Looking for the perfect Mother’s Day gift for that special woman in your life? How about giving her a vintage jewel with her birthstone or yours? Below is the history and meaning of the gemstone linked to each month along with a selection of pieces from the TruFaux Jewels boutique in the birthstone’s color. To see the full description and detailed photos of a particular piece, click on its link below the photo.
Although red is the most popular garnet color, this gemstone also occurs in shades of green, orange and yellow. Red garnets adorned ancient Egyptian pharaohs and accompanied them to the afterlife as prized possessions. Carried by travelers since long ago, deep-red garnets were believed to light up the night and protect against accidents far from home. Each of these TruFaux Jewels with deep-red glass stones or beads will surely shine a light on the woman who wears it.
Amethyst derives its name from the Greek word for sober, as the ancient Greeks believed the stone would guard against intoxication. Other legends credit amethysts with keeping their wearers quick-witted and clear-headed. Fine amethysts have been set in royal crown jewels and religious jewelry for centuries. The TruFaux Jewels boutique has many pieces from the 1920s-1950s with faceted amethyst glass stones or beads. Shades vary from deep purple to pale violet, as shown in these three Art Deco jewels.
This watery-blue stone derives its name from the Latin for seawater. Believed to protect sailors and to calm waters as well as tempers, the aquamarine has been a symbol of youth, hope, health and fidelity for hundreds of years. In the 19th century, the preferred color was sea green, but today the sky-blue shade, which you’ll find in vintage costume jewelry, is more desirable. Here are an Art Deco necklace and bracelet, and a pair of earrings and bracelet from the 1940s.
Since ancient times, diamonds have been admired objects of desire. Colorless stones are the most popular, but other varieties range from yellow and brown to green, blue, pink red, gray, and black. According to some legends, diamonds were created when lightning struck rocks; according to others, diamonds had great healing powers. For centuries, this gemstone has been viewed as the ultimate gift and symbol of eternal love. Imitation diamonds (called brilliants, pastes, strass, rhinestones and diamanté) have been used in jewelry as early as the 15th century. Here are examples from the 1930s-1950s.
The first known emerald mines date to at least 330 BC in Egypt, and they supplied Cleopatra with her favorite royal adornments during her reign. Many legends are linked to this popular gemstone, which was believed to endow the wearer with the ability to foresee the future and reveal truth as well as with protection against evil spells. Because green is the color of spring, emerald is seen by many as the symbol of rebirth. Emerald green has always been a popular color in vintage costume jewelry.
Once believed to be the tears of the gods, pearls are the only gemstone formed within a living creature: a foreign particle embedded in a mollusk is coated with multiple layers of nacre. These natural pearls have been coveted as symbols of wealth and status for thousands of years. Artificial pearls have been used in jewelry since the Renaissance. They were first made in France, the producer that remained in the forefront until the mid-20th century. The premier French maker of glass pearls and beads at this time was Louis Rousselet, whose necklace and earrings set is shown here.
Red is a bold, warm color that is associated with passion, vitality and power. So it’s no surprise that through the ages the ruby has been worn to guarantee health, wisdom and success in love. The bold red color of this stone helped create the dramatic effect that was in demand in the jewelry of the 1920s and 1930s. Below are two pieces from those decades, as well as a 1940s bracelet and 1950s earrings.
Pale, yellow-green in tone, peridot has always been associated with light. In fact, ancient Egyptians called it the gem of the sun. Peridot is said to bring the wearer power and influence as well as healing properties to protect against nightmares. Because King Edward VII considered the peridot his good-luck stone, it was very popular in Edwardian jewelry. Here we see two pairs of earrings that are slightly later and a fabulous 1950s brooch with unusually cut stones.
Although this gemstone occurs in a variety of colors (including violet, pink, green, orange and purple), the sapphire is most often associated with the color blue. Since the Middle Ages, this gemstone has symbolized the tranquility of the heavens as well as truth, sincerity and faithfulness. Glass stones and beads in varying shades of sapphire blue were popular components in costume jewelry from every era, possibly because blue is the favorite color of nearly half the population.
October: Opal or Tourmaline
A kaleidoscope of flashing colors, the opal is one birthstone for October. Throughout history, many have believed that the stone brings good fortune, while others have thought the opal unlucky unless it is the wearer’s birthstone. This center piece is a lovely example of the opal’s iridescence, which the maker has captured beautifully in this imitation stone. The other birthstone for October is tourmaline, technically a family of gemstones in shades of pink, red, blue, green, yellow and brown. Below are a bracelet and brooch from the 1950s in the color of pink tourmaline (also known as rubellite). This pink tourmaline and alexandrite bracelet (on the left) has matching earrings and a matching necklace.
November: Topaz or Citrine
Two yellow/golden gems are linked to November. The first, topaz, occurs in a color range that includes various shades of yellow, orange, brown, red, pink, purple, blue and green. Legends associated with this gemstone include its ability to dispel bad omens, heal poor vision and calm anger. The other November birthstone is citrine, the yellow or golden variety of the quartz mineral, which is also known for its healing properties. The Art Deco pieces here are sunny citrine, while the 1940s earrings and 1950s bracelet are golden topaz in color.
One of the world’s most ancient gems, turquoise adorned Egyptian pharaohs, the Aztecs of Mexico and early Native Americans. It has been prized for its intense color, which ranges from sky blue to green. Many cultures believe this stone will guarantee its wearer good health, good fortune and protection from evil. Producers of imitation turquoise, which is used in costume jewelry, have been able to replicate both the unlined sky-blue stone as well as the webbed matrix type that we associate with the American southwest. I think the turquoise glass stones in both pairs of earrings here are particularly noteworthy.
For More Vintage Birthstone Jewels
You will find many more pieces of vintage costume jewelry in birthstone colors in the boutique. On the Home page, put your cursor on ‘Shop’ in the navigation bar to see the drop-down menu. When you see the ‘Shop by Birthstone’ column, click on the month you want.