Saturday Stone Chat: birthstones

When I ask someone if they like their birthstone, at least half the time the answer is "no" - usually because they find the traditional birthstone uninteresting. My birthday is in May, and for a very long time I really didn't like emeralds - the ones I could afford were usually murky or obviously enhanced, and the ones I couldn't afford were just... bland.

Many years ago, when I was just starting to work with gemstones, I went to an exhibit of early American jewelry, and I noticed something very interesting: most of the gemstones were extremely low quality by today's standards, with inclusions or flaws that you'd never see in fine jewelry today. They looked remarkably like the stones I used, in fact - which by modern standards are considered very poor quality.

I've always gravitated towards these so-called flawed stones because I find them interesting - I love the inclusions and refractions and other imperfections that add depth and rainbows and shimmer and color to the stones.

For instance, March's traditional birthstone is aquamarine, which is a pretty shade of blue, but usually not particularly remarkable: 

...and here's a very "flawed" aquamarine that has a wide range of depth and color, and even a bit of chatoyancy

 

Pretty big difference, right? But they're the same stone, I promise - and that's one of the things I love about working with "flawed" stones, because each one has its own very distinct personality. 

 

When I do commissions involving birthstones, I often end up using alternate birthstones, either to keep the cost reasonable (diamonds, I'm looking at you) or for durability (opals are beautiful but fragile) or to avoid jarring color contrasts. Sometimes I'll use a combination the traditional and alternate stones, if I'm making a piece incorporating birthstones of multiple people - last year I made a pendant for someone who had three family members born in July and two in December, and I was able to use different stones for each person to honor them individually. 

If you've ever looked at your birthstone and wished you'd been born in a different month,  see if any of the alternates are more to your liking - or ask me to show you some of my "flawed" stones, because it's entirely possible there are versions of your traditional birthstone that you would like!

That was the case with me and emeralds - I eventually found two that I love, and they're both very flawed. The large pale one has several flaws that make beautiful rainbows when the light hits it just right, and the tiny dark one is almost black except when it glitters brilliantly green. They suit my personality, and they fit in perfectly with the rest of the stones on this pendant: 

 

How about you - have you found birthstone jewelry that you like, or are you still looking? Do you like your birthstone (either the traditional one or any of the alternates) or do you prefer other stones?



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