How Birthstones Came to Be
Have you ever wondered how birthstones came to be? Full of history and folklore, birthstones are designated to mark birthdays in each month. It's common to give and receive birthstone gifts for birthdays, and many couples even include birthstones in their bridal set or anniversary jewelry.
Birthstones, gemstones assigned to each month of the year, have been traced back to ancient times. The Breastplate of Aaron that was described in the book of Exodus in the Bible was a religious garment set with twelve gemstones that represented the twelve tribes of Israel. The gems were arranged on the breastplate in four rows of three: Sardius, topaz and carbuncle; emerald, sapphire and diamond; ligure, agate and amethyst; and beryl, onyx and jasper.
The writings of Flavius Josephus (1st century AD) and St. Jerome (5th century AD) made the connection between the 12 stones in the Breastplate and the 12 signs of the zodiac. It was proposed that each of the gemstones that represented the twelve tribes of Israel had special powers associated with the corresponding astrological sign, and that wearing these stones at the right time would have therapeutic or magical benefits. Thus, the idea of birthstones were born.
Birthstones still weren't popular until 1912 when the National Association of Jewelers (also known as Jewelers of America) set a modern list of birthstones and began to set the trend that people wear a specific gemstone that corresponded to the month of their birth.
The list of birthstones set by the National Association of Jewelers has not been changed since 1912— with one exception. In 2002 the American Gem Trade Association (AGTA) announced that they had added tanzanite as a third birthstone for December, though December already had two birthstones, turquoise and zircon). The Jewelers of America recognized the move, though the addition misses the mark of the purported magical powers of the original astrological gemstones.
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