History of Birthstones. What is your Birthstone?.

January 16, 2017

History of Birthstones

History of Birthstones. What is your Birthstone? and more information. 

Birthstones, stones for fortune, horoscope, birth signs, etc. -when we choose a gem, we can do it based on many factors. The most common factors are colour, hardness, "fashion or trend", but we must not forget or ignore something that has been going on for millennia: the protection we seek in them.

These precious stones of fortune, or birthstones are used in jewelry a lot, whether it is a ring, necklace, bracelet, or pendant. And also for special gifts: engagement or promise rings, for mother's day, etc.

Each month of the year is associated with a certain gem, like the signs of the zodiac, anniversaries, etc. The correspondence of a particular stone with a certain month has been changing over time, although the use of gemstones as an amulet is still frequent even today.

The attraction we feel to gemstones goes way back, with Pliny the Elder writing over 2000 years ago:

“That nothing may be wanting from the work which I have undertaken, it still remains for me to speak of precious stones: a subject in which the majestic might of Nature presents itself to us, contracted within a very limited space, though, in the opinion of many, nowhere displayed in a more admirable form.”

For millennia, man has sought protection and fortune from these small miracles of Nature.

 

HISTORY OF BIRTHSTONES 

Gemstones are closely related to the religion and beliefs of mankind.

 

In the Bible there is evidence of the use of gems (Exodus 28 and 39), there were 12 gems on Aaron's chest (a religious garment in the form of a breastplate), representing the twelve tribes of Israel. Through later writings we know that, later on in history, associations were made between these 12 precious stones used on the breastplate and the 12 birth signs of the zodiac, as well as the use of these stones as a talisman.

Moses and Aaron with the Tablets of the Law - Jewish Museum LondonMoses and Aaron with the Tablets of the Law - Oil painting - Jewish Museum London


 

But it is not only the Judeo-Christian religion that is associated with precious stones,  we also find something similar in Hinduism. The belief that the position of planets and constellations at the time of one’s birth affects life, meant that Vedic astrologers would use certain gems to minimize or maximize the influences of planets in people's lives. There are nine gems that they use (Hessonite, Garnet, Blue Sapphire, Cat's Eye, Yellow Sapphire, Emerald, Diamond, Pearl, Coral and Ruby), which correspond to the seven planets and to the two moon nodes.

In Islam, this is based on legends associated with Ali Ibn Abu Talib (cousin and son-in-law of the Prophet Muhammad). He adorned himself with four rings, each of which had a different stone. These stones are believed to be Carnelian, Ruby, Turquoise, Hematite. These stones conferred certain powers to their holder (protection, respect and dignity, strength, beauty, etc.).

But it was in the 16th and 17th century when the use of precious stones as birth stones became very popular in Poland. The richest and most powerful members of society used, each month, those precious stone that corresponded to the time of year, in order protect themselves from the misfortunes of life. At the time only a few lucky ones were able to use a different stone every month, and the less fortunate, if they were lucky, had to be content with the stone that represented their birth month.

The current list of birthstones has little to do with Aaron's breastplate, especially given they have been changing over the years since.

In 1912 the American National Retail Jewelers Association, now known as the Jewelers of America - JA, published a list of Birthstones, a list that was modified in 1952 as a consequence of new consumer preferences, adding the Alexandrite, the Citrine, the Tourmaline and the Zircon

In 2002, AGTA (American Gem Trade Association) added Tanzanite as a birthstone of December and it was during the last year, in 2016, that the Spinel was included to the list as the birthstone of August.

Obviously, we cannot ignore the commercial background and the marketing campaigns behind all this, comparable to what happens with Valentine's Day, Mother's Day or the use of diamonds as an engagement gift, synonymous with eternal love. But in the case of birthstones, we find stories that speak of distant times, where man embraced his beliefs, superstitions, myths and legends; where gems were endowed with healing, beneficial and therapeutic powers, which are still believed even today. And all this, we must not forget, is our history.

The current listing of gemstones for birth months is as follows:

rodolita granate
January
Garnet
amatista
February
Amethyst
aguamarina
March
Aquamarine
diamante
April
Diamond
Esmeralda
May
Emerald
Perla
June
Pearl
Alexandrite
rubí
July
Ruby
peridoto
August
Peridot
Spinel
Zafiro
September
Sapphire
Turmalina
Octuber
Tourmaline
Opal
topacio
November
Topaz
Citrine
Tanzanita
December
Tanzanite
Zircon
Turquoise

    The list of gemstones according to the zodiac sign is as follows:

    • Zodiac stone for Aquarius January 21 - February 18: Garnet
    • Zodiac stone for Pisces February 19 - March 20: Amethyst
    • Zodiac stone for Aries March 21- April 20: Bloodstone
    • Zodiac stone for Taurus April 21 - May 21: Sapphire
    • Zodiac stone for Gemini May 22 - June 21: Agate
    • Zodiac stone for Cancer June 22 - July 22: Emerald
    • Zodiac stone for Leo July 23 - August 23: Onyx
    • Zodiac stone for Virgo August 24 - September 22: Carnelian
    • Zodiac stone for Libra September 23 - October 23: Chrysolite (Greenish stone that normally refers to Peridot)
    • Zodiac stone for Scorpio October 24 - November 22: Beryl
    • Zodiac stone for Sagittarius November 23 - December 21: Citrine
    • Zodiac stone for Capricorn December 22 - January 20: Ruby


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