The Meaning Behind Your Zodiac Birthstone

This story was originally published on January 3, 2015.

Maybe you’ve never been particularly fond of your month’s birthstone, coveting May’s emerald or September’s sapphire instead. Then again, maybe you didn’t know zodiac signs also have their own specific gems — and you’re actually not fixed to just one stone. The Metaphysical Book of Gems And Crystals explains that some signs have upwards of four stones that exhibit this special harmony. Ahead, we're sharing 12 astrological alternatives to personalize your jewelry collection — just in time for the New Year.

To get you up to speed on each stone's history, healing properties, and symbolism, we enlisted acclaimed jewelry designers Erica Weiner, Melissa Joy Manning, and Liz Phillips, as well as gemologists Elizabeth Doyle and Florence Mégemont. We dove into the gemstone rumor mill (Did Michelangelo really use lapis lazuli to craft the Sistine Chapel? Is labradorite really the reason behind the Aurora Borealis?) to sort the myths from the realities and find out how these stones relate to your astrological sign.

As an added bonus: This jewelry crash course comes complete with the best rings, bracelets, earrings, and necklaces for every stone. Consider your next purchase written in the stars.
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The Sign: Aries
The Stone: Carnelian
Alternate Stones: Red jasper and ruby

Carnelian is a brilliant, orange-red stone. It's a variety of chalcedony, which is a mineral in the quartz family. It can vary from pinkish-orange to rusty brown — although the former is by far the most popular.

According to Florence Mégemont in The Metaphysical Book Of Gems And Crystals, "There is a harmony and complexity between this stone and the sign of Aries. A stone of enterprise, a carnelian will inspire [but] can also enhance [Aries'] quick-tempered tendencies."

Carnelian is also known as "the singer's stone" because it is thought to help clarify the voice. And, if you're focusing solely on aesthetics, its warm coloring is the perfect accent to an all-black outfit.
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Even a small touch of the gem is supposedly enough to tap into its unique, therapeutic qualities.

Monica Vinader Siren Small Stacking Ring, $105, available at Monica Vinader.
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Carnelian and yellow gold make a perfect pair.

Melissa Joy Manning Carnelian Single Drop Earrings, $225, available at YLang23.
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The Sign: Taurus
The Stone: Lapis lazuli
Alternate Stones: Rose quartz, emerald, and blue sapphire

"Lapis has been used for centuries in jewelry and decorative objects and is known and loved for its vibrant, blue color," says designer Liz Phillips. In fact, many Renaissance paintings get their deep, blue hues from the stone. Until synthetic pigments were developed, lapis was ground, mixed with oil, and used as ultramarine paint — by the likes of Michelangelo, no less. "A very expensive color, it annoyed the patrons...who believed the stone was better used as a talisman," says Mégemont. What's more, Selin Kent adds that "ancient Egyptians used to grind lapis into a powder to create eye shadow."

"The gold inclusions in the stone were thought to resemble stars, and lapis was seen as a symbol of the night skies," says designer Melissa Joy Manning. Lapis was valuable in Greek, Roman, Egyptian, and Pre-Columbian cultures; it was thought to be a symbol of wisdom and honesty. "It was revered and often worn as a protective amulet," adds Phillips. And, for you stubborn Tauruses, Mégemont explains that lapis lazuli is thought to help develop the virtues of patience and perseverance.
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"Some believed that dreaming of lapis would foretell love that would be forever faithful," the jewelry designer continues.

Jennifer Meyer Lapis & Gold Ring, $1,050, available at Barneys New York.
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Kamsler believes that "lapis lazuli can bring matters more clearly to the mind. It is one of the most powerful stones and should be used with care."

Uribe
Skylark Gold and Rhodium-plated Lapis Lazuli Earrings, $250, available at Net-A-Porter.
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The Sign: Gemini
The Stone: Tiger's eye
Alternate Stones: Citrine, chalcedony, and golden topaz

Tiger's eye owes its name to the animal and is said to "enhance self-confidence, boldness, and sometimes pride," according to Mégemont. Other varieties of this stone include falcon’s eye, cat’s eye, and bull’s eye — the only difference being the tint. "Its color comes from trace iron deposits in the stone that have oxidized over time," says jewelry designer Erica Weiner.

These stones are thought to "help Gemini natives to see life more clearly. They will also increase their concentration and focus," claims Mégemont. Some believe tiger's eye can even fight nightmares and strengthen the heart.
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This gem gives new meaning to that training scene in Rocky.

Cornelia Webb Gold-plated Tiger's Eye Earrings, $155, available at Net-A-Porter.
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She adds that it could also help "those born under the sign of Virgo to express their feelings." What a multi-tasker, that tiger's eye.

Ettika Tiger's Eye and Gold Pendant Necklace, $120, available at Amazon.
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The Sign: Cancer
The Stone: Moonstone
Alternate Stones: Emerald, labradorite, and opal

"Moonstone is known for its beautiful, iridescent sheen, which is referred to by gemologists as 'adularescence,'" explains Phillips. This means the stone's molecular structure makes it glow from within.

