These gems have life in them: their colors speak, say what words fail of. ~George Eliot
A birthstone is a gemstone that is said to represent a specific birth month. Gemstones have long been thought to contain meaning and power and these properties are said to be accentuated when worn by someone born in the corresponding month.
The idea of birthstones is thought to have been inspired by the story of Aaron in Exodus who wore twelve gemstones in his breastplate representing the twelve tribes of Israel. These twelve gemstones came later to represent the twelve months of the year in popular culture.
The allocations of birthstones have fluctuated throughout history and vary according to region, country and source. There is also debate concerning the names of gemstones throughout history and how these relate to the gems we know today (obviously, there are no lab records so we cannot always verify which precise gemstone was being referred to).
According to the American Gemological Association, the following are the agreed upon birthstones. These allocations have been consistent since 1912, with Tanzanite being recently added for December. In brackets beneath some of these, I have put some other even more traditional correlating stones.
(Bloodstone or Red, Yellow, Orange or Brown Zircon possibly referred to as Jacinth or Hyacinth in ancient times).
(Agate or Cat’s Eye)
Please also see my previous post ‘The Language of Stones’ where I discuss the tradition of ‘acrostic’ jewellery.
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