Each of the 12 months of the year is represented by one, or in some cases several, of the world’s most beautiful gemstones and each of those birthstones comes laden with significance and meaning, making them an ideal gift for someone on their birthday. But where did the concept of birthstones come from and what are the qualities associated them?
Birthstones, it would seem, have their origins in the Bible. In Exodus 28 it states that Moses instructs special garments to be made for Aaron, the High Priest of the Hebrews. This included a breastplate inlaid with twelve gemstones representing the twelve tribes of Israel. The twelve gemstones were emerald, sapphire, diamond, topaz, carbuncle, sardius, agate, ligure, amethyst, onyx, jasper and beryl.
Later, around 1 and 5 AD, the stones were associated with the twelve signs of the zodiac, then in the 18th century gem traders in Poland associated each gemstone with a person’s birth month. In 1912, the American National Association of Jewelers created an official list of birthstones and while there have been some changes, the 1912 list remains the one in use today.
The twelve birthstones
Those born in June have a choice of birthstone - they can choose between the birthstone long-associated with June, Pearl, or the birthstone more recently associated with June, Alexandrite. Unique among gemstones for being organic rather than mineral, Pearl is associated with nobility, beauty and peace, and is considered to be a symbol of purity. Named after the Russian Tsar Alexander II, Alexandrite is a very rare gemstone, believed to bring luck, good fortune and love.
Like those born in June, November babies get a choice of birthstone - they can choose between Topaz and Citrine, the yellow/orange variety of Quartz. Topaz comes in many coloured varieties and is associated with love and affection, as well as sincerity, courage and wisdom. Citrine, meanwhile, is associated with success, prosperity, cheerfulness and light-heartedness.
Those born in December are faced with a choice of three birthstones. The December birthstones are Turquoise, Tanzanite and Zircon. Said to be the oldest mineral on Earth, Zircon can be a colourless/white gemstone and a few other colours. Because of Zircons high dispersion it shows a rainbow of colours with the amount of sparkle it produces. This sparkling gemstone is associated with wisdom, honour and prosperity. An alternative December birthstone, the opaque gemstone, Turquoise is associated with peace and balance, as well as good luck and longevity.
Another alternative December birthstone is Tanzanite. One of the world’s most recently discovered gemstones, Tanzanite’s huge popularity lead to it becoming the first gemstone to be added to the official birthstone list since 1912. This beautiful blue-violet gemstone is associated with prosperity, happiness and health.
Whether you believe they have healing powers, protect or bring good luck to the wearer, birthstones are a wonderful way of marking someone’s birthday and conveying your love, affection or appreciation for them.
Gemstone specialists GF Williams supplies a huge range of high quality coloured gemstones and is an expert and experienced gemstone supplier to designers, manufacturers, collectors and private clients.
Find out more about how GF Williams can fulfil your gemstone requirements by browsing our online gemstone catalogue or contacting our friendly team of gemstone experts on +44 (0) 207 405 5477 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.