FEBRUARY BIRTHSTONE HISTORY: Most Cherished of Birthstones

February birthstone is the only month stone  that is consistent throughout history. From Europe to India, ancient cultures recognized the same birthstone for February.1

Amethyst

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 twelfth, amethyst.

— Revelation 21:19-20

Amethyst is the February birthstone from the Bible. The Book of Exodus speaks of amethyst, ahlamah in Hebrew, as one of the gemstones on Aaron’s breastplate,2 while Revelation describes the same gem as the 12th foundation stone of the New Jerusalem. Amethyst accordingly became the gemstone of the 12th sign of the zodiac, as well as the partially concurrent month of February.

Of the 12 original birthstones from Exodus, amethyst is the only gem to keep its month consistently throughout history.

Amethyst is quartz’ purple or violet variety, whose beauty is so deeply revered throughout history. While the February gemstone can be very affordable these days, amethyst used to be extremely expensive. Only after the discovery of Brazil’s huge deposit of amethyst geodes in the 1800s3 did the birthstone for February go from precious stone to semiprecious. Though not as valuable as it used to be, amethyst remains most popular among gems.

From Ivtorov, CC BY-SA 4.0

Hyacinth

From the 1400s to early 1900s, hyacinth came off January in Europe to grace the succeeding month with its sunny brilliance. As the 11th Foundation Stone of Revelation, hyacinth was meant for the 11th sign of the zodiac, Aquarius, and the partially concurrent month of January. Failing to rival garnet from Aaron’s breastplate, hyacinth fell back a month and became an alternate birthstone for February. This incursion into the neighboring month likewise proved futile when America in 1912 gave the entire month to the native February birthstone, amethyst.1

Also called jacinth, hyacinth is a variety of zircon ranging in color from yellow to red.

From Mauro Cateb, CC BY-SA 4.0

Pearl

From the 1400s to early 1900s, pearl was an alternate February birthstone in Europe. Imported from India, pearl’s popularity propelled this biologically produced gemstone into the list of month stones. Pearl initially came in as the Indian and Arabian birthstone for June. While Europeans loved pearl, its placement in June failed to get their nod. Apparently out of indecision, Europe assigned pearl to 2 months: February and November. Both designations were reversed in 1912, when America placed pearl back in June for good.1

Chevron Amethyst Bracelet

Beloved February Birthstone

Of the original 12 gems from Aaron’s breastplate, the birthstone of February is the only month stone thoroughly consistent through the ages. Where other birthstones fell off their ranks, amethyst held its place for over 2500 years, and remains the February gemstone to this day. February birthstone color is purple through and through.

Know Their Magic

Each birthstone for February is attributed with magical properties. Know the magical powers of February stone, as well as those of your zodiac birthstones, when you read my book Power Birthstone.

Learn the magic of February Birthstone

Footnotes

1

Knuth, Bruce G. “Birthstones.” Gems in Myth, Legend and Lore. Revised ed. Parachute: Jewelers Press, 2007. pp. 293-327.

2

“Exodus 28.” The Bible. Bible Hub, biblehub.com/interlinear/exodus/28.htm. Accessed 28 July 2019.

3

Epstein, David Stanley. “Amethyst Mining in Brazil.” 1989.

Published October 15, 2019