What Does Your Birthstone Mean?

What Does Your Birthstone Mean?

For many people, the stone that correlates with their birth month is common knowledge. Those born in May know their birthstone is emerald, while those in September know theirs is sapphire. However, while many of us know which stone represents our birth month, few of us know why. To help give you some insight into the background of the birthstones, we are going to look at the origin and meaning of the birthstones.

Birthstones- gemstones tied to each month of the year- are thought to be an ancient concept, being traced back to early Jewish history. Many scholars have traced the origin of birthstones back to the Breastplate of Aaron, which was described in the biblical book of Exodus. First century Jewish historian, Josephus, thought the twelve stones in Aaron’s breastplate had a connection to the twelve months of the year and the twelve signs of the zodiac. The stones in the breastplate, which were meant to represent the twelve tribes of Israel, where sardius, topaz, carbuncle, emerald, sapphire, diamond, ligure, agate, amethyst, beryl, onyx, and jasper.

St. Jerome, a 5th century historian, would later expand on Josephus connection, proposing the idea that each gemstone held special powers associated with the corresponding astrological sign. The belief came about that wearing the birthstones in the correct month would have therapeutic or talismanic benefits. Due to this belief, many would own each of the 12 stones and wear the correct one during each astrological period. This practice is quite different from the modern concept of birthstones and can be more closely linked to the Vedic astrological tradition of India, where 9 different gemstones are assigned to the 9 planets and the particular gems are worn according to a person’s state of health and challenges in life.

The concept of wearing a gemstone connected to one’s month of birth developed much later, with scholars tracing back the idea to 18thcentury Poland, with the arrival of Jewish gem traders to the reigon. However, the modern list of birthstones was not formally defined until 1912 by the National Association of Jewelers in the USA. This list has largely remained the same since 1912, with only a few minor changes and additions over the years.

While today, we have mostly distanced ourselves for the belief in the magical or therapeutic powers behind the birthstones, some still believe in the meanings behind each stone and the magical forces behind them. Each stone has fabled properties that may bring benefits to those who wear them.

Since around the 15th century, garnet has remained the birthstone for January. Garnets are found in almost every color except blue, though it is traditionally seen in red hue. According to belief, garnets may prevent nightmares and snakebites, along with granting directional guidance in the dark. Wearers may also find they have an increased self-image, will power, and energy levels. Garnets are also likened to faith, love, and constancy.

For the month of February, amethyst, which comes in a variety of purple, has remained the connected birthstone. The fabled properties of amethyst include attributes of sobriety, tranquility, protection, and peace. It has also been connected with improvements in the skin and the prevention of baldness, along with protection from deceit.

March birthdays find themselves with two birthstones: bloodstone and aquamarine, which have remained the prescribed birthstones since 1912. Although they are both recognized as birthstones, the green-blue aquamarine stone is the more popular choice. Aquamarines are thought to represent good health, youth, love, and hope. It is also fabled that wearing this gem may build courage, increase happiness, and reawaken married love. Bloodstones, a deep green stone with small red specks, are thought to be calming, centering stones. They are also said to bring courage and renewal of the mental, physical, and emotional states.

While during the 18th century, diamond and sapphire were recognized as April birthstones, only diamond has remained its connection to the month. Though diamonds come in a variety of colors, clear diamonds are traditionally used for birthstones. Diamonds are associated with eternal love, invincibility, and strength, They were also once believed to ward off insanity.

For May, emerald has remained the birthstone since the 18th century. As the name suggests, emeralds are rich, deep green in color. The fabled attributes of emeralds include health, faithfulness, fertility, and improved eyesight. They have also been associated with the ability to see into the future.

June has seen a few changes to birthstone since the 18th century. Initially, cat’s eye, turquoise and agate were all associated with June, but after 1912, pearl and moonstone became the noted birthstones for June. Both stones are available in hues of black, gray, chocolate, and the most popular, creamy-white. Both stones have been linked to the attributes of chastity, modesty, and successful, happy marriages.

Like June, July’s birthstone has also undergone some changes. During the 18th century, July was associated with turquoise and onyz, but later changed to ruby after the 1912 list. Rubies, deep red in color, have fabled attributes of harmony, peace, and protection. Wearers of rubies are thought to attract good luck and good friends.

Today, August is connected to the birthstone peridot, though the 1912 list also included sardonyx. Peridot is a bright green stone and has been thought to protect the wearers from evil, depression, and bad dreams.

Since 1912, September’s birthstone has been sapphire, which come in a variety of colors. Sapphires are believe to be linked to faith, purity, wisdom, dignity, and loyalty. It is also thought that the stronger the sparkle of the gem, the more faithful and honest the wearer.

October is another month with two birthstones: opal and tourmaline. Opals typically come in an iridescent white, but can also be found in yellow, red, blue, and black hues. Tourmaline is commonly found in black, but can range in color as well. The fabled attributes of opals and tourmaline include hope, creativity, innocence, and friendship. Due to their connection to friendship, they are believed to protect the wearer from envious and mean-spirited people.

Both topaz and citrine are connected with the month of November. Citrine is yellow in color, while topaz ranges in colors, but is traditionally found in a yellow hue for the birthstone. These stones are said to represent strength and healing in both the body and mind.

Of all the months, December has seen the most changes in birthstone. During the 18th century, bloodstones and rubies were used to represent December. In 1912, turquoise and lapis were the given stone for December. Today, turquoise, zircon, and tanzanite are all listed as birthstones for the month of December. Turquoise and tanzanite can both come in bluish colors, while zircon comes in a variety of colors. These stones are thought to be associated with happiness, fortune, and luck.