Historically Speaking… What are Birthstones?

Birthstone Pendant Jewelry

The Hype

Birthstones, as we know them, are a relatively modern creation. In 1912 the National Association of Jewelers (USA) created the list we now use. They assigned a gemstone to each birth month, for your shopping pleasure. In their defense, the list is loosely based on ancient history.

The History

Birthstones can be traced back to stories in the Bible. According to the Book of Exodus, twelve gemstones representing the Twelve Tribes of Israel were set into the breastplate of Aaron, a high priest.

Years (or maybe centuries) later, twelve gemstones were linked to the twelve astrological signs by color. These stones were believed to have special powers if worn during the corresponding time in the astrological calendar.

The modern idea that you should always wear a stone corresponding to your birth month, was born during 18th century. This is the basis for the 1912 list. Today, it is believed by many that wearing birthstone jewelry brings good luck.

The List

Here are the modern (traditional) birthstones for each month and the alternate birthstones. The list was updated in 2002 to include tanzanite, which was discovered in 1967, as a December birthstone.

Chart of Birthstones


Birthstone Jewelry

Popular birthstone jewelry includes single stone rings or pendants, as well as bracelets and necklaces with the traditional stones, alternate stones, or a combination of both. I guess combining stones could give you extra good luck!
Gemstone Pendants

An increasing popular way to include birthstone color into your jewelry is through crystals. Swarovski brand crystals are created in colors that correspond to stones on the birthstone list. Add crystal “charms” to your bracelets, pendants, or earrings to represent your children or grandchildren. Gifts of jewelry are often presented by a brides to her bridesmaids in crystal birthstone colors. Crystal birthstone jewelry can be less expensive than gemstones, a plus for a bride who is working within a wedding budget.

Lotus birthstone necklaces

Comment and Subscribe

Do you wear birthstone jewelry and if so, has it brought you good luck? 

I’d love to hear your story.

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