Many of us have jewellery featuring a birthstone… whether we know it or not! But what’s the significance of these gems and minerals, and where did they come from?
The History of the Birthstone
The earliest association between stones and the zodiac calendar was made - we believe - in the Book of Exodus in the 6th century BC. The story goes that the twelve stones that represented the tribes of Israel were understood to be closely connected to the months of the year, and the stones would offer protection or power to the wearer if they were worn in the corresponding month. Some say that people worked to collect a full set of stones, allowing them to wear the correct one every month through the year!
The Modern Variation
This idea created the basis for the modern birthstone concept that we know today. Depending on what source you choose to believe, the idea of matching stones to birth months originated in either Poland or Germany, somewhere between the 16th and 18th centuries. Birthstones first became popular when the National Association of Jewelers in the United States created a standard list in 1912, which was last updated in 1952. Over time, people have applied colour psychology to the list, giving each stone a meaning.
The birthstones, and common associated meanings, are:
January: Garnet Trust & friendship
February: Amethyst Courage & strength
March: Aquamarine Hope & health
April: Diamond Love & heart
May: Emerald Fertility & faithfulness
June: Alexandrite Pleasure & joy
July: Ruby Passion & wealth
August: Peridot Protection & power
September: Sapphire Wisdom & faith
October: Pink Tourmaline Happiness & inspiration
November: Topaz Purpose & energy
December: Turquoise Tranquillity & good fortune
What do Birthstones Mean Today?
While the biblical connection of stones and months has been lost, the overall meaning of today’s birthstones still remains: Birthstones are powerful. Regardless of whether you believe in colour psychology or not, birthstones give us the power to communicate a very personal, individual, and unique part of ourselves through our accessories.
It’s becoming increasingly clear that jewellery isn’t just about fashion. The way that we make choices about our accessories is changing, and rather than simply looking at outward style, many of us are opting to select pieces that have a greater meaning. Deeply rooted in the very beginnings of your own life, birthstones act as a visual and beautiful representation of who you are and where you come from. It’s not surprising that birthstone jewellery continues to be one of the biggest fashion trends today.