Birthstones – A 2,000 Year History

Birthstones have existed in some form for nearly two thousand years. Specific gemstones have been tied to months of the year since the first century.

History of Birthstones

The concept of assigning a stone to each month of the traces back to the Bible. In the book of Exodus, the Breastplate of Aaron was a religious garment

Birthstones may have originated from the stones on the breastplate of Aaron.

Artist’s Depiction: Breastplate of Aaron

that had 12  gemstones, representing the 12 tribes of Israel.These were sardius (chalcedony), topaz, jasper, carbuncle (garnet), emerald, amethystberyl, diamond, agate, onyx, ligure (amber) and sapphire.

In the first and fifth centuries, Flavious Josephus and St. Jerome respectively, connected those 12 gemstones with astrological signs in their writings. They suggested that gemstones had powers and those corresponded with the 12 zodiac signs. In the 18th century, Jewish gem traders brought the idea to Poland.

Modern Birthstones

In 1912, the National Association of Jewelers, now called Jewelers of America, officially defined a modern list of birthstones for the purpose of marketing jewelry. Since then there have been a few updates and alternate stones added, most recently Tanzanite, which wasn’t discovered until the 1960’s

There are dozens of variations of birthstones in existence. Click here for a link to a modern chart to help in choosing birthstone gifts. If you don’t like the stone associated with your birth month, don’t worry, we’ll add other versions in the future. Some alternate lists include Ayurvedic, Mystic, Tibetan and Astrological.

 

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