Birthstone

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A birthstone is a gemstone that represents a person's month of birth. Birthstones are often worn as jewelry and as pendants.

Some Common Birthstones

History of birthstones[edit]

Western custom[edit]

The first century Jewish historian Josephus believed there was a connection between the twelve stones in Aaron's breastplate (as described in the Book of Exodus) the twelve months of the year, and the twelve signs of the zodiac.[1] Translations and interpretations of the passage in Exodus regarding the breastplate have varied widely, however, with Josephus himself giving two different lists for the twelve stones.[2] George 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 to use.[3]

In the eighth and ninth century, religious treatises associating a particular stone with an apostle were written because, as the book of Revelation states "their name would be inscribed on the Foundation Stones, and his virtue".[4] Practice became to keep twelve stones and wear one a month.[5] Wearing a single birthstone is only a few centuries old, although 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.[6]

Recreation of the Original Breastplate in Front of the Central Sephardic

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,[7] with one author calling the 1912 Kansas list "nothing but a piece of unfounded salesmanship."[8]

Traditional birthstones[edit]

Ancient traditional birthstones are society-based birthstones. The table below contains many stones which are popular choices, often reflecting Polish tradition.[9]

The Gregorian calendar has poems matching each month with its 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.[10]

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.[11] The Jewelry Industry Council of America updated the list in 1952[12] by adding alexandrite to June and citrine to November; specifying pink tourmaline for October; replacing December's lapis with zircon; and switching the primary/alternative gems in March. The American Gem Trade Association added tanzanite as a December birthstone in 2002.[13] In 2016, the American Gem Trade Association and Jewelers of America added spinel as an additional birthstone for August. [14] Britain's National Association of Goldsmiths created their own standardized list of birthstones in 1937.[15]

Eastern custom[edit]

A Hindu text from 1879, Mani Mala, lists gems for each month.[16]

Birthstones by cultures[edit]

Month 15th- 20th century[17] U.S. (1912)[18] U.S. (2016) Britain (2013)[19] Hindu[20]
January garnet garnet garnet garnet serpent stone
February amethyst, hyacinth, pearl amethyst amethyst amethyst chandrakanta
March bloodstone, jasper bloodstone, aquamarine aquamarine, bloodstone aquamarine, bloodstone Gold Siva-linga
April diamond, sapphire diamond diamond diamond, rock crystal diamond
May emerald, agate emerald emerald emerald, chrysoprase emerald
June cat's eye, turquoise, agate pearl, moonstone pearl, moonstone, alexandrite pearl, moonstone pearl
July turquoise, onyx ruby ruby ruby, carnelian sapphire
August sardonyx, carnelian, moonstone, topaz sardonyx, peridot peridot, spinel peridot, sardonyx ruby
September chrysolite[disambiguation needed] sapphire sapphire sapphire, lapis lazuli zircon
October opal, aquamarine opal, tourmaline opal, tourmaline opal coral
November topaz, pearl topaz topaz, citrine topaz, citrine cat's-eye
December bloodstone, ruby turquoise, lapis lazuli turquoise, zircon, tanzanite tanzanite, turquoise topaz

Zodiacal[edit]

Tropical zodiac[edit]

Sign Dates[21] Stone[22]
Aquarius 21 January – 18 February garnet
Pisces 19 February – 20 March amethyst
Aries 21 March – 20 April bloodstone
Taurus 21 April – 21 May sapphire
Gemini 22 May – 21 June agate
Cancer 21 June – 22 July emerald
Leo 23 July – 22 August onyx
Virgo 23 August – 22 September carnelian
Libra 23 September – 23 October chrysolite
Scorpio 24 October – 21 November beryl
Sagittarius 22 November – 21 December topaz
Capricorn 22 December – 21 January ruby

Birthday (day of the week) stones[edit]

While the term "birthday stone" is sometimes used as a synonym for 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]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Kunz, George F. (1913). The curious lore of precious stones. Lippincott. pp. 275–306. 
  2. ^ Gleadow, Rupert (2001). The Origin of the Zodiac. Dover Publications. pp. 130–131. 
  3. ^ Knuth, Bruce G. (2007). Gems in Myth, Legend and Lore (Revised edition). Parachute: Jewelers Press. p. 294. 
  4. ^ Knuth, p. 299
  5. ^ Knuth, p. 298
  6. ^ Knuth, p. 293
  7. ^ Knuth, p. 310
  8. ^ Gleadow, p. 132
  9. ^ Kunz (1913), p. 320
  10. ^ Farrington, Oliver Cummins (1903). Gems and Gem Minerals. Mumford. pp. 63–64. 
  11. ^ Kunz (1913), p. 317
  12. ^ Knuth, p. 311
  13. ^ Grande, Lance; Augustyn, Allison (2009). Gems and Gemstones: Timeless Natural Beauty of the Mineral World. University of Chicago Press. p. 335. ISBN 0226305112. 
  14. ^ National Jeweler Magazine, "JA, AGTA Add Spinel as August Birthstone"
  15. ^ Osborne, Harold, ed. (1985). The Oxford Companion to the Decorative Arts. Oxford University Press. p. 513. ISBN 978-0192818638. 
  16. ^ Knuth, p. 336
  17. ^ Kunz (1913), p. 315
  18. ^ Kunz (1913), pp. 319-320
  19. ^ "Tips & Tools: Birthstones". The National Association of Goldsmiths. Retrieved 2014-06-16. 
  20. ^ Knuth, p. 336
  21. ^ Knuth, p. 318
  22. ^ Kunz (1913), pp. 345–347

External links[edit]