By Yaĝé Enigmus
In addition to the birthstones that most people in western markets are familiar with, birthstone lists also exist based on the signs of the Greek and Chinese zodiacs. These lists allow one to select birthstones based on the astrology of the intended owner. When choosing birthstones as gifts or for gemstone jewellery, zodiac signs are a great avenue for personalizing the meaning behind a stone and sending a message with added nuance.
Titus Flavius Josephus, a 1st century historian living in Jerusalem, was the first to draw a connection between the twelve stones in the high priest’s breastplate of ancient Jerusalem, the twelve months of the year, and the twelve signs of the Greco-Roman zodiac. After Josephus’ work had been adapted into birthstone lists for the twelve months, a list pairing stones with the zodiac was eventually developed. Whether or not this list was important to ancient Mediterraneans is unclear, as no documentation exists detailing how individuals used them before the 18th century, when the practice of wearing a single stone based on one’s birth month became more commonplace.
Below is a version of the birthstone list for the Greco-Roman zodiac based on contemporary understanding:
|Greek Zodiac Sign||Birthstone|
|Aquarius (Jan. 21 - Feb 18)||Carbuncle (Red Garnet)|
|Pisces (Feb. 19 - Mar. 20)||Amethyst|
|Aries (Mar. 21 - Apr. 20)||Bloodstone|
|Taurus (Apr. 21 - May 21)||Sapphire|
|Gemini (May 22 - Jun. 21)||Agate/Chalcedony|
|Cancer (Jun. 22 - Jul. 22)||Emerald|
|Leo (Jul. 23 - Aug. 22)||Onyx|
|Virgo (Aug. 23 - Sep. 23)||Carnelian|
|Libra (Sep. 24 - Oct. 23)||Chrysolite (Peridot)|
|Scorpio (Oct. 24 - Nov. 21)||Beryl/Aquamarine|
|Sagittarius (Nov. 22 - Dec. 21)||Topaz|
|Capricorn (Dec. 22 - Jan. 20)||Ruby|
Click here to see our breathtaking selection of sapphires, the birthstone associated with Taurus in the Greek zodiac!
Click here to see our vibrant collection of amethyst gemstones – the Pisces birthstone in the Greek zodiac!
Within Chinese astrology, zodiac signs are based on the year in which one was born rather than their birth month. According to Chinese beliefs, the gods that created earth and gave power to the signs of the zodiac left certain materials behind in the natural world that were imbued with special properties linking them to one of the signs. These stones were meant to help individuals of a given sign tap into the powers their sign represented and allow them to connect more deeply with the spiritual world.
Below is the birthstone list for the Chinese zodiac with recent years for each sign:
|Rat||1924, 1936, 1948, 1960, 1972, 1984, 1996, 2008, 2020||Garnet|
|Ox||1925, 1937, 1949, 1961, 1973, 1985, 1997, 2009, 2021||Aquamarine|
|Tiger||1926, 1938, 1950, 1962, 1974, 1986, 1998, 2010, 2022||Sapphire|
|Rabbit||1927, 1939, 1951, 1963, 1975, 1987, 1999, 2011, 2023||Pearl|
|Dragon||1928, 1940, 1952, 1964, 1976, 1988, 2000, 2012, 2024||Amethyst|
|Snake||1929, 1941, 1953, 1965, 1977, 1989, 2001, 2013, 2025||Opal|
|Horse||1930, 1942, 1954, 1966, 1978, 1990, 2002, 2014, 2026||Topaz|
|Goat||1931, 1943, 1955, 1967, 1979, 1991, 2003, 2015, 2027||Emerald|
|Monkey||1932, 1944, 1956, 1968, 1980, 1992, 2004, 2016, 2028||Peridot|
|Rooster||1933, 1945, 1957, 1969, 1981, 1993, 2005, 2017, 2029||Citrine|
|Dog||1934, 1946, 1958, 1970, 1982, 1994, 2006, 2018, 2030||Diamond|
|Pig||1935, 1947, 1959, 1971, 1983, 1995, 2007, 2019, 2031||Ruby|
Click here to see citrine, the Rooster birthstone in the Chinese zodiac!
Click here to see our shimmering aquamarine – the Ox birthstone in the Chinese zodiac!
Along with birthstones for the signs of the Chinese zodiac, other birthstone traditions exist in eastern cultures that provide an even greater selection of stones when choosing a birthstone for bespoke jewellery or to give as a gift. Learn about other eastern birthstone lists in the next part of the birthstone series.