones: Blue sapphire, aquamarine, lapis lazuli, blue topaz, blue tourmaline, and fancy blue diamond.
- Purple gemstones: Amethysts, purple sapphire, purple tourmaline, purple garnet, spinel, tanzanite, and fancy purple diamond.
Fun fact #6: In ancient times, women used to wear opal beads in their hair to maintain the blonde color and keep it from fading.
Famous Gemstones And Their Meanings
Amethyst Gemstone Meaning
Because of its color, the ancient Greeks associated amethyst with the wine god Dionysus and believed that the gem could prevent drunkenness. In fact, the word amethystos meant “not drunk” in ancient Greek. Amethyst has also been thought to keep the wearer clear-headed and quick-witted.
Browse our collection of Amethyst birthstone jewelry here.
Aquamarine Gemstone Meaning
Aquamarine is believed to give its wearer courage, mental clarity, and good health. This gem has a long association with water and so aquamarine has been said to keep sailors safe at sea. It’s also been known to purify water and work as an antidote to poison. The stone is also closely tied to mythologies of sirens and mermaids, and some legends say that aquamarines first washed up to shore out of sirens’ treasure chests.
Browse our collection of aquamarine birthstone jewelry here.
Citrine Gemstone Meaning
Citrine is the gem that brings happiness, health, good energy, and luck! It is widely known as “healing quartz” because legend has it that citrine promotes vitality and energy in whomever wears it. The name citrine comes from the Latin root for lemon, and it’s no surprise as the gem shines with different golden hues.
Browse our collection of citrine birthstone jewelry here.
Diamond Gemstone Meaning
Are diamonds tears cried by the gods or remnants from falling stars? Perhaps not, but that is what the ancient Romans and Greeks believed diamonds were. During the Middle Ages, diamonds were thought to be healing stones that could cure ailments ranging from fatigue to mental illness. Nowadays, diamonds are a symbol of strength for relationships and their individual wearers.
Emerald Gemstone Meaning
In ancient Greece and Rome, emeralds represented Venus, the goddess of love and hope. Emeralds are not only a stone associated with nature, but with intuition and foresight. Legend has it that if you place an emerald under your tongue, it’ll give you the ability to see the future. Emeralds are said to protect their wearers against evil and can cure disease.
Garnet Gemstone Meaning
Garnets have a mythological association with the goddess Persephone. The ancient Greeks believed these gems came from the pomegranates she ate in the underworld. In ancient Egypt, the pharaohs wore red garnet necklaces and in ancient Rome, rings with carved garnets were used to stamp the wax on important documents. Garnets are also one of the oldest stones to be used for spiritual protection throughout history.
Browse our collection of garnet birthstone jewelry here.
Morganite Gemstone Meaning
Morganite was first discovered in the early 1900s by gemologist George Kunz, who proposed that the stone should be named after American financier and gem enthusiast J.P. Morgan. This pink variety of beryl is believed to bring positive healing energy, inner peace joy, confidence, and unconditional love. It is also supposed to soothe anxiety and stress.
Browse our collection of morganite jewelry here.
Opal Gemstone Meaning
Because opals can exhibit so many colors within a single stone, they have long been thought to possess supernatural powers. In ancient Rome, this gem symbolized love and hope. The ancient Greeks believed opals gave their owners the gift of prophecy and guarded them against disease. For centuries, Europeans have considered the gem a symbol of hope, purity, and truth.
Browse our collection of opal birthstone jewelry here.
Pearl Gemstone Meaning
The oldest precious gem, pearls, are known for their beautiful shimmering color and delicate beauty. In ancient China, pearls were believed to protect against fire, and in Europe, they were associated with innocence and purity. Pearls maintain their association with innocence today and are popular as bridal jewelry.
Browse our collection of pearl birthstone jewelry here.
Peridot Gemstone Meaning
Peridots have long been associated with Ancient Egypt. The Egyptians thought peridot protected against nightmares and brought the wearer confidence, good luck, and health. It’s believed that some of Cleopatra’s famous emeralds were actually peridots.
Browse our collection of peridot birthstone jewelry here.
Ruby Gemstone Meaning
Ancient Hindus believed those who offered rubies to the god Krishna would be emperors in their future life. People in India and Burma have also believed that rubies provided safety and peace, and medieval Europeans thought these gems guaranteed health, wealth, wisdom, and success in love.
Sapphire Gemstone Meaning
Sapphires are a very lucky stone, believed to attract an abundance of blessings upon their wearers. This gem is said to promote health and spiritual clarity and guard one’s innocence. Sapphires are closely associated with royalty and have been a popular choice as engagement ring center stones. Princess Diana’s blue sapphire engagement ring is still the most recognizable engagement ring to this day.
Topaz Gemstone Meaning
Topaz symbolizes love and fidelity and is said to give strength and increase cognitive abilities for those who wear it. While topaz comes in various colors, most popularly blue topaz, it’s orange topaz that has been associated with fire in many cultures and eras. Like citrine and yellow sapphire, topaz is thought to bring good fortune and confidence.
Browse our collection of topaz birthstone jewelry here.
We hope you found this helpful! If you’re looking to know more about gemstones, or you’re curious to learn more about a particular birthstone, check out our related blogs below!
January Garnets * February Amethysts * March Aquamarines * April Diamonds * May Emeralds * June Pearls * July Rubies * August Peridots * September Sapphires * October Opal * November Citrines * December Blue Topaz
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