What is a birthstone?
A birthstone is a gemstone which has been designated to a specific month of the year, in some cases, there are multiple gemstones which can belong to one specific month; your birth month determines which gemstones apply to you. But a birthstone is more than that… it is a way for us to celebrate our birth into this world and our connection with the elements that gave us life.
Each of the twelve primary birthstones has distinct characteristics and qualities – just like we do – and wearing them reminds us of who we are and where we came from, as well as inspires us to be who we dream of being and to go to the places we dare to go.
Many historians tend to trace the concept of 12 birthstones back to Aaron’s Breastplate. During the 2nd millennium BCE, Aaron was the high priest of the Israelites and brother to Moses. On his ceremonial breastplate were 12 gemstones, each one representative of a tribe of Israel. The 1st century CE Jewish historian, Josephus, is responsible for connecting those stones to the 12 months of the year and the zodiac signs.
While this may be the genesis for our modern list of birthstones, the idea of relating a birthstone to astrological periods and celestial bodies goes back as far as 6,000 BCE to Egypt and the Indus Valley Civilization. Since then, every significant culture from the Hindus and Egyptians, to the Arabs and the Hebrews, as well as the Romans, Italians, Russians, and Polish, have kept lists of traditional birthstones.
Overall, there is such a vast range of birthstone options. Even in modern lists, such as the Jewelers of America (JA) 1912 birthstone chart, there are some months which have two or three birthstones, such as October (opal and tourmaline) and December (turquoise and lapis lazuli). Furthermore, the US list has been updated; lapis lazuli has been deleted from December; zircon and tanzanite have been added in its place. So, December actually has 3 birthstones… what a great month!
Moreover, the British keep a list that is sometimes a bit different. For example, they have added carnelian to a ruby as a July birthstone, chrysoprase to emerald for May, and rock crystal to a diamond for April.
And then there are the alternate gemstones: mystical, Ayurvedic, Arabic, Hebrew, Hindu, Italian, Polish, Roman, Russian, astrological, planetary, talismanic…the list seems to go on forever! But this gives you such a wealth of choices, and you certainly don’t have to choose just one. Get them all, you deserve it! And so do your loved ones.
For people who love gemstones, no gift is more thoughtful or more appreciated than a piece of birthstone jewelry.
September is one of my favorite months and features one of the most cherished gemstones – the sapphire! This gemstone shares a place of prominence throughout history and lore and has been attributed with a host of mystical powers and healing properties.
Sapphire is a great example to, again, illustrate the range of birthstone options. The September birthstone comes in an array of hues; from the traditional blue and colorless to the fancy colors – pink and purple, orange and yellow, green, black, etc. The most sought after fancy sapphire is the very rare padparadscha sapphire, a pinkish-orange sapphire named from the Sinhalese (a Sri Lankan language) for “aquatic lotus flower”.
Finding the right birthstone jewelry for you or a loved one starts with searching through loose gemstones, and this can be a challenge for the most seasoned pro, but at Gemselect we make it easy for you. Our website is very user-friendly and contains a wealth of gemstone information. Get started with our birthstone series and we’ll be here when you make a choice or need any more help. Happy hunting!
This month we look at the origin of birthstones, their history, spiritual meanings, and health benefits. Everyone has a chance to find their perfect birthstone with a link to our series of birthstone articles. We also link to all our new gemstone arrivals and some very interesting questions from customers. Have a great September!