21.08.2013

What is the History of the Birthstone?

Based on tradition each birthstone is associated with particular qualities that are meant to be represented in a person who is born in the stone’s corresponding month. Birthstones are also referred to as gemstones and are given as jewellery to people for gifts.

The history of the birthstone

The concept of birthstones is based on ancient history and the proclamation by the first century Jewish historian Josephus. He thought there was a strong connection between a priestly breastplate worn by the High Priest for the Israelites adorned with four rows of three engraved gems framed in gold, the twelve months of the year and the twelve signs of the zodiac. Each stone from the breastplate was assigned to a month of the year based on the Gregorian Calendar.

There are broad interpretations of Aaron’s breastplate as translations of the Exodus passage have become skewed overtime and between languages. A Christian perspective of the stones associated them with the Foundation Stones linked to the apostles. It became customary to keep twelve stones and wear one every month.

Modern lists of birthstones

Wearing a single birthstone based on a person’s month of birth has only been practised for a few centuries – with the exact date clouded in uncertainty. With a reflection on the jewellery practice of English-speaking societies a standardised list was prepared in 1912 by the National Association of Jewellers in the U.S., a European version was created by Britain’s National Association of Goldsmiths in 1937 and an update to the original 1912 list by the Jewellery Industry Council of America in 1952.

The current list of birthstones

  • January – Garnet
  • February – Amethyst
  • March – Aquamarine and Bloodstone
  • April – Diamond
  • May – Emerald
  • June – Pearl and Moonstone
  • July – Ruby
  • August – Peridot
  • September – Sapphire
  • October – Opal
  • November – Topaz and Citrine
  • December – Tanzanite and Turquoise and Zircon

If you are considering spoiling a loved one with a piece of jewellery why not consider adding a birthstone into the design. It is not only thoughtful but adds some history and meaning to the gift. Diamonds International can work with you to create a truly unique piece of jewellery to reflect your personality and budget.