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What Are Birthstones?

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What are Birthstones?

What Are Birthstones?

Many cultures throughout history have revered gemstones.

Gemstones are minerals, rocks, or organic matter that have been chosen for their beauty, durability, and rarity, and then cut or faceted, and polished to make jewelry or other human adornments. There are over 300 gemstones currently documented.

A birthstone is a gemstone that represents a person’s period of birth—usually corresponding to the month or zodiac sign.

In this graphic based on data from the American Gem Trade Association, we look deep into 12 popular birthstones.

What do Birthstones Mean?

Different ancient cultures revered gemstones and connected them to their calendar systems, so there are different lists of birthstones and months that can have more than one gemstone. In Hinduism, for example, there are nine gemstones associated with the Navagraha (celestial forces including the planets, the Sun, and the Moon), known in Sanskrit as Navaratna (nine gems).

Another origin of birthstones traces back to the book of Exodus in the Bible. In Exodus 28, Moses sets forth directions for making special garments for Aaron, the Hebrews’ High Priest and Moses’ elder brother. Specifically, the breastplate was to contain 12 precious gemstones, representing the 12 tribes of Israel.

Given the historical age and numerous translations of the Bible through the ages, there’s been a lot of debate around the identification of the 12 gemstones and no agreement on what the gems actually were.

About 1,500 years after Aaron’s time, in the first centuries of the Christian era, scholars started associating the breastplate gems with the signs of the zodiac. During the 18th century AD, gem traders began to sell gemstones based on a person’s birth month.

BirthstoneBirth MonthHardness
(1-10)
Price
(USD per 1 carat size)
Producing Country
GarnetJanuary 6.5-7.5$175Namibia, Sri Lanka, Russia
Amethyst February 7.0$90Brazil, Zambia
Aquamarine March 7.5-8.0$900Brazil, Tanzania, Kenya
DiamondApril 10.0$11,200Botswana, Congo, Russia
EmeraldMay8.0$7,000Colombia, Brazil
AlexandriteJune 8.5$23,500Brazil, Russia, India
RubyJuly 9.0$10,000Myanmar, U.S., Thailand
Peridot August 6.5-7.0$650U.S., Pakistan, Myanmar
SapphireSeptember9.0$3,500India, Australia, Madagascar
OpalOctober7.0-7.5$350Australia, Mexico, U.S.
CitrineNovember 7.0$70Brazil, Zambia
ZirconDecember6.5-7.5$400Cambodia, Sri Lanka, Vietnam

In some cultures, it is generally agreed that wearing a gemstone during the month when it is the birthstone heightens its healing powers.

The Birthstones Market

The majority of colored gemstones are extracted by artisanal mining communities around the world, in a very decentralized market.

Gemstone prices can vary from $68 per carat for citrine (November) up to $23,500 per carat for Alexandrite (June). The United States is the leading global market, buying roughly $24 billion in gemstones per year.

Besides different colors and prices, birthstones are also measured according to their hardness. The hardness is evaluated using a scale of 1-10 created by Friedrich Mohs that considers the ability to resist scratching. Diamonds (April) rank 10, being 58 times harder than any other mineral on Earth.

To this day, jewelers continue to add options to birthstone lists. Citrine and spinel (August), for example, are modern additions. Likewise, Tanzanite (December)—the second fastest-selling colored gemstone after Sapphire (September)—was only discovered in 1967 by herders in Tanzania.

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Misc

Visualizing Global Aluminum Production

China dominates global production with nearly 60% share.

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Voronoi graphic of aluminum production in 2023.

Visualizing Global Aluminum Production

This was originally posted on our Voronoi app. Download the app for free on iOS or Android and discover incredible data-driven charts from a variety of trusted sources.

This infographic shows estimated aluminum smelter production by country in 2023, based on data from the most recent U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Mineral Commodity Summaries, published in January 2024 .

From this data, we can see that China leads as the top producer, accounting for nearly 60% of the world’s smelter capacity. Its neighbor India is the second-largest producer, making only a tenth of China’s output.

