The History Of Birthstones

Birthstones have always been associated with good health and good fortune.  But to really understand birthstones you have to go back some few thousand years... All the way back to Biblical Old Testament times.

Most scholars agree that the root idea of birthstones began in the book of Exodus (chapter 28) with the breastplate of Aaron:

"Fashion a breastpiece... Then mount four rows of precious stones on it.  In the first row there shall be a ruby, a topaz and a beryl; in the second row a turquoise, a sapphire and an emerald; in the third row a jacinth, an agate and an amethyst; in the fourth row a chrysolite, an onyx and a jasper.  Mount them in gold filigree settings.  There are to be twelve stones, one for each of the names of the sons of Israel...”

One stone for each son of Israel.

Later, in the New Testament, Revelation 21 described  “The New Jerusalem” built on 12 foundations of precious gemstones. And it wasn’t long before each of the 12 apostles of Jesus were associated with specific gemstones in Christian tradition.

Then, later in the first century, Jewish historian Flavius Josephus documented the link between the 12 tribes of Israel, 12 months of the year, and the 12 zodiac signs. This helped lead to the tradition of wearing a specific gemstone for each specific month.  Many people owned 12 gemstones and wore a different one every month.


Wearing only one gemstone corresponding to your birth month is a modern idea.

Most scholars believe the tradition of wearing the one birthstone from your birth month was invented by Jewish gem traders who arrived in Poland in the eighteenth century.  But even at this time, birthstone lists were constantly changing according to different cultures and what gemstones were readily available.

It wasn’t until the early 1900’s that there was an an effort to standardize the birthstone list. The modern birthstone list was created in 1912 by the American National Association of Jewelers. This is the birthstone list that we still use today (with only a few minor changes).

To this day, people are fascinated with the idea that their personality and spirit are tied to a specific gemstone.  But what if you don’t like the gemstone for your month?

Here’s the truth about birthstones...

You can pick another one!  As described above... the birthstone list we use today is a relatively new invention.  Birthstone lists have changed so many times, over thousands of years, that almost every gemstone has been associated with any given month at one time or another.

Unique pieces of jewelry have a personality, or a “spirit,” or a “feel.”

You choose certain pieces of jewelry because they uniquely reflect and enhance your personality and presence.

You can, and should, choose a gemstone that uniquely reflects you.