Long ago my mother got for their anniversary a ring from my father, with 12 little round gemstones. My father explained that she could wear this ring and change the gems when she pleases. The gemstones represented the birthstones and he told her ‘it’s all about the birthstone and you’. You can only wear the birthstone of your birth month or you wear it every month another birthstone. Just where you feel comfortable.
This little family story shows how confusing ‘birthstones’ are and what they represent and how strict you have to take the birthstones in combination with the birth months. Besides that… it’s great to know a little about birthstones because they make awesome personal gifts. When you give a piece of jewelry with a gemstone that is the birthstone of the lady, you will make a great impression. You took the trouble to find out, searched for a great piece of jewelry for her. That will impress her!
In Poland/Europe, you don’t give a lady a piece of jewelry with her birthstone, but she will collect all the birthstones and wears them in the appropriate month.
But let me explain a little more about birthstones, their origin, and their meaning.
The tradition of the birthstone
Birthstones are precious or semi-precious gemstones, but what they represent is a cause of disagreement. It can represent a month, a date, a color, a sign of the zodiac, a day in the week… And there are quite a few birthstone lists to choose from. The thing we know rather sure is that the popularity of wearing birthstones started between the 15th and the 16th century in Europe.
The gemmologists think that the concept of the birthstone gems dates back to the Bible and the breastplate of Highpriest Aaron, the brother of Moses, the prophet, and the first High Priest of the Israelites. That breastplate had 12 gemstones that are described in the Bible. In the Bible is written that those twelve stones represent the 12 sons of Jacob, and each of them started a tribe in Israel.
It is also stated that the sons were all born in a different month and therefore the 12 stones should represent each a different month. Then every stone has a different color, but in the translation from the local language at the time of the Bible to Hebrew, to Greek and Roman, the real ‘color names’ got a bit lost. And every scientist had their own interpretation. The result was that the information about the precise gemstones and their place in the breastplate got lost.
The Western interpretation of the birthstone list
In 1912 the American National Association of Jewelers created a modern Birthstone list and on this list every month had their own birthstone (or sometimes even 2 or 3 gemstones). Although a lot of people had comments about the choices in gemstones the Association made, this list is regarded as the definitive chart of the astrological birthstones.
On this list, the garnet is the birthstone for January and it is believed that the garnet keeps you safe during travels. February’s birthstone is the amethyst, which should make the bearer courageous and keeps her or him from drunkenness. The aquamarine is the birthstone of March and this gemstone is associated with ‘healing powers’. And April has the most popular birthstone ‘the diamond’, the symbol of love.
The month of May is the month of the birthstone emerald, also a symbol of love and the pearl represents the birthstone of June, the symbol of purity. I have my birthday in July, so I am blessed with ruby, which should ward off evil. The peridot is the birthstone of August and is also called the ‘evening emerald’.
I am a bit jealous of the ones who are born in September and got the sapphire as their birthstone. I love this gemstone and it should guard you against evil and poisoning. In October you got the opal as your birthstone and the opal represents faithfulness and confidence. The birthstone of November is the topaz, for love and affection. And the birthstone of December, the turquoise, gives you luck and success.
And that is not all! I wrote an e-book about birthstones, with information about the color, the healing capacities, where to find them, and more. It is free and you just have to let me know where I can send it to.
Hug, Florence from FlorenceJewelshop