Birthstones: What Does Yours Mean?

A brief history: The linking of a particular gem stone with a month of the year can be traced back to ancient times. The earliest association of twelve stone with the months of the year appears to have originated with the twelve precious stones in the breastplate of Aaron. These twelve gems represented the twelve tribes of Israel. They were also the foundation stones for each of the twelve apostles in the temple of the New Jerusalem.

Later the twelve gems were linked with the twelve signs of the zodiac and thus came to be associated with the months of the year. In the first century A.D. the historian Flavius Josephus traced the connection between the breastplate, the twelve months of the year, and the zodiac signs and wrote: "And for the twelve stones, whether we understand by them the months or the twelve signs of what the Greeks call the zodiac, we shall not be mistaken in their meaning."

While an astrologer convinced Elizabeth I of England and Mary, Queen of Scots that pearls were unlucky for them, Henry VIII was persuaded in the opposite direction concerning rubies! Generally speaking, gem stones symbolize positive, healing qualities. Certainly this is true of birthstones.

At first all twelve stones were worn in rotation by the same person in the belief that this was the way to ensure maximum benefit from each stone's qualities. For instance, Catherine de Medici wore a girdle set with twelve stone to derive the utmost benefit. The actual wearing of the birthstone appropriate for one's month of birth, however, is believed to have originated in the eighteenth century in Poland when gem traders settled there.

Gradually -- and as lapidary arts and skills improved -- birthstones have come to be appreciated more for their beauty rather than any supposed mystical powers. Over the years the lists of birthstones have varied slightly, but the following is the official one adopted by the jewelers in the United States:

Click on your birth month to get more information on your birthstone.

Month Stone Significance
January Garnet Constancy
February Amethyst Sincerity
March Aquamarine or Bloodstone Courage
April Diamond Innocence
May Emerald Love
June Pearl, Alexandrite, or Moonstone Health
July Ruby or Star Ruby Contentment
August Peridot or Sardonyx Married Happiness
September Sapphire and Star Sapphire Clear Thinking
October Opal or Tourmaline Hope
November Topaz Fidelity
December Turquoise, Blue Zircon or Tanzanite Prosperity

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