Garnet can be found in many colors from deep red or purple, to bright greens and pinks. Red garnet, which forms in metamorphic rock, is one of the most common gems and is found on every continent. Even though all garnets have the same crystal structure, the chemistry and conditions where the garnet forms can result in different colors, some more rare than others.

Pharaohs from Egypt wore red garnet necklaces and in ancient Rome signet rings with carved garnets were worn. In Roman times, red garnets were among the most widely traded gems and during the Middle Ages, red garnet was favored by clergy and nobility. Today, the garnet is the birthstone for the month of January and the gem of the 2nd anniversary.

Learn more about the Garnet family of gems from the GIA gem encyclopedia.

Amethyst is the birthstone for February and helps celebrate the 6th, 9th, and 33rd anniversaries. Amethyst’s color can range from a light lilac to a deep, intense royal purple.

Due to its wine-like color, early Greek legends associated amethyst with Bacchus, the god of wine, and because of this it was believed that wearing amethyst prevented drunkenness. Other legends reflected beliefs that amethyst kept its wearer clear-headed and quick-witted in battle. Fine amethysts have been set in religious jewelry and royal crown jewels for ages and it was once considered to be equal in value to ruby, emerald, and sapphire.

Learn more about Amethyst from the GIA gem encyclopedia.

Aquamarine, the birthstone for March and the gemstone of the 19th wedding anniversary, gets its name from two Latin words: aqua, meaning “water”, and marina, meaning “of the sea”. Aquamarine is the green-blue to blue variety of the mineral beryl and is in the same family as the emerald and morganite. The aquamarine is usually a light pastel greenish blue in color. Aquamarine grows in beautiful six-sided prismatic crystals that can grow to more than a foot long! Because the aquamarines crystals grow to be large in size, relatively clean, and well-formed, it is a particularly valuable stone to collectors of mineral specimens.

It has been said that the wearer of an aquamarine is protected against foes in battle, and it can also make the wearer unconquerable and amiable as well as quicken their intellect. It has also thought that the aquamarine enhance the happiness of marriages.

Learn more about Aquamarine from the GIA gem encyclopedia.

Diamonds have been appreciated for centuries, but there was not much knowledge about them before the 20th century. Since then, diamond knowledge has grown exponentially, making it easier to predict locations for new diamond discoveries! Diamonds form naturally under high temperature and pressure conditions that exist only about 100 miles beneath the earth’s surface.

Diamond is recognized as the birthstone for April and is also the gem for the 60th and 75th wedding anniversaries. Diamonds have a long history as objects of desire. The world’s love of diamonds had its start in India, where diamonds were gathered from the country’s rivers. Some historians estimate that India was trading diamonds as early as the fourth century. In more recent times, diamonds have become popular in rings for wedding engagements.

Learn more about Diamonds from the GIA gem encyclopedia.

Emerald, the most famous member of the beryl family, is the birthstone for the month of May and is also the gemstone for the 20th and 35th wedding anniversaries. It is considered to be one of the "big three" gems. Large fine quality emeralds are very rare, and most emerald is very included. The unusual formations pictured in the image above are called "trapiche emeralds", named for the columbian wheel used to grind sugar cane. The trapiches have natural carbon inclusions, which form a spoke-like pattern. The first known Emerald mines were in Egypt, and it is said that that Cleopatra had a passion for them. Today, Brazil is one of the most consistent suppliers of Emerald.

Emerald has always been associated with lush green landscapes like that of Ireland, nicknamed the Emerald Isle. Legends surrounding the emerald range from allowing the wearer with the ability to foresee the future, protect themselves from evil spirits and has also been believed to cure disease.

Learn more about Emeralds from the GIA gem encyclopedia.

Alexandrite is the color-change variety of the mineral chrysoberyl. The gem is bluish green in daylight and purplish red under incandescent light. The best and most valuable examples have exceptional color change. Alexandrite is also the gem for the 55th wedding anniversary. Today, most alexandrite comes from Sri Lanka, East Africa and Brazil however the first deposits were discovered in the Ural Mountains.

Pearl, another birthstone for the month of June which also helps celebrate the 3rd anniversary, has been loved for centuries. In fact, the first culturing occurred hundreds of years ago in China! The pearl has been a symbol of wealth and status and has often been associated with the moon because of its color and shape. Pearl occurs in a wide variety of colors, and can also be dyed. The most familiar are white and cream, but the palette of colors extends to every hue. Pearls form in the body of certain mollusks, and can be of varying shapes and sizes.

Moonstone is a fedspar, prized for the phenomenon of light billowing across the gem, called adularescence. Moonstone's glow is caused by light scattering between microscopic layers of feldspar, which are similar to the size of a wavelenght of light. t was once called “adularia after the Swiss mountain that was one of the first sources of the gemstone. According to mythology, moonstone is made of moonbeams and is said to bring good luck.

