Leo is the strongest sign of the zodiac. The Leo is a born leader, strong-willed, optimistic and charismatic. This huge, fiery personality, however, may be quite difficult to control, and his fearsome temper can get in the way of his own success. To aid him in his lofty endeavors, choices of Leo birthstone have been identified that nurture the Leonine fire, or keep it in check.
You shall make a breastplate of judgment. … You shall set in it settings of stones in four rows: a row of sard, peridot and emerald shall be the first row; and the second row a garnet, a lapis lazuli and an onyx …
— Exodus 28:15-18
A banded variety of chalcedony, onyx is distinguished from agate with the former’s parallel bands. Though occurring in black and white, the most popular of onyx today is entirely black.
The foundations of the city’s wall were adorned with all kinds of precious stones. The first foundation was jasper; the second, lapis lazuli … the fifth, sardonyx …
— Revelation 21:19-20
Sardonyx is the Leo birthstone from the Book of Revelation. The 5th Foundation Stone in Revelation, sardonyx is accordingly the birthstone of the 5th sign of the zodiac.
Written more than 500 years after the Book of Exodus,3 Revelation designates sardonyx as Foundation Stone instead of the onyx from Exodus. Sardonyx is the red variety of onyx. Indeed, of the different varieties of onyx known to the ancients, the Book of Revelation endorses sardonyx in particular.
The ancients favored sardonyx over black onyx, not least because they feared the powers of the latter. They recommended that any onyx jewelry always comes with sard, the red chalcedony.4 As the name suggests, sardonyx has both sard and onyx in the gem, hence the name sard-onyx. The banded red gem is indeed a convenient combination that harmoniously mixes the powers of both onyx and sard.
From an ancient list attributed to the Chaldeans of Mesopotamia, diamond is the gemstone associated with the Sun.5 The Sun’s rulership over the zodiac sign makes diamond the planetary Leo birthstone.
Diamond is an exquisitely brilliant gem. While this rock has been found in a wide range of colors, the most popular variety is the white diamond. See —
Carnelian is another gemstone the Chaldeans assigned to the Sun,6 and is accordingly a planetary Leo birthstone.
Carnelian is the red or orange variety of chalcedony. Leo’s lucky color comprises brilliant shades from yellow to orange, and carnelian’s bright orangey hue is indeed reminiscent of the fiery Lion.
Also known as jacinth, hyacinth is a gemstone associated with the Sun by the advent of the 16th century.6 This makes jacinth a planetary Leo birthstone.
A variety of zircon occurring in yellow, orange and red, hyacinth shines with the warm, fiery colors associated with Leo.
Since the 1500s, chrysoberyl is a gemstone assigned to Leo’s ruling planet, the Sun,6 and is hence a planetary Leo birthstone.
Chrysoberyl is a bright yellow gem most popular in its chatoyant variety called cymophane or cat’s eye. Cymophane exhibits an iridescent luster reminiscent of the eye of the cat, hence the name cat’s eye. Cat’s eye makes a visually fitting birthstone for the regal Lion.
Ruby is the gemstone associated with the Sun in India,7 and is therefore the Leo birthstone in Hindu astrology.
Bright red in color, ruby comes from the mineral corundum, which in another color would be called sapphire.
Besides ruby, red spinel is also associated with the Sun in Hindu astrology,6 and is therefore a planetary Leo stone. In fact, the Indians regarded spinel as a variety of ruby, as did Europe, especially in reference to the balas ruby. Many named rubies in history were in fact spinel.
Leo Birthstone Color
People love the mighty Leo, and astrology offers him a beautiful variety of birthstones to choose from. Two of them, diamond and ruby, were both hailed the “king of gems,” regal as the zodiac sign itself.
Like Leo’s element and ruling planet, ruby and most other choices of Leo gemstone are warm of color. Onyx, on the other hand, wraps its black bands around the raging Lion, thus reigning in his fiery personality to keep him effectively powerful. Sardonyx stands in the middle: banded as onyx and fiery as Leo’s zodiac color.
Know Their Magic
Each birthstone for Leo is attributed with magical properties. Know the magical powers of Leo stone when you read my book Power Birthstone.
See Leo in Action
Curious about Leo and other zodiac signs? An enjoyable way to understand the different signs is to see how they behave, interact or fight in a narrative. Deomar Pandan has recently started a novel whose character profiles are based on astrology’s zodiac signs. Read his fantasy novel for FREE: Cosmons and the Tree of Immortality.
“Exodus 28.” The Bible. Bible Hub, biblehub.com/interlinear/exodus/28.htm. Accessed 28 July 2019.
“Exodus 28.” Septuagint. Blue Letter Bible, www.blueletterbible.org/lxx/exo/28/1/s_78001. Accessed 28 July 2019.
“Exodus.” 20 July 1998. Encyclopaedia Britannica, 1 August 2019, www.britannica.com/event/Exodus-Old-Testament.
Knuth, Bruce G. “Onyx.” Gems in Myth, Legend and Lore. Revised ed. Parachute: Jewelers Press, 2007. pp. 151-152.
Rabelais, M. Fran. “Book V: His Visit to the Oracle.” The Heroic Deeds and Sayings of the Good Pantagruel. Trans. Sir Thomas Urquhart and Peter Motteux. London: Gibbings and Company Limited, 1901. pp. 184-185.
Knuth, Bruce G. “Birthstones.” Gems in Myth, Legend and Lore. Revised ed. Parachute: Jewelers Press, 2007. pp. 293-327.
Sastri, V. Subramanya. “Adhyaya 2 – Sloka 21.” Jataka Parijata. Bangalore: V. B. Soobiah & Sons, 1932.
Discover More of Leo
Learn more about the zodiac sign, its symbol, element and other information.