Getting something inked onto your body permanently is a way to tell the world just how much something means to you, regardless of whether that’s because it’s a personal image or simply because you like how it looks. Birthstone tattoos are a great way to pay homage to your birth month (an alternative to constellation designs), and their colors and shapes can be interpreted in a number of different ways to really make your final design unique.
Want to be sure that your birthstone tattoo has a major wow factor, though? A new technique is allowing artists to shade and highlight in a way that makes your gemstone look like it’s really reflecting light — aka, your birthstone tattoo can be an optical illusion! A mix of black and white detailing makes the design look like it’s really sparkling, so you can be sure your tattoo is always shining and ready to be shown off. Here are some ideas for incredible optical illusion gemstone tattoos to honor and celebrate your birthstone.
If you're looking for a more minimalist take on your birthstone, just ask your tattoo artist for a basic gem outline (this one resembles a diamond) using colored ink. Here, red ink is used to mimic garnet.
By adding a black outline and small black splotches, the gemstone is given a sense of depth and dimension. This is aided by the use of small chunks of white that seem to be reflecting light, making it a realistic design. The teardrop shape is a popular choice that also gives the design a customized look, as gems can be cut in a variety of shapes.
Getting heart-shaped birthstones is a great idea for adding whimsy to an otherwise straightforward design. This tattoo uses a row of pearls along the outside of the gem to emphasize both its shape and the gemstone design. Getting an armband tattoo is a unique and statement-making way to show off your birthstone.
If you like the look of gemstone tattoos but want something a bit more dainty, try adding whispy jewelry designs to your ink. While the amethyst remains the focal point of the tattoo, its harshness from its vivid color is dulled somewhat by the thin lines and wispiness of the jewelry detailing.
The beauty of Aquamarine is that it’s made up of a number of different colors, so you can incorporate more than just one pigment into your tattoo. This design foregoes the use of any black lines to make it feel more realistic, and even the thin outline around the entire tattoo is done in a blue.
Just because the birthstone is an optical illusion doesn’t mean that it has to be a typical gemstone shape! By customizing the shape, you can ensure that you'll like your tattoo for the years to come. This ink takes the shape of a butterfly, but the wings are done with enough small detail that you don’t lose the dimensional effect.
Think diamonds are boring because they’re a translucent color? Why not add a touch of rainbow light to yours! The diamond shape is defined by the thin black outline, leaving space for the different colored shadow effect.
If you would prefer to have a more traditionally translucent diamond, go with different levels of grey and black to give the jewel effect. In this design, there is slight white detailing as well to give the diamond a sense of light in contrast to the shadow.
A rectangular gem is a classic shape that’s simple enough to make a statement. Up the boldness by using a deep but bright green (think Oz’s Emerald City) under a thin black outline. You can also emphasize the light and shadows with thicker black lines spread throughout and white detailing.
A heart-shaped gemstone tattoo truly emphasizes the personal nature of a birthstone tattoo by showing everyone that it’s something you love. Getting the ink on the inside of the ankle adds even more of a personal feel because of the intimate and slightly hidden placement.
June: Pearl and Alexandrite
Celebrate both gemstones of June by getting a clam and its pearl in the colors of alexandrite. This tattoo uses more vivid hues to give the tattoo a whimsical feel, and the white detailing makes it look more realistic.
If you want the most impact from a pearl tattoo and want it to look as realistic as possible, I suggest going for a single pearl like this design. This allows the artist to focus on the detailing of this one element to make it as perfect as possible. Here, only blackwork is used to define the shadows.
The beauty of gemstones is that they can look like a million different colors depending on what light you look at them under. This makes it easy to personalize your birthstone by adding a color you think compliments it or that you love, like the purple in this ink.
If you want a design that’s something more than the typical gemstone, try adding a wrapping detail — like this snake — to emphasize it and add something custom. While this design doesn’t look like the typical optical illusion stone, it still manages to give off a dimensional effect.
A birthstone tattoo is quite personal to begin with, but you can customize it further by choosing a unique shape. This peridot gemstone is drawn in a 3D spike design which makes an impact, but the pastel colors and thin black lines keep it more elegant than playful.
We love how this tattoo features the birthstones of multiple family members, aligning peridot, a pearl, and a sapphire.
Make every color in your gemstone bright and apply the color generously to give the design a more cartoonish and whimsical feel. The light-colored detailing around the stone further emphasizes the ink’s playful nature.
Make your tattoo a bit more ornate than just a single gemstone by adding thin linework around birthstone. Keep it simple by only adding color to the gemstone and doing the surrounding detail in black ink.
A gemstone doesn’t always mean a polished ring-like design; sometimes it means a rough rock like this design. This maintains an air of uniqueness and connection to the Earth, but the colors clearly communicate it as an opal.
You can make your birthstone the center of the design without making it the largest element like how the tattoo is laid out here. At first this just looks like a crescent moon tattoo, but when you look closely you can see that it's filled with opal-toned ink.
November: Citrine and Topaz
This topaz tattoo almost resembles watercolor ink, a more subtle way to pull off the more saturated takes on birthstone tattoos.
Show off just how much you love sparkle with an optical illusion birthstone surrounded by smaller diamonds. This design uses a lot of white detailing to give the look of heavy light refraction, making your ink appear to shine at all times.
December: Zircon, Tanzanite, and Turquoise
The beauty of gemstones is that they all look different, so it gives you a great opportunity to customize your tattoo design. If you want a more elegant and dainty look, go for a marbled version of your birthstone and ditch the black outlines.
A gemstone doesn’t have to have the geometric look to be an optic illusion — all you need is shadows and light. By using black and white for those purposes respectively, you give the design a sense of dimension, freeing you up to make it what you want in terms of shape, ornamentation, and overall look.