Quick Overview of Birthstones

Ah birthstones! A very interesting topic to cover this week. Everyone is usually made aware of their birthstones when they are young. Whether you saw it in a magazine or your friends told you it was very exciting and you wanted to instantly know what your stone was. But did you know that the birthstone come from a very different concept.

scholars trace the idea of birthstones all the way back to the Breastplate of Aaron that was described in the book of Exodus in the Bible. His plate had 12 stones one for each of the tribes in Israel. The picture below is a statue of Aaron and his breastplate.

However, the correlation between stone and months wasn’t made until later. 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. They proposed that each stone had a property and should we worn during the corresponding time of the year. The idea was that wearing these stones during their time would release therapeutic and healing powers. In theory everyone should have a set of all the 12 stones and use them during the year.

Yet the modern list of birthstones was not defined until 1912, by the National Association of Jewelers (Jewelers of America) in the USA.The modern birthstone list has been unchanged since 1912. Only recently have we seen two attempts to change it, both curiously associated with the gemstone tanzanite.

In 2002 the American Gem Trade Association (AGTA) announced that they had added tanzanite as a birthstone for December, although December already had two birthstones (turquoise and zircon). In February 2006, TanzaniteOne Ltd., the aspiring tanzanite cartel, announced a marketing strategy to make tanzanite a birthstone that went above and beyond. They wanted every child to have their stone regardless of month.