Fall Birthstones by Month: A Guide to Meanings and Traditions

Pair of Gold and Citrine Leaf-Shaped Earrings. Sold for $1,750 via Doyle New York (June 2018).

Associating gemstones with the months of the year has long been a tradition in both Judeo-Christian and Eastern religions. According to George Frederick Kunz (1856-1932), a mineralogist who rose to prominence as a vice president at Tiffany & Co., birthstones are connected to the twelve stones on the High Priest of the Israelites’ breastplate as well as the twelve signs of the Zodiac.

In the Middle Ages, gemstones were ascribed special powers and associated with desirable (or, sometimes, undesirable) traits. Precious stones were worn by members of the clergy and painted into illuminated manuscripts.

Abstract Citrine Crystal Freeform Ring, c. 1960 (Raritet Antique Gallery, LLC).Kunz wrote in his text “The Curious Lore of Precious Stones” that the tradition of wearing a stone associated with your month of birth likely began in Poland in the eighteenth century, but the custom may have originated from other European countries in the centuries preceding.

Today’s modern birthstone assignments are likely not the same ones chosen in ancient times, but they are still associated with certain characteristics and properties, like healing or protection. With autumn months upon us, our editors took a closer look at fall birthstones to better understand their associated properties and histories.

September Birthstone: Sapphire

As the coveted September birthstone, sapphires come in many colors, but royal blue is the shade most commonly associated with this gemstone. The precious stone was used by ancient Greeks, Buddhists, and Hindus during worship to denote wisdom and enlightenment. Beginning in the Middle Ages, sapphires became popular among royalty due to their “celestial” shade of blue.

Mid-20th Century Blue Sapphire and Diamond Earrings (Macklowe Antique & Estate Jewelry).

In addition to being worn as a birthstone, sapphires have also become popular as diamond stone alternatives for engagement rings, thanks to the British royal family. Princess Diana wore a sapphire engagement ring, which was later presented by her son Prince William to Kate Middleton in honor of their engagement.

Sapphire Meaning

The sapphire stone is most commonly associated with the following traits:

  • Purity
  • Wisdom
  • Loyalty
  • Nobility
  • Focus

October Birthstone: Opal and Tourmaline

What is the birthstone for October? Doubly as fortunate as September, this crisp fall month boasts not just one, but two gemstones as its feature birthstone. As October birthstones, both tourmaline and opal are equally associated with the month, and are found in a variety of colors. In fact, a tourmaline stone is often confused with other gems because it can be found in an array of hues. Different colors of opal are defined by the shade behind its many facets of shimmer.

Another similarity between the stones is that both have been associated with protective powers. It was believed in the Middle Ages that opals could guard against evil, and ancient magicians used black tourmaline to protect against negative energy.

Opal Meaning

The opal stone is most often associated with faithfulness and confidence.

Tourmaline Meaning

The tourmaline stone is commonly associated with protection.

November Birthstone: Topaz and Citrine

Topaz, the November birthstone, has significance across European and Non-Western cultures, including Hinduism and African shamanism. The topaz stone symbolizes love and affection and is available in several colors, including shades of blue and yellow, but the name is often attributed to other yellow stones from different mineral species.

Due to its color, citrine, November’s other birthstone, is sometimes confused with topaz even though they are derived from different materials. The citrine stone was also associated with many of the same traits of ancient cultures in Egypt, Greece, and Rome.

Topaz Meaning 

The topaz stone is most commonly associated with the following traits: 

  • Healing 
  • Strength
  • Calm
  • Prosperity

Citrine Meaning

The citrine stone is most commonly associated with the following traits: 

  • Success
  • Abundance
  • Healing
  • Calm

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