Who would not be thrilled to receive a sparkling gemstone as a gift this Christmas? Crystals and gemstones have been used for jewellery and adornment since man first learned how to mine and use them. And from the start they have also been imbued with powerful healing and metaphysical properties. Giving one as a gift, therefore, can say more than simple words, so the stone should be chosen with care!

Choosing a birthstone as a gift shows a little more thought than just giving a pretty-coloured stone. Each month has a stone attributed to it and ensuring that the correct stone is chosen will make the gift doubly welcome as well as adding a little extra fun or offering an interesting talking point, if the ancient beliefs surrounding the stone are known.

garnet (31160)

For a January birthday, garnets are the stone to give. The origin of the word is thought to be Latin, or possibly from the Middle Ages, when the word 'gernet' meant dark red. This deep red stone, sometimes known as the 'day dreamer stone' because it enhances the imagination, is also associated with the purification of the blood. It was thought to balance the emotions and sexual passions, bringing harmony in love.

The beautiful amethyst is February's stone. This is known as the 'elevator' for its beneficial amethyst (31165)effects on right brain function. Amethysts were believed to be powerful aids to spiritual enhancement as they could cut through illusions and inspire intuitive and healing powers. They were also believed to strengthen the immune system, cleanse the blood and re-energise the body.

Aquamarine is the stone for March. Known as the serenity stone, this lovely, pale stone was believed to calm the nerves and combat fears and phobias. As well as balancing the mind and emotions, and enhancing creativity, it also brought physical strength and healing, particularly in kidney and liver complaints.

Thdiamond (31166)ey say diamonds are a girl's best friend and this must certainly true of girls with April birthdays. The giver of diamonds means serious business and hopes to inspire faithfulness and lasting devotion, which is why the stones are so popular in engagement rings. Diamonds were thought to be the master healers, able to dispel negativity and enhance brain function and the higher consciousness. However diamonds are expensive so why not choose a clear quartz crystal instead? Quartz is good for the soul as it repels negative energy and attracts and amplifies positive energy, producing good thoughts. The use of quartz in healing and meditation is very well known.

For May, it is the emerald, the stone of unconditional love and great power. It was believed to strengthen all the major organs and revitalise the immune system. Emeralds aided spiritual insight and the quest for enlightenment. This dark green beryl stone was also thought to be a stone of prosperity and love.

Pearls are the traditional stone for June, but these are largely unpopular nowadays and alexandrite has stepped in as the birthstone for June. It is another stone of the beryl family and was also called 'the love child' as it was believed to heal and rebalance a troubled mind and body. As well as bringing emotional harmony and stability, it was also thought to produce joie de vivre!

The ruby or 'heart stone' belongs to July and, unsurprisingly, this vibrant red stone is a ruby (31164)symbol of power, passion and devotion. Rubies promoted mental health and integrity as well as bodily preservation. Giving a ruby is acknowledging natural leadership but of a fair and selfless type: true majesty, in other words.

The pretty peridot, lighter in shade than the emerald, is the stone for August. It was believed to detoxify the body and mind, leaving it revitalised and open to new opportunities, which it readily attracted. Peridots were believed to bring fortune, wealth and vigour to the wearer.

The beautiful blue sapphire is September's stone and was thought to be deeply psychic. It was used to open connections with the higher self, bringing wisdom and confidence in judgement. It also acted as a healer on heart and glandular disorders. Because it was also thought to strengthen will power, it might be a good stone to give someone who is trying to quit smoking!

October's opalstone is the lovely, iridescent opal. Believed to aid eyesight as well as stimulating the pineal gland, its psychic connections are obvious. Opals induced conscious connections with the higher self and brought peace and contentment. Pink tourmalines and Zircons are also associated with the month of October and shared the same properties and protections, promoting strong connections with the higher self.

Citrine, November's stone offered many healing properties especially for digestive citrinedisorders or problems with the colon, liver or gall bladder. It was thought to improve the mood and promote a positive sense of self, bringing energy, hope and cheerfulness. It was also believed to be a lucky stone, attracting wealth and good fortune.

While yellow topaz is also associated with November, blue topaz is one of December's stones. Topaz sometimes referred to as 'the abundant one'. It was thought to regenerate tissues and organs and bring tranquillity and creativity to the wearer. Blue zircon is also associated with December and is a calming stone, believed to bring emotional tranquillity and protection against depression and insomnia. It was also associated with wisdom and mental strength, enabling the wearer to tap into the higher energies.

Whether or not you believe in the healing and talismanic properties of gemstones, there is no denying that they make attractive gifts, however large or small or in whatever setting. A carefully chosen gemstone can suggest that a little extra thought or consideration has gone into your Christmas shopping list – and that should surely be worth a few more brownie points this year!