"In ancient India," Phillips continues, "the stone was considered to be sacred. It was thought that wearing it would bring beautiful dreams and even clairvoyance. It is said to encourage emotional wellbeing and feelings of tenderness and is therefore thought of as a lovers' stone." Of course, there’s also the lore that moonstone might "instill the power to tell the future," adds gemologist Elizabeth Doyle. Legend has it that "in order to unlock this power, the moonstone must be placed in the mouth during a full moon."

For you Cancer-born folk who don't feel like adding stone-sucking to your full-moon agenda, this gem can also supposedly "strengthen the intuition...in regards to the destiny of [your] beloved," claims Mégemont. With this in mind, we think moonstone would make a pretty stellar engagement ring.
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"This lunar stone has a special affinity with the maternal sign of Cancer," says Mégemont.

J. Hannah
Luna Ring, $365, available at Steven Alan.
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"Moonstone is sometimes called 'selenite', which is derived from the Greek 'selene' (moon)," says Weiner.

Melissa Joy Manning
Moonstone Horseshoe Earrings, $300, available at Melissa Joy Manning.
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The Sign: Leo
The Stone: Amber
Alternate Stones: Citrine, rock crystal, diamond, and olivine

Amber isn’t technically a stone at all; it’s actually "fossilized tree resin, calcified over gazillions of years," says Weiner. As a result, its physical attributes are truly unique: "Due to its odd density, amber will actually float in saltwater, and up until the mid-Victorian era, it was known as 'seastone' due to the fact that it was found almost exclusively on Baltic beaches," the designer adds.

The Greek word for amber is elektron, meaning electricity. The substance is extremely heat-sensitive and "should have a natural warmth" to it. Since amber is often imitated, knowing this makes it fairly easy to authenticate.

"Amber is the perfect match for Leo. The stone will make it possible for Leos to balance their fiery nature with periods of quiet contemplation," Mégemont believes. Throughout history, humans have valued amber as an "energy charger" and a "symbol of longevity."
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Layer more of a statement maker with your existing gold chains.

Givenchy Vintage Amber Effect Pendant Necklace, $232, available at Farfetch.
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Add a warm, energetic touch to your casual outfits with these unique earrings.

Shoptiques Lococina Amber Earrings, $40, available at Shoptiques.
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The Sign: Virgo
The Stone: Yellow sapphire
Alternate Stones: Carnelian, jasper, and yellow agate

Sapphire is a variety of gem that occurs in all colors of the rainbow. You’re likely most familiar with its blue and red iterations — September's birthstone and July's (the ruby), respectively. For Virgos, though, we focus on yellow sapphires, which are said to "make it easier for shy Virgos to express themselves verbally," according to Mégemont. Manning acknowledges that sapphire is also regarded as "a stone of royalty and wisdom." Legends regarding sapphires are even found in the Bible.

"A signifier of wisdom and insight, this jewel became a symbol of strength and influence in the medieval world," explains Manning. "Today, it is still believed to be a potent talisman...one that brings to its wearer self-discipline." Yellow sapphire, specifically, is thought to attract wealth and to "harness creative energy and turn it into action and activation,” believes Weiner.
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Sapphires supposedly have an affinity with every zodiac sign; it just depends on their color.

Liza Belachew
Magic Window Yellow Gold and Yellow Sapphire Bracelet, $777, available at Runway2Street.
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This lone bar earring will be an edgy addition to any outfit.

Asherali Knopfer
Tsavorite And Sapphire Bar Earring, $645, available at Farfetch.
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The Sign: Libra
The Stone: Smoky Quartz
Alternate Stones: Chrysocolla and golden topaz

In astrology, smoky quartz actually has an affinity with all the signs, symbolizing "resurrection and rebirth." That said, it’s thought to be especially powerful for those born under Libra: "It can give Libra the courage to look within and heal long-buried wounds. [It] is also an aphrodisiac that will enhance the sensuality of this Venus-ruled sign," reckons Mégemont. Take that, oysters. ManiaMania’s Melanie Kamsler believes that if you sleep with this gem, "it lifts fears, stresses, anxieties, and nightmares. In their place, the gem brings emotional calmness, positive action, and the manifestation of dreams."

As for its coloring, "the origin of smoky quartz's ochre tint is kind of a mystery," says Weiner. "Some gemologists believe that it comes from long-ago exposure to radiation." Feng shui experts often recommend placing smoky quartz near the entrance to your home — to best harness its supposed protective properties.
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This stone is sometimes mistakenly referred to as "smoky topaz," according to Mégemont.
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"Smoky quartz is regarded as a grounding, anchoring stone," says Phillips. "Like all varieties of quartz it also is thought to harmonize and balance one’s environment and clear away negative energy."
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The Sign: Scorpio
The Stone: Onyx
Alternate Stones: Garnet and jet

It's often said that Scorpio is the most formidable sign in the zodiac. "Those born under this sign need stabilizing stones to balance their agitation and anger," Mégemont believes.

In Greek, onyx means "claw" or "fingernail." Legend has it, Mégemont explains, "that Cupid was in the midst of cutting Venus' nails one day as she was sleeping, and the clippings fell to the ground. The Fates immediately transformed them into stone, believing that nothing that comes from a goddess should perish."

