Birthstones are a great way to celebrate a birthday, but what you might not realise is that every gem has a number of significant facts behind it and comes steeped in intriguing mythology.
Every month of the year is represented by a beautiful birthstone, each with its own unique meaning and interesting folklore.
You'll hear many ideas about how birthstones came about. They're thought to go way back to the Bible and the breastplate made for Aaron, the High Priest of the Hebrews.
The garment held 12 precious gemstones, each one representing a different Israeli tribe. Many theories have been offered up since.
The stones were once linked to the signs of the zodiac, before later becoming associated with the 12 months of the year.
Birthstones are shrouded in myth and legend – they're traditionally believed to bring good luck and therapeutic powers. It was thought that wearing the gemstone during its associated month helped to enhance its abilities, the idea being that you should own all 12 and wear each one depending on the time of year.
Nowadays, birthstones are given to loved ones as birthday gifts in different forms of jewellery.
With each birthstone having its own individual meaning and history, they make for a truly thoughtful and personal gift - and they can be cherished for a lifetime.
Whether you're looking to treat yourself or someone special, birthstones can be the standout feature of beautiful jewellery pieces and have great personal significance.
Here’s a list of birthstones to help you find out more about each month's stone and what they mean for the wearer:
January's birthstone is Garnet; most commonly found in a rich, fiery red shade, although it can appear in other striking colours.
The stone is a symbol of peace, prosperity and good health - all the things we toast when seeing in the new year. It’s no coincidence the gem looks a bit like a pomegranate seed - the word 'garnet' comes from the Latin for 'seedlike'.
Famed for its stunning deep violet colour, Amethyst is the birthstone of February.
This instantly recognisable gemstone is a member of the quartz family and is linked to qualities of peace, courage and stability. For many years, Amethyst's were as highly valued as diamonds and even favoured by royalty.
A March birthday is symbolised by Aquamarine.
Its mesmerising colour ranges from deep to pale pastel blue, reminiscent of the sea. Darker shades of aquamarine are very rare and bump up the value of the stone. For centuries, this beautiful stone has been thought to bring youth and health. It's the colour of water and the sky and is said to represent eternal life.
Diamonds were a girl's best friend long before Marilyn Monroe told us so. If you're lucky enough to have a birthday in April, this striking gem is your birthstone.
A Diamond symbolises deep, everlasting love, coming from the fact it's the hardest substance on earth – only another Diamond can scratch a Diamond. Even the name is derived from the Greek for 'invincible'.
For those who pay attention to superstition, wear a Diamond and you'll be brought peace and be protected from negative energies all year round.
Looking for an affordable alternative? White topaz, the gem of clarity and strength, is the next go-to stone for April.
One of Egyptian queen Cleopatra's favourite gems, the green Emerald is the birthstone for May.
Emeralds have always been associated with fertility, love and rebirth – certainly according to the ancient Egyptians - but modern interpretation links them to wisdom, growth and patience.
June’s birthstone is Pearl.
Popular for centuries because of their gleaming natural beauty, Pearls symbolise purity. They make for a natural-looking jewellery piece thanks to their soft colour.
Naturally formed, these stones are a beautiful addition to a piece of jewellery. For the romantics out there, the ancient Greeks held the belief that Pearls were the tears of joy of Aphrodite, the goddess of love.
July's birthstone, the Ruby, is considered to be the king of the gems, known for its vibrant red colour.
If there was ever a gemstone more fitting to signify love, we've yet to come across it. In fact, the Ruby's brilliant red hues are such a perfect symbol of love that it's become an increasingly popular choice for engagement rings.
It's also believed that a Ruby will protect its wearer from evil as well as bestowing good fortune, so it's a great choice to give a loved one.
Peridot, August's birthstone, is lime green in colour and is believed to bring power and influence to its wearer.
This striking stone is said to attract love and quieten feelings of anger, as well as soothing nerves and warding off negative emotions.
September's birthstone, Sapphire, is commonly thought of as blue, but can also be found in pink, orange, clear, yellow and many other colours.
Many don't believe it until they see it for themselves, but mystical colour-changing Sapphires also exist, known as 'phenomenon' stones.
Sapphires are said to protect the wearer from evil, stress and harm. Once upon a time it was even believed that a venomous snake would meet its end if thrown in a container made of Sapphire.
This is another stone enjoying popularity as a choice for engagement rings, which is fitting since it has long represented a promise of honesty, loyalty and trust.
Opal is the birthstone for the month of October.
Known as the Queen of the gems in ancient times, this beautiful stone got its nickname because it's made up of all the colours of the other gems.
Each gem is stunningly unique, whether it's made up of calming blues and greens or exciting, vibrant reds and yellows. For a very long time, many have said that Opal has healing powers.
Topaz is the main birthstone for November - and it has great appeal.
Shades of yellow, brown and honey take centre stage in Topaz, but if you come across a pale pink or sherry red form, you're on to an exceptional find.
Topaz is increasingly popular in various shades of blue, as while it's rare in nature, it can be easily crafted from clear material.
Delving into its history, the Greeks believed Topaz heightened strength.
December's birthstone; Tanzanite is a much-loved stone.
Velvety blue in appearance, with rich overtones of purple, there aren't many other stones quite like it.
The warm hues are associated with generosity and friendship, while wearers of Tanzanite are said to be given a helping hand dealing with change.
Tanzanite can only be found in one place in the world - Tanzania, near Mount Kilimanjaro - so it's a rather special gem if you can get your hands on it.