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A Brief Background of Birthstones

The Traditional U.S. Birthstones in order from left to right

Birthstones are something we all have in common! That is, we all have one that we can call our own. And if we look at the different systems behind birthstones, we actually have more than one to choose from! Here I will take a short dive into the history of birthstones in order to provide some sort of reasoning behind why we tie certain stones to our identities.

The mysterious origin of birthstones is a hard one to trace. A popular belief is that the Breastplate of Aaron, from biblical times, was adorned with 12 different stones. The number 12 is significant, as it is found in the 12-month Gregorian calendar, the 12 astrological Zodiac signs, and the 12 Tribes of Israel. Before the modern tradition of birthstones began, people would wear all birthstones, choosing to honor the one representing the current month. This method existed until only a couple of centuries ago! Other cultures choose to honor birthstones in a different manner. for example, according to "The Healing power of Gemstones", Hinduists choose to associate stones with the stars, wearing ones that align with the skies at the time of birth.

In our Western culture, the usage of birthstones changed a few centuries ago. Some experts put this as early as the 1600s, or as late as the 1800s. Our current list of birthstones was originally adopted in 1912 by the National Association of Jewelers in order to create some sort of standardization to decide what stone belonged with what month. Britain keeps a separate but almost identical list. These lists have been updated twice since creation, mainly in order to accommodate newly discovered stones. (tanzanite)


Currently accepted birthstones are as follows

12-month Calendar Birthstones

January - Garnet

February - Amethyst

March - Aquamarine or Bloodstone

April - Diamond

May - Emerald

June - Pearl or moonstone or Alexandrite

July - Ruby

August - Peridot or Spinel

September - Sapphire

October - Opal or Tourmaline

November - Topaz or Citrine

December - Turquoise or Blue Zircon or Tanzanite

Zodiac Signs Birthstone System

Aquarius - Garnet

Pisces - Amethyst

Aries - Bloodstone

Taurus - Sapphire

Gemini - Agate

Cancer - Emerald

Leo - Onyx

Virgo - Carnelian

Libra - Chrysolite

Scorpio - Beryl

Sagittarius - Topaz

Capricorn - Ruby

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