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Birthstones: Everyone Has One But What Are They?

Aug 29, 2007
Have you ever wondered what exactly is a birthstone and what do the stones signify? Briefly, birthstones are precious stones and gemstones that are associated with a particular month. There is a rich history behind the popular birthstones that people wear today in their rings, bracelets, pendants and other jewelry, and I would like to share that story with you.

Many scholars believe that earliest use of birthstones dates back to Biblical times and that the tradition arose from a description of a jewel-decorated ceremonial breastplate worn by Aaron, the brother of Moses. Mentioned in Exodus, this breastplate had 12 jewels, each one representing one of the tribes of Israel. Exodus cites the following stones on Aaron's breastplate: ruby, topaz, beryl, turquoise, sapphire, emerald, jacinth, agate, amethyst, chrysolite, onyx and a jasper.

The gemstones again appear in the Bible in the Book of Revelations ( 21:19-20 ) According to Revelations, the foundation stones of the New Jerusalem were adorned with precious stones and the stones were listed in the order of the Roman calendar. The stones mentioned in Revelations, in the order of months from one to twelve, were: jasper, chalcedony, emerald, sardonyx, sardius, chrysolyte, beryl, topaz, chrysoprasus, jacinth and amethyst.

The ancient designation of birthstones was not as precise as it is today, and popular names, rather than exact scientific names of minerals, were used so there is some debate about which stones were included in the ancient list and about the meaning of each particular stone.

In modern times, different cultures have adopted different birthstone lists. In the United States the American national association of jewelers published a standardized list in 1912. This list is also accepted in other countries. In addition to the 12 basic stones, for each month, there are additional stones which can be used as less expensive alternatives.

So if you have been interested in knowing what your birthstone is, here is the list with the alternative or alternatives in:

January: Garnet (Rose Quartz)
February: Amethyst (Onyx)
March: Aquamarine (Red Jasper, Bloodstone)
April: Diamond (Rock Crystal, Quartz)
May: Emerald (Chrysoprase)
June: Pearl,the only non-mineral (Alexandrite or Moonstone)
July: Ruby (Jade or Carnelian)
August: Peridot (Aventurine, Sardonyx, or Sapphire)
September: Sapphire (Lapis lazuli)
October: Opal (Pink Tourmaline)
November: Yellow Topaz (Citrine or Turquoise)
December: Blue Zircon (Turquoise, Lapis Lazuli or Tanzanite)

Tanzanite was added to December by the American Gem Trade Association in 2002, so it appears that the list is flexible.

Astrological Birthstones

The list which I have mentioned above goes according to the months of the year, but there is another birthstone list that corresponds to the sun signs of the tropical zodiac. In case you would like to get jewelry with your astrological birthstone, here is the list presented in the order of astrological sign, the dates for this sign, and the birthstone:

Aries (March 21 - April 19) Diamond
Taurus (April 20 - May 20) Emerald
Gemini (May 21 - June 20) Crystal
Cancer (June 21 - July 22) Pearl
Leo (July 23 - August 22) Ruby
Virgo (August 23 - September 22) Sapphire
Libra (September 23 - October 23) Opal
Scorpio (October 24 - November 21) Zircon
Sagittarius (November 22 - December 21) Turquoise
Capricorn (December 22 - January 21) Garnet
Aquarius (January 22 - February 18) Amethyst and moonstone
Pisces (February 19 - March 20) Aquamarine

Birthday Stones

Birthstones, as we have seen, generally correspond to the month of birth or to the astrological sun sign. However there is another list of stones that corresponds to the day of birth. Here is the list of stones associated with each of the seven days of the week:

Monday -- Pearl (the only non-gem)
Tuesday -- Garnet
Wednesday -- Cat's eye (Chatoyant Chrysoberyl)
Thursday -- Emerald
Friday -- Topaz
Saturday -- Sapphire
Sunday -- Ruby
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