Jan 1, 2009 My first New Years resolution was to start a blog! One that offers information and stories related to jewelry. I will follow this up by monthly posts. Happy reading and please respond with your comments!
One of the most frequent questions I get is “what’s my birthstone” or “why is my birthdate a diamond”. My 12 year old daughter reminds me incessantly that she is born in April and therefore should receive gifts of diamonds, that is MANY diamonds!
So where do birthstones come from? This goes way back to biblical times, apparently. It is stated (Exod 28:15-29), in describing the garments to be worn by the high priest in Jerusalem, that a breastplate shall be worn, made of beautifully woven material with twelve precious stones in four rows of three. Each stone symbolizes one of the 12 tribes of Israel. Different sources and different translations are not in agreement about the exact nature of the precious stone at each placement on the breast plate, but I like the picture of the high priest at the following website: http://www.bible-history.com/tabernacle/TAB4The_Priestly_Garments.htm
Here you can click on the stone and find out which tribe is represented and what the possible translation from the ancient Hebrew might be in todays gems. Thus the stone in the left upper corner (facing the breastplate) is likely an emerald representing the Zebulun tribe, etc. So if you know which tribe you come from, perhaps you need not search further!
In another biblical source, Revelation 21:19-20, the foundation stones of the new city of Jerusalem are listed, in the order of the Roman calendar:
19 And the foundations of the wall of the city were garnished with all manner of precious stones. The first foundation was jasper; the second, sapphire; the third, a chalcedony; the fourth, an emerald;
20 The fifth, sardonyx; the sixth, sardius; the seventh, chrysolyte; the eighth, beryl; the ninth, a topaz; the tenth, a chrysoprasus; the eleventh, a jacinth; the twelfth, an amethyst.
But these don’t all match up with the stones on the breastplate or with our currently used birthstone lists.
To complicate things there is also a “Mystical” birthstone list of Tibetan origin and a “Ayurvedic” Birthstone list from Ayurvedic Indian Medicine. And you can find more from different cultures in The Curious Lore of Precious Stones by George Frederick Kunz.
It was only in the 18th century that wearing your birthstone became customary. This seems to have originated in Poland and perhaps the rabbis and Hebrew gem traders had something to do with this along with the healing powers attributed to the various stones. For more visit this site:
A common list of birthstones used today in the US is
January: Garnet, symbolizing a light and loyal heart, lasting affection
February: Amethyst, sexy and sensitive, Cleopatra’s royal ring
March: Aquamarine, soothsayer’s stone, bloodstone, martyr’s stone
April: Diamond , symbolizing power of love
May: Emerald, green stone of protection
June: Pearl, Moonstone, Alexandrite, all moon and sea stones
July: Ruby, symbolizing the essence of life (the most highly prized gem)
August: Peridot, stone of the sun, Sardonyx enhancing intelligence
September: Sapphire, purity of the soul
October: Opal, the gem of gems, Tourmaline, stone of inspiration
November: Topaz, stone of royalty (Sanskrit for fire), Citrine, stone of youth, hope and health
December: Tanzanite, stone of birth & renewal,Turquoise stone of luck, Zircon, stone of travel
But there are many other lists! I am a Cancer (July) but I do not care much for wearing rubies. Not to worry. I found all of these other stones under my sign: Emerald, Moonstone, Pearl, Agate, Chalcedony. So if you are worried about too few choices, visit this site to get some ideas: http://www.starlightastrology.com/starstones.htm
You can use your lucky charm stone, your guardian angel stone, your Zodiac sign stone, your favorite apostle gemstone, your day of the week birthstone.
M A I D S T O N E J E W E L R Y
East Hampton, NY 11937
631 379 2200