Learning Library

Birthstones

There are 17 official birthstones.


The origin of birthstones is believed to be linked to the breastplate of Aaron. The 1st century historian Josephus (also known as Yosef Ben Matityahu) and St Jerome in the 5th century both wrote about the connection between the breastplate of Aaron and the twelve months of the year. That said, it was not until the sixteenth century in Poland that the wearing of birthstones for the particular month in which you were born became recognised. Prior to this period it is believed that many people acquired twelve different gems and wore them one by one, changing them on the first day of every month.

Over the centuries, different countries and different religions have made various alterations to the list. George Kunz in his book, “The Curious Lore of Precious Stones”, collated various birthstone charts and as it is the most comprehensive list we’ve found, we have included it on the following page.

In 1912, the American National Jewelers’ Association compiled a new birthstone list, replacing many of the historical gemstone names with their current names, and in 1938 The American Gem Society made several further amendments. In 1952, the Jewelry Industry Council of America sponsored the birthstone list which remains until this day (with the exception of Tanzanite, which was only discovered in 1967 and was added to the official birthstone list on the 30th of October 2002).

Nowadays there is no excuse not to invest in birthstones. Historically some of the gemstones were often unavailable in many countries and others were not suitable for setting. Today, even though Alexandrite and Tanzanite can sometimes be difficult to find, most months now have more than one gem associated with them, leaving us little excuse for not having at least a few pieces of our birthstone in our jewellery box.

Even with the many changes over the centuries, millions of people still believe in the positive power of wearing your correct birthstone as a talisman. Nobody can deny the positive effects felt when wearing the correct birthstone, even if it is purely because of a placebo.

Back to Learning Library