Birthstone Origins: Stranger than Fiction

By: samserio
In the Old Testament, the book of Exodus tells the story of the Breastplate of Aaron, used in religious ceremonies. (Aaron...just in case you were absent from Sunday school that day...was the Biblical figure who performed, at Moses' direction, the miracles that confounded Pharaoh and his magicians.)

Aaron's breastplate was adorned with four rows of gemstones, three gemstones in each row, in the following pattern: Sardius, topaz, carbuncle; emerald, sapphire, diamond; ligure, agate, amethyst; beryl, onyx, jasper. These twelve gemstones represented the twelve tribes of Israel. The twelve positions were later co-opted by astologers who linked them to the twelve months of the calendar year and the twelve signs of the zodiac.

The Traditional Birthstone List contains these older birthstones and represents birthstone traditions heralding back to the 15th century. The Modern Birthstone List was created by the National Association of Jewelers in 1912 in Kansas City, Missouri. Gemstone purists complained that the NAJ list was devised solely for commercial purposes (they probably didn't believe in Santa Claus either!). As a result, astrologers who prescribed gems often substituted alternate or secondary stones. The Mystical Birthstone list below originated in from Tibet over a thousand years ago. The Ayurvedic Birthstone list is derived from age-old Ayurvedic Indian Medicine, a practice of native people for more than a century.

Month Modern Traditional Mystical Ayurverdic

January Garnet Garnet Emerald Garnet

February Amethyst Amethyst Amethyst Bloodstone

March Aquamarine Bloodstone Jade Bloodstone

April Diamond Diamond Opal Quartz

May Emerald Emerald Sapphire Agate

June Pearl Alexandrite Moonstone Pearl

July Ruby Ruby Ruby Ruby

August Peridot Sardonyx Diamond Sapphire

Sept. Sapphire Sapphire Agate Lapis Lazuli

October Opal Tourmaline Tourmaline Jasper

November Yellow Topaz Citrine Citrine Pearl

December Turquoise Lapis Lazuli Onyx Ruby

Astrologically speaking, your place on the Zodiac is more meaningful than your birth month for tapping into your "power," which has led to the creation of the following list of "Star Stones" related to the star under which you were born, rather than the day.

Capricorn (Dec. 22-Jan. 19) - Ruby, Agate, Garnet

Aquarius (Jan. 20-Feb. 18) - Garnet, Moss Agate, Opal,
Amethyst,

Pisces (Feb. 19-Mar. 20) - Rock Crystal, Sapphire, Amethyst, Bloodstone

Aries (Mar. 21-Apr. 19) - Bloodstone, Diamond

Taurus (Apr. 20-May 20) - Sapphire, Turquoise, Amber, Blood Coral, Emerald

Gemini (May 21-Jun. 20) - Agate, Chrysoprase, Pearl

Cancer (Jun. 21-Jul. 22) - Emerald, Moonstone, Pearl, Ruby

Leo (Jul. 23-Aug. 22) - Tourmaline, Sardonyx, Onyx

Virgo (Aug. 23-Sep. 22) - Jasper, Carnelian, Jade, Sapphire

Libra (Sep. 23-Oct. 22) - Opal, Lapis Lazuli, Peridot

Scorpio (Oct. 23-Nov. 21) - Aquamarine, Topaz

Sagittarius (Nov. 22-Dec. 21) - Sapphire, Amethyst, Turquoise, Topaz

So whether you choose an emerald from the Breastplate of Aaron, a moonstone from Tibet's mystical birthstone list, an opal for its ayurvedic birthstone properties, or your very own "star sign" representative...may the force (of the birthstone) be with you!
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