Birthstones Part 1

Birthstones Part 1

Written by Alice Rochester on 12 July 2013

With my own pregnancy over half way through and working as a Senior Jewellery Designer at Harriet Kelsall Jewellery Design, I find I am often getting asked about what I am going to do about an eternity ring. At the moment I'm still not entirely sure(!) but I have got a few ideas which will incorporate our new addition's birthstone, as well as mine & my husband's. I thought I'd share a little information about these stones just in case there are any other mums to be out there who might like a few ideas...

Gemstones have been used for many hundreds of years to represent different things, including the months in which a person is born. Gems also have their own set of beliefs attached to them, and are thought to offer their protection to the wearer more strongly when the gem is associated closely with that person. I'll go through each of the months here and tell you about the gemstones, how they can be used in jewellery, and what people think about the stone's properties.

January- garnet
Garnet is generally thought of as a red or orange stone but it can come in other colours too. The red tones vary between pinky shades, through russet to vivid orange, so they give you a lot of scope to work with whichever colour you prefer! I particularly love the russet colours when used with rose gold. At around 7-7.5 on Moh's hardness scale, it's not the hardest wearing gem and as such tends to be a bit better when cut in rounder shapes. Cabochon cut stones will take knocks a little better than faceted ones, however if you like a bit of sparkle then don't be too put off. Keeping gemstones set at the front of an eternity ring (rather than scattering them round the back too) will help keep them a little safer.

The gem quality green garnet is tsavorite, and whilst a very pretty, often quite bright green, it is not quite as hard wearing as red versions of the stone. We don't recommend using tsavorite in cuts with corners like princess or marquise cuts as these make the stone rather vulnerable, but in jewellery you can do all sorts of things with a round stone that can give the impression of a different shape!

Among other things, garnet symbolises truth and constancy. It is also reputed to repel flying insects; protect against lightning; ward off inflammatory diseases; and help the wearer to be firm and steadfast. People say it changes colour if danger approaches and that it helps perpetuate friendships.

February- amethyst
Amethyst is a purple gem which comes in shades from the palest lilac right through to the deepest royal purple. It measures 7 on Moh's scale, so like garnet it benefits being set towards the front of a ring, but people have used in jewellery for a very long time and it is still very much sought-after. In ancient times, dark purple colours were particularly difficult to create in dyes, and as such only the richest people could wear them. The gorgeous purple tones of amethyst therefore came to symbolise royalty, as well as piety since bishops & priests wore it too! It was the original gemstone to be used in engagement rings.

The name amethyst comes from the Greek word 'amethystos' which means 'not drunk'. There is a story involving the Greek god Bacchus pouring his wine over a stone maiden, turning the stone into amethyst. Because of this, it has been used in talismans against drunkenness as a result of both alcohol and the effects of passionate love! It is also thought to bring peace, calm, spiritual growth and stability, and help you connect to your inner self.

March- aquamarine
Aquamarine is a beautiful gemstone which belongs to the same family as emerald. It's colour ranges from almost clear through to a greeny blue, all the while retaining its gentle sparkle like sunlight on water. In fact the name actually translates to 'sea water'. We have often used it in jewellery inspired by the ocean, and I particularly love it when it is set in white metal- either natural 9ct white gold to contrast the creamy white with the blues, or platinum or palladium for a cool, crisp look. It also combines beautifully with diamonds!

Aquamarine is seen as a calming stone that will also aid understanding and promote happiness.

April- diamond
Many women love the bright white sparkle associated with diamonds, so if you, your partner or your new baby have an April birthday it's a great excuse to use them in an eternity ring! Diamonds are the hardest of the gemstones, measuring a full 10 on Moh's scale, which also makes them a more practical option. They are better than other gems in terms of wearability if you want stones going all the way round your ring, and they combine beautifully with other stones too.

If you want diamond sparkle but you want colour, we often use heat treated coloured diamonds in eternity rings. They are a more expensive option but they are very pretty, and come in greens and blues as well as yellows, orange and brown. (Natural brown diamonds are my personal favourites!) Pink diamonds are less common as the treatment process is less predictable- they occasionally occur when trying to treat a diamond to make it green!

Diamond's hardness and durability make it a symbol or eternal love... And it was believed that Cupid's arrow was tipped with them! The Greeks believed that they were tears if the gods, whilst others thought they were moon dust or splinters of stars. They are also supposed to bring courage, victory and luck... Of course, according to Marilyn Monroe they are also 'a girl's best friend'.

Next time… May to August…