Birthstone Lore


 

Birthstone Lore

By: Rachael Stone

Most experts are unable to agree on where stones were adopted from or initially began to be used for any given month. There are historians that think that this practice originally began over 4500 years ago with Sumerians or Egyptians that carried stones as amulets. They did this after a consultation with astrologers who acquired magical powers that were associated with certain stones. The time of an individual's birth and the relationship to the properties and movement assigned to planets is what determined the color stone that should be worn to protect against sickness and suffering. The stones were also thought to have magical abilities that would attract good fortune.

The Western birthstone system probably originated out of the writings of two early authors. They were Josephus (writing in the first century AD) and St. Jerome (writing during the fifth century AD). Both of them trace the custom of wearing certain types of gems to the stones that stood for the 12 tribes of Israel. They also made a connection between the 12 zodiac signs and the 12 months in the year that were shown an the Breastplate of the Hebrew High Priest's. The breastplate was originally said to be worn by Aaron, the brother of Moses (as referred to in Exodus 28:15-20).

One example of the stones mentioned in this system follows:

+ Stone 1 - Aries was represented by Carnelian

+ Stone 2 - Taurus has been symbolized using Peridot

+ Stone 3 - Gemini was regarded to use Emerald

+ Stone 4 - Cancer was demonstrated by Ruby

+ Stone 5 - Leo used the gemstone Lapis Lazuli

+ Stone 6 - Virgo has been associated with Onyx

+ Stone 7 - Libra used beautiful Sapphire

+ Stone 8 - Scorpio was represented by Agate

+ Stone 9 - Sagittarius was symbolized by Sapphire

+ Stone 10 - Capricorn was shown with Yellow Topaz (Citrine)

+ Stone 11 - Aquarius was displayed by Beryl

+ Stone 12 - Pisces was exhibited by Jasper

The stones that have been associated with each month have changed frequently throughout the years. One reason is that the actual identification of gemstones has been haphazard and was often based on the description of the color, not the actual mineral composition of the stone. This led to confusion between gems like garnet and ruby.

Even today, historians argue over exactly what stones appeared on the breastplate, depending on which translation of the Bible is consulted. The custom of wearing birthstones eventually began to die after the mid-1500's in Europe, but some sources indicate that the custom was revived again in Poland during the 18th century.

As the early movement of Christianity begins to spread throughout pagan lands, a transition from stones that were linked with star signs, planets, and astrological signs that were chosen for specific months began. The church worked to do away with the influence of astrology, particularly among pagan converts and began to link the stones with the 12 apostles. Sometime thereafter, a belief that all people born in a certain month became wards of a specific guardian angel arose where specific gems were assigned to each angel, adding to existing birthstone lore.

The American National Association of jewelers officially adopted the most common list of birthstones in 1912 to help with jewelry sales. This is generally the list of birthstones referred to in the US. Once people become interested in wearing birthstones again, less costly gemstones were specified as alternatives for some of the very rare gems. These alternates were chosen because the color is very close to the original stone on the list.

Even the official list provides a great deal of leeway for several of the months. As an example, a person that is born in the month of June can choose pearl, moonstone, or alexandrite, and an individual with a March birthday can choose either bloodstone or aquamarine. Tanzanite was added as an alternative for December by the American Gem Trade Association in October of 2002, but was virtually unknown when the original list was compiled.

You can also choose your birth gemstones by colors as follows:

* January -- Dark Red

* February -- Purple

* March -- Pale Blue

* April -- Clear

* May -- Bright Green

* June -- Cream

* July -- Bright Red

* August -- Pale Green

* September -- Deep Blue

* October -- Variegated

* November -- Yellow

* December -- Sky Blue

If you find you don't like the stone for your birth month, you can also choose a birthstone based on the day of the week you were born on. Stones that correspond include:

* Sunday - Topaz (any color)

* Monday - Pearl

* Tuesday - Ruby

* Wednesday - Amethyst

* Thursday - Sapphire

* Friday - Carnelian

* Saturday - Turquoise

Cheaper stones like Swarovski crystals in the color of a gemstone let almost anyone afford to wear a stone that simulates the color of the gem assigned to their birth month or day.

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 Gemstones
Agate
Alexandrite
Amber
Amethyst
Ametrine
Ammonite, Ammolite
Apatite
Aquamarine
Aventurine
Beryl
Carnelian
Chalcedony
Chrysoberyl
Citrine
Coral
Diaspore
Diopside
Emerald
Flourite
Garnet
Iolite
Jade
Jasper
Konerupine
Kunzite
Kyanite
Labradorite
Lapis
Malachite
Moissanite
Moldavite
Moonstone
Morganite
Obsidian
Onyx
Opal
Pearl
Peridot
Quartz
Rough, Specimen
Ruby
Sapphire
Sphene, Titanite
Spinel
Sunstone
Tanzanite
Topaz
Tourmaline
Turquoise
Zircon
Mixed Lots
Vintage
Other
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