Where Did The Tradition Of Birthstones Begin

In any relationship, it's important to express how much you appreciate and adore each other. It's said that actions speak louder than words, but as far as expressing appreciation and adoration is concerned, giving meaningful gifts speaks volumes. 

For any gift to be meaningful, one must know what it means and its significance. Regrettably, most people know about their zodiac signs, but when asked, "what is your birthstone?" most people don't usually know the answer. 

Before giving birthstones out as gifts, it would be best to know what they are and their significance. This blog post explains when, why, where, and how the world started using birthstones. First things first –

What are Birthstones?

Birthstones are a set of 12 gems with a unique meaning and significance. There is one gem for each month of the year, and you're supposed to wear your birthstone all year long to celebrate your birth month. The following are the twelve birthstones, the months they represent, and their meanings:

  • Garnet: This is a deep reddish-brown gemstone that represents the month of January. While garnets are commonly red, they also come in a range of beautiful colors, including purple, yellow, orange, and vibrant green. The garnet birthstone is considered a lucky stone for love and success. It's also believed to keep the wearer safe during travel.
  • Amethyst: This gem is purple in color, and it represents the month of February. It symbolizes royalty and is thought to strengthen relationships and give the wearer courage.
  • Aquamarine: Representing the month of March is this blue gem that gets its name from its seawater blue color. It symbolizes purity, and it's a lucky gemstone for sailors to protect them against turbulent seas.
  • Diamond: This is the hardest, strongest, and the most popular of the 12 gemstones. Those born in April get to claim this sparkling gem as their own. It symbolizes everlasting love, commitment, and romance. 
  • Emerald: This is a bright green gemstone that is said to be one of Cleopatra's favorite gems. It represents the month of May and is said to symbolize fertility, rebirth, and life. 
  • Pearl: This is another popular gemstone outside the realm of birthstone culture. It represents the month of June, and it has long been a symbol of purity.
  • Ruby: This is July's birthstone, and it's one of the rarest and costliest gemstones in the world.  It is fondly referred to as "the king of gems" as it symbolizes many things, including love, wisdom, and health. Wearing a ruby is also believed to bring good luck.
  • Peridot: Also referred to as the evening emerald, this light green gem represents the month of August. It's the gem for the traditional 16th wedding anniversary, and it is believed to protect the wearer from nightmares. 
  • Sapphire: This is a rich blue gemstone representing the month of September. Like February's Amethyst, Sapphire symbolizes royalty. Historically kings and queens wore Sapphire to protect themselves against treachery and poison.
  • Opal: This is considered the most magical of the 12 gemstones as it has all the colors of all the other gemstones. It symbolizes confidence and faithfulness, and it was traditionally worn to protect the wearer's eyesight.  
  • Citrine: This is a gold-colored gemstone that represents the month of November. It symbolizes love and affection, and it's said to give the wearer increased intellect and strength.
  •  Turquoise: Last but definitely not least is this beautiful gemstone with different colors. The gem is considered a love charm, and it symbolizes success and good fortune. 

Note that certain months have more than one birthstone. They include March, June, and December, whose alternate birthstones are bloodstone, moonstone, and tanzanite, respectively.

When Did People Start Using Birthstones?

Both Western and Eastern cultures have different theories about how birthstones came to be. According to the Western culture, birthstones originated from a story in the holy bible, specifically the book of Exodus. 

More than 3,300 years ago, Aaron, the first high priest of the Hebrews, astounded his followers with a dazzling breastplate designed with 12 gemstones representing Israel's twelve tribes.  The stones were set in four rows of three to highlight the unique attributes of each tribe. The stones were laid out in four rows as follows:

  • Sardius (Ruby), Topaz, and Carbuncle (Garnet)
  • Emerald, Sapphire, and Diamond
  • Ligure, Agate, and Amethyst
  • Beryl, Onyx, and Jasper

Some of the above original stones used in Aaron's breastplate differ from those used today, depending on the translation. The stones were not standardized until the 18th or 19th century. 

In Eastern culture, birthstones are more closely associated with astrology and the zodiac signs. For instance, the Hindu tradition creates an astrological chart for each at the time of his/her birth. It comprises of constellations, the moon, the sun, and the planets. This astrological chart suggests the exact gemstones that a person should wear to safeguard him/herself throughout life. 

Later, the above twelve stones were linked to the twelve signs of the zodiac. In due course, they became linked to the twelve months of the calendar year. 

Why do People Wear Birthstones?

People have worn birthstones for many reasons over the centuries. Here are the five main reasons why people wear these precious gems:

1. For Healing

Many gem therapists believe that gemstones possess healing properties to alleviate physical, mental, and spiritual blockages. They believe that placing certain gemstones on certain parts of the body helps connect a person to the planet's healing energy. 

2. For Protection

Certain birthstones are also believed to protect the wearer against specific dangers. For example, the aquamarine gem is believed to protect the wearer against ocean dangers, while the peridot gem is said to offer protection against nightmares. 

3. For Bringing Good Luck

It's widely believed that wearing certain types of birthstones can bring success and good luck. For instance, January's garnet stone is considered a lucky stone. Note that good luck is neither magic, nor does it guarantee to change your life instantly. Instead, wearing such a birthstone is believed to provide the wearer with inner strength and offer guidance that leads to success.

4. For Meditation

Gem therapists also believe that birthstones are highly useful in cleansing and neutralizing the wearer's internal conflicts and negative energy and turning them into positive energy. Meditating while holding your birthstone is believed to minimize anxiety and release stress. 

5. For Complementing Your Look

In addition to their magical powers, birthstones are a real beauty. Their vibrant color and dazzling shades make them an excellent jewelry option to accessories any outfit. They can instantly inject style and class to any look. 

How Birthstones are Used in Jewelry Today

Today, you'll commonly see birthstones in a wide range of jewelry pieces, including rings, earrings, necklaces, and bracelets. Jewelry pieces that have a loved one's birthstone are popular because many people love to wear beautiful and meaningful jewelry.  

Come design a meaningful ring using your birthstone or the birthstone of a loved one. Staghead Designs can customize your birthstone in nearly any design you'd like.


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