Country2023 Aluminum Smelter Production (tonnes)% of total
🇨🇳 China41,000,00059%
🇮🇳 India4,100,0006%
🇷🇺 Russia3,800,0005%
🇨🇦 Canada3,000,0004%
🇦🇪 United Arab Emirates2,700,0004%
🇧🇭 Bahrain1,600,0002%
🇦🇺 Australia1,500,0002%
🇳🇴 Norway1,300,0002%
🇧🇷 Brazil1,100,0002%
🌍 Rest of the World9,460,00014%
Total69,560,000100%

Responsible for 5% of global aluminum output, Russia has been targeted by recent sanctions from the U.S. and the UK.

The sanctions include prohibiting metal-trading exchanges from accepting new aluminum produced by Russia and barring the import of the Russian metal into the U.S. and Britain. The actions are aimed at disrupting Russian export revenue amid Moscow’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine.

The World’s Most Common Metal

Aluminum is the primary material used for making cans, foil, and many other products. It originates from bauxites, rocks composed of aluminum oxides, and various minerals.

Approximately 25% of annually produced aluminum is utilized by the construction industry, while another 23% is allocated to vehicle frames, wires, wheels, and other components within the transportation sector. Aluminum foil, cans, and packaging constitute another significant end-use category, accounting for 17% of consumption.

Despite its extensive use, aluminum is still plentiful. Aluminum is the world’s most common metal by crustal abundance, making up 8.2% of the Earth’s crust.

According to the USGS, global resources of bauxite are estimated to be between 55 billion and 75 billion tonnes and are sufficient to meet world demand for metal well into the future.

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Misc

Brass Rods: The Sustainable Choice

Brass rods can help cut emissions in machine shops, be recycled without losing properties, and contribute to a cleaner environment.

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Teaser of bar chart and pie chart highlighting how brass rods can reduce emissions in machine shops, be recycled without losing properties, and contribute to a cleaner environment.

Brass Rods: The Sustainable Choice

Brass rods have a powerful lineup of green attributes, making them the sustainable choice for manufacturers and end-users of precision machined and forged parts.

This infographic, from the Copper Development Association, shows how brass rods can reduce emissions in machine shops, be recycled without losing properties, and contribute to a cleaner environment.

The Brass Rod Circular Economy

The metallurgical properties of brass allow pre- and post-consumer sources of brass scrap to be recycled with no loss in properties.

Brass scrap can retain over 90% of the original material value. In addition, brass doesn’t need energy-intensive processing, unlike steel and aluminum, which must be smelted and refined before being recycled into new products.

As a result, there is a greater chance that steel and aluminum scrap will end up in landfills.

Most brass-rod alloys produced in North America contain 95% or higher recycled content.

Closed-loop recycling of brass keeps this valuable engineering material out of landfills, reducing the need for new mines and all the environmental impacts that entails.

Higher Machinability Leads to Lower Operational Carbon Emissions

Machinability is how easily a material can be worked using cutting processes. It directly impacts the amount of energy required to produce finished parts.

With typical machine shops producing millions of parts each year, the carbon impact can be significant.

Here’s how brass and steel compare when manufacturing complex parts using computer numerical control (CNC) machining.

MaterialBrassSteel
TypeFree-cutting brass (C36000)Free-cutting steel (12L14)
Maximum machinability rating (0-100)10021
Metal Removal Rate (cubic inches per minute)0.2380.114
Time to remove material (hours)161,111336,111
Energy required to produce parts (kilowatt-hour)9,47518,931

In this example, using brass represented a savings of 3,510 kg in carbon dioxide (CO2).

The significantly longer tool life enabled by brass also reduces the need for new cutting tools, further decreasing emissions.

High recycled content and exceptional machinability make brass rods the sustainable choice for manufacturers and end-users seeking to reduce their environmental footprint and support the transition to a low-carbon future.

Explore the advantages of brass rod solutions.

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