Throughout history, the stone has received mixed reviews. While it was regarded as a "bad-luck stone" among the Chinese, ancient Persians believed onyx "helped during childbirth and protected people from the evil eye." Despite differing beliefs among cultures, it's widely used in rings and other jewelry. We can see why.
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Not your average ear bauble.

Bliss Lau Blink Earring Onyx, $250, available at Bliss Lau.
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"Inky, black onyx is almost always dyed to achieve a uniformly dark appearance — it's been done that way since the Romans first discovered how well it lent itself to carving into beads and cameos," says Weiner.

Pièce à Conviction Onyx Open Square Ring, $295, available at Nordstrom.
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The Sign: Sagittarius
The Stone: Turquoise
Alternate Stones: Amethyst, lapis lazuli, and blue sapphire

Turquoise’s earliest recorded use — most likely as a talisman or amulet — dates back to 5500 BC. "It actually got its name by mistake," Nettie Kent tells us. "Europeans thought that turquoise came from Turkey. Meanwhile, it traveled through Turkey from Persia, where it had been mined for thousands of years, and in Egypt for even longer." Kent adds that the oldest known pieces of turquoise jewelry were bracelets found on the mummified arm of an Egyptian queen.

In ancient cultures, "it was thought that the stone could predict coming misfortune...by changing color," says Phillips. "It was considered holy among ancient Aztecs and also native North American tribes, who still use the stone ceremonially." Some also believe turquoise wards off depression and encourages faithfulness and friendship.
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A pearl gets a pop of color.

Delfina Delettrez Stone-edge Piercing Earring, $1,010, available at Moda Operandi.
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This stone is thought by many cultures to represent the balance between heaven and earth.

Shashi Ava Ring, $35, available at Shopbop.
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The Sign: Capricorn
The Stone: Chalcedony
Alternate Stones: Emerald, obsidian, and onyx

Ambitious and business-savvy Capricorns could benefit from wearing chalcedony. The stone — which ranges in color from gray to milky white, pink, and light blue — supposedly "encourages reflection and meditation," claims Mégemont. "Often called the 'speaker's stone,' chalcedony will help Capricorns choose their words carefully. Capricorns should carry chalcedony in their pocket when they negotiate a business deal — or ask for a raise." Duly noted.

The stone is named after the city of Chalcedony in Bythinia, located across from Byzantium in what is now Turkey. Legend has it that that famed Roman orator Cicero used to wear one around his neck.

"Chalcedony is an incredibly positive stone," says Phillips. "It is believed to nullify hostility and frustration and improve relationships by promoting brotherhood and goodwill."
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The stone's "gentle radiance prepares us for action but also helps us hold back words we might regret," says Mégemont.

Katie Diamond Jewelry Penelope Stud Earrings, $170 $89, available at Gilt.
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The Sign: Aquarius
The Stone: Fluorite
Alternate Stones: Aquamarine, falcon’s eye, and turquoise

Fluorite is named after the chemical element it contains, fluorine. The mineral occurs in a wide variety of colors — purple or green, for starters — and "gets its name from the Latin fluere ('to flow') because of its low melting point," says Weiner. Due to its malleability, it’s been "carved into cameos and other decorative objects since the Roman era."

"This 'stone of the genius' has a particular affinity with the innovative sign of Aquarius," suggests Mégemont. "Its radiance is conducive to scientific research and technology — fields where Aquarians shine." Not only could fluorite help you think more creatively; its brilliant coloring makes it a perfect home accent, too.
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Get in on the choker trend while sporting your special stone.

Frasier Sterling Dazed and Confused Choker, $66, available at Revolve.
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As for Pisces: "Purple fluorite is particularly favorable," says Mégemont. "Its earthy stability will help them complete their projects."

Dorus Mhor
Purple Flourite Short Silver Secant Pendant, $63, available at Wolf & Badger.
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The Sign: Pisces
The Stone: Labradorite
Alternate Stones: Amethyst, coral, and olivine

Labradorite is a grayish stone that "only reveals its sparkling color when it’s examined closely," observes Mégemont. "In the same way, people often overlook quiet, unassuming Pisces. Once we look beyond the surface, we see the sparkling qualities of those born under this sign."

The gem "takes its name from eastern Canada’s Labrador Peninsula, where deposits were first discovered by Europeans in the late 18th century," says Phillips. Though the stone itself is not rare, labradorite "requires a skilled lapidary to extract the full potential of its all-encompassing, unpredictable color and sheen," says Weiner.

"According to Inuit legend, the Northern Lights were at one time trapped in rocks along the coast," continues Phillips. The story tells that "a wandering Inuit warrior came upon the glowing stones and struck them with his spear, releasing the iridescent colors into the night sky — creating the Aurora Borealis." So, perhaps this lesser-known stone is no small potato.
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Each labradorite stone has its own personality.

Katie Diamond
Bea Ring, $162, available at Steven Alan.
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Labradorite is considered by many to be the most powerful of the "protector" minerals.

Anthropologie Labradorite Orbit Hoops, $48, available at Anthropologie.
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