From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
(Redirected from Birthstones)

Some common monthly birthstones

A birthstone is a gemstone that represents a person's period of birth, which is usually the month or zodiac sign. Birthstones are often worn as jewelry or as a pendant necklace.

History of birthstones[edit]

Western custom[edit]

The first-century historian Josephus believed there was a connection between the twelve stones in Aaron's breastplate (signifying the tribes of Israel, as described in the Book of Exodus), the twelve months of the year, and the twelve signs of the zodiac.[1]: 275–306  Translations and interpretations of the passage in Exodus regarding the breastplate have varied widely, with Josephus himself giving two different lists for the twelve stones.[2]: 130–131  George Frederick Kunz argues that Josephus saw the breastplate of the Second Temple, not the one described in Exodus. St. Jerome, referencing Josephus, said the Foundation Stones of the New Jerusalem (Revelation 21:19–20) would be appropriate for Christians.[3]: 294 

In the eighth and ninth centuries, religious treatises associating a particular stone with an apostle were written so that "their name would be inscribed on the Foundation Stones, and his virtue."[3]: 299  Practice became to keep twelve stones and wear one a month.[3]: 298  The custom of wearing a single birthstone is only a few centuries old, though modern authorities differ on dates. Kunz places the custom in eighteenth-century Poland, while the Gemological Institute of America starts it in Germany in the 1560s.[3]: 293 

Recreation of the high priest's breastplate in front of the central Sephardic synagogue in Ramat Gan, Israel

Modern lists of birthstones have little to do with either the breastplate or the Foundation Stones of Christianity. Tastes, customs and confusing translations have distanced them from their historical origins,[3]: 310  with one author calling the 1912 Kansas list (see below) "nothing but a piece of unfounded salesmanship."[2]: 132 

Some poems match each month of the Gregorian calendar with a birthstone. These are traditional stones of English-speaking societies. Tiffany & Co. published these poems "of unknown author" for the first time in a pamphlet in 1870.[4]

Modern birthstones[edit]

In 1912, in an effort to standardize birthstones, the (American) National Association of Jewelers (now called Jewelers of America) met in Kansas and officially adopted a list.[1]: 317  The Jewelry Industry Council of America updated the list in 1952[3]: 311  by adding Alexandrite for June, citrine for November and pink tourmaline for October. They also replaced December's lapis with zircon and switched the primary/alternative gems for March. The American Gem Trade Association added tanzanite as a December birthstone in 2002.[5] In 2016, the American Gem Trade Association and Jewelers of America added spinel as an additional birthstone for August.[6] Britain's National Association of Goldsmiths created its own standardized list of birthstones in 1937.[7] In 2021, Japanese industry associations added ten new types of birthstones.[8]

Eastern tradition[edit]

Eastern culture recognizes a similar range of gemstones associated with birth, though rather than associating a gem with a birth month, gemstones are associated with celestial bodies. Astrology is employed to determine the gemstones most closely associated with and beneficial to a particular individual. For example, in Hinduism, there are nine gemstones associated with the Navagraha (celestial forces including the planets, the sun, and the moon), known in Sanskrit as Navaratna (nine gems). At birth, an astrological chart is calculated. Certain stones are recommended to be worn on the body to supposedly ward off potential problems based on the place of these forces in the sky at the exact place and time of birth.[9]

Birthstones by time frame[edit]

Month 15th–20th century[1]: 315  U.S. (1912)[1]: 319–320  UK (2013)[10] U.S. (2019)[11]
January garnet garnet garnet garnet
February amethyst, hyacinth, pearl amethyst amethyst amethyst
March bloodstone, jasper bloodstone, aquamarine aquamarine, bloodstone aquamarine, bloodstone
April diamond, sapphire diamond diamond, rock crystal diamond
May emerald, agate emerald emerald, chrysoprase emerald
June cat's eye, turquoise, agate pearl, moonstone pearl, moonstone pearl, moonstone, alexandrite
July turquoise, onyx ruby ruby, carnelian ruby
August sardonyx, carnelian, moonstone, topaz sardonyx, peridot peridot, sardonyx peridot, spinel, sardonyx
September chrysolite sapphire sapphire, lapis lazuli sapphire
October opal, aquamarine opal, tourmaline opal opal, tourmaline
November topaz, pearl topaz topaz, citrine topaz, citrine
December bloodstone, ruby turquoise, lapis lazuli tanzanite, turquoise turquoise, zircon, tanzanite


Tropical zodiac[edit]

Sign Dates[3]: 318  Stone[1]: 345–347 
Aries 21 March – 19 April bloodstone
Taurus 20 April – 20 May sapphire
Gemini 21 May – 20 June agate
Cancer 21 June – 22 July emerald
Leo 23 July – 22 August onyx
Virgo 23 August – 22 September carnelian
Libra 23 September – 22 October chrysolite
Scorpio 23 October – 21 November beryl
Sagittarius 22 November – 21 December topaz
Capricorn 22 December – 19 January ruby
Aquarius 20 January – 18 February garnet
Pisces 19 February – 20 March amethyst

Birthday (day of the week) stones[edit]

While the term "birthday stone" is sometimes used as a synonym for a birthstone, each day of the week is also assigned a unique gemstone, and these assignments are distinct from the monthly assignments.[1]

Day of the Week Stone(s)
Sunday topaz, diamond
Monday pearl, crystal
Tuesday ruby, emerald
Wednesday amethyst, lodestone
Thursday sapphire, carnelian
Friday emerald, cat's eye
Saturday turquoise, diamond


See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f Kunz, George F. (1913). The curious lore of precious stones. Lippincott.
  2. ^ a b Gleadow, Rupert (2001). The Origin of the Zodiac. Dover Publications. Retrieved 26 September 2023.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g Knuth, Bruce G. (2007). Gems in Myth, Legend and Lore (Revised ed.). Parachute: Jewelers Press.
  4. ^ Farrington, Oliver Cummins (1903). Gems and Gem Minerals. Mumford. pp. 63–64.
  5. ^ Grande, Lance; Augustyn, Allison (2009). Gems and Gemstones: Timeless Natural Beauty of the Mineral World. University of Chicago Press. p. 335. ISBN 978-0-226-30511-0.
  6. ^ National Jeweler Magazine, "JA, AGTA Add Spinel as August Birthstone"
  7. ^ Osborne, Harold, ed. (1985). The Oxford Companion to the Decorative Arts. Oxford University Press. p. 513. ISBN 978-0-19-281863-8.
  8. ^ 日本放送協会. 誕生石が新たに10種類増えます 63年ぶりに改定 加わったのは?. NHK (in Japanese). Retrieved 24 February 2023.
  9. ^ Johari, Harish (1986). The Healing Power of Gemstones: In Tantra, Ayurveda, and Astrology. Destiny Books. pp. 15–34.
  10. ^ "Tips & Tools: Birthstones". The National Association of Goldsmiths. Archived from the original on 28 May 2007. Retrieved 16 June 2014.
  11. ^ "Birthstones For Each Month". Gemological Institute of America. Retrieved 5 September 2023.

External links[edit]