Learn more about Alexandrite, Pearl and Moonstone from the GIA gem encyclopedia.

The name “ruby” comes from the Latin word “ruber”, meaning “red.” The most renowned rubies like those from Myanmar, the Himalayas, and Vietnam form in marble which gives them a vibrant red glow. In other locations rubies can be found in basalt rock, however these rubies often have a darker and less intense color.

Early cultures treasured rubies believing that they held the power of life. Roman scholars included rubies in their Natural History writings and Ancient Hindus believed that those who possessed a ruby were blessed with safety. Rubies are also mentioned four times in the Bible and were called the most precious of the 12 stones. Ruby retained its importance and became one of the most sought-after gems of European royalty. The ruby helps celebrate July birthdays and is the perfect gift for the 15th and 40th anniversaries.

Learn more about Ruby from the GIA Gem encyclopedia.

Best known for its green color, the Peridot is one of the birthstones for August and celebrates the 16th anniversary. The word peridot comes from the Arabic word “faridat” meaning “gem.” The peridot is found in the United States, China, and Vietnam and is formed deep inside the Earth then delivered to the surface by volcanoes; some peridot has even come to earth in meteorites although this is very rare.

The Spinel is the newest birthstone of August, and comes in many colors to suit every need; from orange to intense red, vibrant pink, and all shades of purple and blue. The spinel is a good candidate for the title of “History’s Most Underappreciated Gem” because spinel has long been mistaken for other gemstones! Although often confused with other gemstones, the classification of the spinel helped shape the foundation of gemology, cementing the spinel in history forever.

Learn more about Peridot and Spinel from the GIA gem encyclopedia.

Sapphire, the birthstone for September and the gem of the 5th and 45th anniversaries has long represented nobility, truth, and faithfulness. Throughout history, the sapphire has always been associated with the color blue. The sapphire has decorated the robes of royalty for centuries and has been a color standard for another blue gems. Royalty from Greece and Rome, clergy members, and kings and queens from the Middle Ages all wore the sapphire. In more recent times, the connection between royalty and sapphires continued when Prince Charles gave a blue sapphire engagement ring to Lady Diana.

In the 1990s, discoveries in East Africa and Madagascar brought fancy sapphires to recognition. The colors attracted jewelry designers who wanted to move away from the traditional blue hue. Consumers who like the romance associated with the gem but want something out of the ordinary now have a rainbow of colors to choose from.

Learn more about Sapphire from the GIA gem encyclopedia.

Opal is known for its display of flashing color known as “play-of-color”. The opal comes in many different varieties, but experts have divided gem opals into five main types: Black, Fire, Boulder, White, and Crystal. The opal is the original birthstone of October and is a great gift for a 12th or 34th anniversary. Diverse lore surrounds the opal; arabic legends say that the opal falls from the heavens in flashes of lightening, while Ancient Greeks believed that opals guarded the wearer from disease.

Tourmaline has one of the widest color ranges of any gem, occurring in various shades of virtually every hue. People have used tourmaline for centuries, but it was often identified as some other stone based on its coloring. Very few gems match tourmaline’s dazzling range of colors and lucky for October babies, the beautiful pink tourmaline is also one of their birthstones.

Learn more about Sapphire from the GIA gem encyclopedia.

Topaz has a wide color range that includes various tones and saturations of blue, green, yellow, orange, red, pink, and purple making the birthstone for November diverse in color. Scholars trace the origin of the name back to Sanskrit and the word “topas” or “tapaz”, meaning “fire.” The ancient Greeks believed that topaz gave them strength while in Europe, people thought that topaz could break magic spells.

Citrine is also one of the birthstones for the month of November and it is also the gem that commemorates the 13th anniversary. Before the days of modern gemology, Citrine was often mistaken for topaz because of their similar coloring. Citrine is actually a rare variety of quartz that comes in a variety of hues between pale yellow to brownish orange.

Learn more about Sapphire from the GIA gem encyclopedia.

Blue zircon, one of the birthstones for December, proudly sparkles due to its double refractivity. The stones name comes from the Arabic work “zarkun” meaning “vermilion”. In the middle Ages, the gem was thought to induce sleep, drive away evil spirits and promote riches.

Turquoise, another birthstone for December, is only found a few places on Earth and is identified by its sky blue color. The gem’s name comes from the French expression “pierre tourques”, or “Turkish stone.” Turquoise is the national gem of Tibet, and has long been considered to guarantee health and fortune.

Tanzanite is the third birthstone for the month of December, and is a relatively new colored stone. Tanzanite is only mined in Tanzania, where the gem gets its name. Tiffany & Company played a large part in helping the Tanzanite make a name for itself by making a deal to become its main distributor.

Learn more about Sapphire from the GIA gem encyclopedia.