When you think of birthstones, you probably think of the colorful modern-day gems—richly hued garnets for January, sparkly diamonds for April, and luminescent pearls for June. But, what are the origins of birthstones?
The origins of this tradition trace all the way back to biblical times and the Book of Exodus. It describes the breastplate worn by Aaron, the first high priest of the Israelites. The breastplate was adorned with 12 different stones, each representing one of the 12 tribes of Israel. These stones were said to have possessed great powers and had the ability to tell people their fate.
Nearly a half-century later, historians would draw connections and meaning to the 12 stones in the breastplate, the 12 months of the year, and the 12 zodiac signs. By the 5 th century, a tradition of collecting 12 unique stones and only wearing one for each month of the year was thought to bring the wearer protection and power.
The modern tradition of wearing one stone for the month of birth did not begin until the 16th century and originated in either Germany or Poland. This was the start of the birthstone trend we are familiar with today. Even though birthstones had already become an international trend rooted in centuries-long practice, there was still no consensus on the list of birthstones. Finally, in 1912 the National Association of Jewelers standardized the list of American birthstones and each month they represented.
As it turns out, you can say “yes” to yourself and still have plenty of space to care for everyone and everything else.
|Modern Birthstone List:||Traditional Birthstone List:|
|January — Garnet||January — Garnet|
|February — Amethyst||February — Amethyst|
|March — Aquamarine||March — Bloodstone|
|April — Diamond||April — Diamond|
|May — Emerald||May — Emerald|
|June — Alexandrite||June — Pearl|
|July — Ruby||July — Ruby|
|August — Peridot or Spinel||August — Sardonyx|
|September — Sapphire||September — Sapphire|
|October — Tourmaline||October — Opal|
|November — Golden Topaz or Citrine||November — Topaz|
|December — Blue Zircon, Blue Topaz, or Tanzanite||December — Turquoise or Lapis|
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