Australia is a country with many natural wonders – but did you know of the many “hidden gems” that Australia is home to?
In fact, some of the world’s most popular birthstones are mined in Australia.
Here’s a look at the birthstones mined in Australia – and their hidden meanings.
Let’s start with the first month of the year: January and its birthstone garnet. Garnet is one of the oldest known gemstones in the world – artifacts have been recovered even from Ancient Egyptian tombs and mummies.
The Ancient Greeks and Romans also placed a high value on this fiery gemstone: they actually used seals of garnet to mark important documents, as well as pieces of jewelry. They used garnet signet rings to seal important documents as well as for a variety of jewelry pieces and other items. In fact, the word “garnet” comes from the Latin word granatus for seed, likely due to its resemblance to pomegranate seeds.
That’s because garnets are usually red – but are also found in a full rainbow of colors including orange, yellow, purple and even green.
Today, in Australia, Garnet is mined extensively in Proston, Mount Tarampa and Mount Wyangapinni, as well as in the Orange district of New South Wales. Typically, garnet has historically been used as a source of protection and healing.
Another important birthstone mined in Australia is the emerald – the gemstone for May. As May represents the spring, it’s hardly a surprise that emerald has historically symbolized youth, rejuvenation, good fortune and sunny days ahead.
Emeralds have also been historically associated with love, and in ancient Greece were offered to Aphrodite, the goddess of beauty and love. There are also some interesting legends that emeralds can help you see the future, or that placing them under the tongue can help increase the powers of public speaking. Today, emeralds in Australia are mined in three main deposits: Poona and Menzies in Western Australia, and Emmaville in New South Wales.
Now let’s move to the high summer, with Ruby as the birthstone for July. Ruby is red, fiery as the blazing summer. With their blood-red color, you may not be surprised to know that the name of this stone is derived from the Latin word rubeus, meaning ‘red’. Their brilliant red color makes rubies obvious symbols of love and passion, and this stone is believed to inspire devotion and fidelity in romantic relationships.
French jewelers in the 1800s actually referred to the ruby as the “dearly beloved stone”, due to its association with romance. In Australia, rubies today are found at various sites in New South Wales, with significant deposits near Gloucester.
As we move from summer to the fall, let’s look at the September birthstone: the pure blue sapphire, a variety of the corundum gemstone. With its celestial blue color, sapphire has always signified divine elements, heaven, and the wise judgment of the gods across a range of cultures.
Ancient Greeks wore sapphire for heavenly guidance when they sought advice and answers from oracles. Buddhists and Hindus meanwhile closely associate the sapphire with spiritual enlightenment. Today, sapphires are found in all eastern Australian states, as well as Tasmania.
Let’s close out this list with a winter stone: the November birthstone topaz. While topaz comes in a variety of colors, it’s typically found in hues of yellow. Due to its sunny yellow color, topaz was associated with the god of the sun, Apollo, and signified bringing warmth and good fortune to the weather.
Additionally, scholars believe that the meaning of the word topaz comes from the ancient Indian Sanskrit language, in which Tapaz meant fire. Other linguistic scholars however, believe that the stone’s name comes from Topazios, the ancient Greek name for a Red Sea island that is in modern times called Zabargad. Due to its goldish hue, topaz was also associated with an ability to attract gold – particularly if the stone was set in a piece of gold jewelry.
This legend could also be due Topaz’s association with royalty: in imperial Russia, ownership of the precious stone was closely restricted to the royal family.Today, topaz in Australia is found abundantly in the New England area of New South Wales.