A Brief History of Birthstones
Popular belief is the tradition of birthstones probably arose from the Breastplate of Aaron,
a ceremonial religious garment set with twelve gemstones that represented the twelve tribes of Israel and are first described in the Book of Exodus.
'..and thou shall set in it, settings of stones, even four rows of stones: the first row shall be a sardius, a topaz, and a carbuncle; this shall be the first row.
And the second row shall be an emerald, a sapphire, and a diamond. And the third row a ligure, an agate, and an amethyst.'
A Sardius, as referred to in the above passage, is what we call carnelian. Carbuncle is an ancient name from what is probably a ruby or garnet.
Finally, it is thought that ligure refers to a zircon, or quartz crystal, but opinions vary.
Birthstones may very well be far older, deriving from the twelve signs of the zodiac and the twelve months of the year.
The power of stones probably began with a long forgotten tribal elder or medicine person upon a birth of a baby, asking for blessings from their deities.
Different cultures around the world have developed different birthstone lists over the centuries, altering birthstone choices according to availability and price.
Birthstones have been and still are, changed based on availability of particular gemstones. Consumers want to own their birthstones and pricing can affect popularity of a particular choice. Hence, there are multiple choices for each month.
There are numerous legends and myths about birthstone healing powers and their therapeutic influence. According to these legends, wearing a gemstone during its assigned month heightened its healing powers. For the full effect, individuals needed to own all twelve and alternate them monthly.