Each month we are featuring the birthstone of the month and did a post listing each of the birthstones & anniversary gemstones. Most everyone knows their birthstone, but do you know the history and significance of birthstones?
Through out history, gemstones have played a very important role in the lives of people. In current times birthstones represent the birth month of individuals. Many believe that birthstones have special powers to those who wear them, others just like wearing a gem that represents the month in which they were born.
When did gemstones first become associated with the months of the year you ask? Historians believe that the first known records come from the book of Exodus in the Old Testament of the Bible where it is written that the Hebrew’s high priest is described as having a breastplate with 12 very specific stones mounted in four rows , one for each of Israel’s tribes. In the first row there was a ruby, topaz and a beryl, in the second row there was a turquoise, sapphire and an emerald, in the third row there was jacinth, agate and an amethyst, and in the fourth and last row there was a chrysolite, onyx and a jasper. They were all mounted in gold filigree settings , one for each of the names of the sons of Israel, each engraved with the name of one of the twelve tribes. (Exodus,Chapter 39:9-14, New International Version)
In the 8th and 9th centuries, gemstones were also believed to be connected to the 12 apostles. Since that time the 12 gemstones have been related to zodiac signs and birth months. It is believed that the actual wearing of birthstones more than likely originated in Poland around the 15th and 16th century. Some believed that the powers of a gemstone for a particular month were heightened by the wearer. For this reason, it is believed that people wore the different birthstones for each month hoping to achieve the full effects of that particular stone.
In 1912 the Jewelers of America organized an official list that would connect each month with a particular stone. The list changed according to what was most commercially available and not necessarily to what was deemed the proper birthstone for that particular month. This list is still used today to identify the stone that represents the month. There are some older birthstones lists that do vary from today’s modern list.
When choosing a birthstone for purchase, keep in mind that the same four C`s that apply to diamond buying also apply to colored gemstone purchases. Birthstone gems are graded and priced based on the four C’s of Carat Weight, Cut, Color and Clarity as well as place of origin, availability or rarity, possible treatment and of course, the current fashion. It is not uncommon for a particular birthstone to suddenly rise in price because it is currently fashionable to wear it. The type of gemstone a person selects will dictate the care that they require. For instance, some genuine stones are very durable, while others require more care. Rubies and sapphires are considered choices for everyday wear while an opal or a pearl require gentle handling. Simply taking the time to understand how to care for your gemstones can lead to years of enjoyment.
Master Gemologist Appraiser
4016 Cortez Road West
Bradenton, FL 34210