Birthstones have long held a special place in the world of jewelry and personal adornment. Where did the concept begin? Why are there 12? Why does each month of the year have a gemstone associated with it and whats the tie in with the zodiac?
In this blog, we'll take a journey through the history of birthstones answer all these questions and explore why they are used in jewelry designs.
A Window into the Past: The Origin of Birthstones
The concept of birthstones can be traced back thousands of years, with roots in both ancient spiritual beliefs and in early cultural traditions. Historians believe the idea of associating gemstones with specific months may have originated from the 'Breastplate of Aaron,' a sacred religious plate originally worn by Aaron, elder brother of Moses. It is also known as the Priestly Breastplate, or the Breastplate of Judgement, mentioned in the Bible.
This incredible piece of armour, featured twelve gemstones, each representing one of the twelve tribes of Israel and then in the Christian 8th and 9th century, these stones were taken and given to the 12 apostles who in turn received an accompanying virtue;"strength" "endurance" etc to go with the gemstone.
Early civilizations like the Babylonians, Egyptians and Tibetans adopted similar practices, attributing specific gemstones to astrological signs and lunar calendars. People believed that wearing their birthstone could influence their destiny and protect them from negative forces.
Breastplate of Aaron - with 12 gemstones, 1 for each tribe
Egyptian Lapis Necklace - Lapis was used to ward off evil
and to keep it's wearer safe with courage and strength
Birthstones and Astrology: A Spiritual Connection
Astrology played a significant role in the evolution of birthstones. Believers in astrology associated certain gemstones with the zodiac signs and believed that wearing the corresponding birthstone would bring them good luck, protection, and harmony. This belief system gave birthstones a deeper, almost mystical significance.
The Modern Birthstone List: An Evolution
In 1912, the American National Retail Jewelers Association (now Jewelers of America) standardized the modern list of birthstones that most people are familiar with today. This list associates a specific gemstone with each month of the year, providing a clear framework for personalized jewelry designs. Later in the mid 20th century, some months, took on two gemstones to signify virtues. See below to find your birthstone.
Find Yours Here:
January - Garnet
Garnet symbolizes love, loyalty, and protection. It is believed to keep the wearer safe.
February - Amethyst
Amethyst represents peace, courage, and stability. It is also associated with sobriety and clear thinking.
March - Aquamarine
Aquamarine is known for its soothing properties and is often associated with tranquility, courage, and communication.
April - Diamond
Diamond, the hardest gemstone, symbolizes eternal love, strength, and invincibility. It is often used in engagement rings.
May - Emerald
Emerald is associated with rebirth, fertility, and love. It's considered a symbol of renewal and growth.
June - Pearl and Alexandrite
Pearl and Alexandrite are the birthstones for June. Pearls symbolize purity and wisdom, while Alexandrite represents balance and good luck.
July - Ruby
Ruby is a symbol of love, passion, and vitality. It is believed to bring good fortune and protect against evil.
August - Peridot
Peridot symbolizes strength and protection. It is associated with harmony and good luck.
September - Sapphire
Sapphire represents loyalty, nobility, and sincerity. It is often given as a symbol of commitment and love.
October - Opal and Tourmaline
October has two birthstones: opal and tourmaline. Opal symbolizes creativity and inspiration, while tourmaline represents energy and protection.
November - Citrine and Topaz
November's birthstones are citrine and topaz. Citrine is associated with success and positive energy, while topaz symbolizes love and affection.
December - Turquoise and Zircon
December has two birthstones: turquoise and zircon. Turquoise symbolizes strength and protection, while zircon represents wisdom and honor.
Birthstones in Jewelry Today
1. Personalization: Representation of birthstones in modern jewellery has become more trendy, as people look for 'personalised jewellery' that speaks to them. It's a talking point for the wearer but also a sign from the giver, that they have considered the gifting.
2. Sentimental Value: Jewelry featuring birthstones often holds sentimental value. It can be a cherished gift for birthdays, anniversaries, or other special occasions, representing a deep connection between the giver and the recipient. Passed on to generations.
3. Aesthetic Appeal: Beyond their symbolism, birthstones come in a stunning array of colors and varieties, making them visually appealing for jewelry designs.
4. Spiritual Significance: Many people still believe in the spiritual and healing properties associated with their birthstone. Wearing your birthstone is believed to bring you protection, good fortune, and other positive attributes associated with that particular gem. The divine energy force of crystals and their wearers continues to fascinate into modern times.
In conclusion, the history of birthstones is a testament to the enduring human fascination with gems. Birthstones connect us to our heritage, beliefs, and the very essence of our birth month. They have become a meaningful and aesthetically pleasing way, to celebrate our individuality and create timeless jewelry. Whether worn for spiritual beliefs, aesthetics, or sentimental reasons, birthstone jewelry is a tradition that continues to shine brightly in the world of body adornment.