Birthstones

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A Brief History of Birthstones

The breastplate of Aaron (Exodus 28:15-30) was a piece of body armor encrusted with 12 precious and semi precious gemstones (representing the 12 tribes of Israel) encased in gold.  Authorities agree that this was the first introduction and possible origin of birthstones in Western culture.

The popularity of precious and semi precious gemstones today is based on “healing earth energies” where minerals and crystals were thought to contain magical powers used in healing many types of illness.
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 The clearer and more perfect the gemstone, the more healing power it contained and hence why today, the most sought-after gemstones are those with the most exceptional clarity and colour.

The Twelve Tribes of Israel

 

TRIBE

GEMSTONE

Reuben

Carnelian

Simeon

Peridot

Levi

Emerald

Judah

Garnet

Issachar

Lapis lazuli

Zebulun

Rock crystal

Joseph

Zircon

Benjamin

Agate

Dan

Amethyst

Naphtali

Citrine

Gad

Onyx

Assher

Jasper

 

 

In ancient times, lucky charms were made of various combination's of gemstones to ward off evil spirits, sickness and bad luck.  Circular stones, worn as armbands, were also believed to give the wearer special powers of strength. 

Do you know that if you search hard enough you will find you have the choice of selecting a stone for the day you were born, your birth month, zodiac sign, season of the year, religious choice and by the colour if you choose a synthetic stone.

Before the modern twelve-month Roman calendar, astrologers endowed the symbolism of early religious beliefs to the various gemstones assigned to the zodiac.  Below is a list of the various stones in the order they are thought to be the closest to vibrate to their particular sign.

Stones of the Zodiac

 

Zodiac Sign

Gemstone

Aries

Bloodstone

Taurus

Sapphire

Gemini

Agate

Cancer

Emerald

Leo

Onyx

Virgo

Carnelian

Libra

Peridot

Scorpio

Aquamarine

Sagittarius

Topaz

Capricorn

Ruby

Aquarius

Garnet

Pisces

Amethyst


While in more recent times there have been a number of birthstones list in circulation, Touchstone use the most commonly accepted “official birthstone List” established by the American National Association of Jewelers in 1912 and revised in 2002, with the inclusion of tanzanite for December.

The association of specific gemstones with months of the year goes back many centuries. Precious gems were first associated with signs of the zodiac. Often combined with modern birthstone lists, traditional birthstones are older society-based birthstones. Since many different cultures have their own list, jewelers' lists are often inconsistent over what constitutes a traditional birthstone.

In 1912, in an effort to standardize them, Jewelers of America officially adopted a list, shown as the "Modern Birthstones" column in the table below. It is currently the most widely used global list.  Tanzanite was only added to the list in December in 2002. Some organisations still do not recognize Tanzanite as a December birthstone and the move to make it a December birthstone has generally been viewed as a marketing technique.

None the less, people with a touch of imagination and romance still believe that birthstones possess an indefinable significance and magical charm.

 

Month

Traditional Birthstone

Modern Birthstone

Mystical Birthstone

Ayurvedic Birthstone

January

Garnet

Garnet

Emerald

Garnet

February

Amethyst

Amethyst

Bloodstone

Amethyst

March

Bloodstone, Jasper

Aquamarine

Jade

Bloodstone

April

Diamond, Sapphire

Diamond

Opal

Diamond

May

Emerald, Agate

Emerald

Sapphire

Agate

June

Alexandrite, Emerald

Moonstone, Pearl

Moonstone

Pearl

July

Ruby, Onyx

Ruby

Ruby

Ruby

August

Sardonyx, Carnelian

Peridot

Diamond

Sapphire

September

Sapphire, Peridot

Sapphire

Agate

Moonstone

October

Tourmaline, Aquamarine

Opal, Tourmaline

Jasper

Opal

November

Citrine, Topaz

Topaz, Citrine

Pearl

Topaz

December

Zircon, Ruby

Turquoise, Blue Topaz, Tanzanite

Onyx

Ruby

 

 A Word on Buying Birthstones

Birthstones are a very personal choice.  Some people who do not like the colour of their actual birthstone will often make excuses to choose another and claim it as their own. For example, the birthstone for November is golden topaz, yet many people prefer blue topaz, even though this lovely blue color is the result of the treatment of a pale blue or colorless natural topaz crystal.

The colour of birthstones historically speaking is the important consideration; however the wishes of the gift recipient override all other considerations regarding the correctness of a birthstone gift.

 
Note that sapphires come in all colours of the rainbow (except red which are given the name ruby), as do tourmalines and even diamonds. Garnet, usually a red birthstone, is actually available in a variety of colors including orange, green, and even purple.

Gemstones are also assigned to the days of the week, and in the 1990’s synthetic gemstones were suggested being based purely on their colour.