1. How Birthstones Came About
2. The Tradition of Birthstones
3. Birthstones by Zodiac Sign
4. The Four Birthstone Charts
How Birthstones Came About
Birthstones are crystals rocks and minerals often cut as gemstones that are associated with the month that someone was born. Although there are many different birthstones charts in circulation around the world, the most popular and those used most often are the modern, traditional, mystical and ayurvedic.
Mystical birthstones are believed to have originated in Tibet whilst ayurvedic have their roots in Indian medicine and Vedic astrology. The modern list is considered to be the most recent although changes are made as and when different crystals and gemstones grow in popularity. An example is spinel which was recently added to peridot as one of the birthstones for the month of August.
Traditional birthstones vary widely from one country and culture to the next so the modern list was compiled to create one common list of the most popular stones. In his book The Curious Lore of Precious Gemstones published in 1913 George Frederick Kunz says;
"As it might seem appropriate that one born in the United States should wear a gem from among those which our country furnishes, the following list was some time since prepared by the writer, not in any sense as a substitute for the real birth-stones, but as possible accessory gems which might be worn as a spirit of patriotism. Of course where the stone in question is really that traditionally recommended, the fact that it is at the same time an American gem-stone is an added argument in its favor."
The mineral Kunzite was named after Kunz by the American jeweller Tiffany & Co. He worked for the company as their chief gemmologist from 1879 until his death in 1932.
Throughout history different cultures and civilizations have attributed hidden meanings and properties to crystals and gemstones. Today wearing or owning something that features a birthstone doesn't necessarily imply a belief that it has metaphysical properties. With that said, stones do tend to be associated with luck, good health and prosperity.
A ring featuring garnet and pearl was given to Kate Middleton by Prince William early on in their relationship, garnet is Kate's birthstone and William's is pearl.
Carnelian Zodiac Birthstone for Virgo
The Tradition of Birthstones
The earliest idea of crystals and minerals being used as birthstones is believed to have come from the writings the Roman Jewish historian Josephus (Yosef Ben Matityahu) who lived in the first century AD and Saint Jerome (fifth century AD) who's known for translating the bible into Latin. Their proclamations which were made some 300 years apart connected the twelve gemstones in the biblical high priest breastplate to the twelve months of the year and twelve signs of the zodiac. It wasn't until the eighteenth century in Poland however that birthstones first started being worn and used.
Each stone in the high priest breastplate was assigned a month of the year and sign from the zodiac according to the order in which it appeared in the book of Revelation. Many centuries later when birthstones started being used for metaphysical purposes the precise order in which they appeared and even some of the varieties had changed. Using them in this way is believed to have been introduced by rabbis, Jewish gem traders and other influential members of society in Poland many of whom had a keen interest in the stones featured in the priestly breastplate. Those who could afford to would carry a selection of the stones as talismans.
As bible texts were repeatedly re-written the gemstones and order in which they appeared continually changed. Today there's a great deal of debate over the exact stones that were used not only because of inaccurate translations but also because many of the names have changed. This is why there's so many birthstone charts in circulation and the reason for the wide variation of different gemstones. Some varieties such as tourmaline and possibly diamond would not even have been known during biblical times.
As an example of why there's so much confusion over names, the gemstone sapphirus once believed to be sapphire is now known to have been lapis lazuli. Garnet was part of the group of stones known as carbuncle whilst peridot is believed to have been known as topazos. Sardius is now called carnelian.
Some argue the correct way to assign birthstones is according to astrological or zodiac sign and not by month of birth. The zodiac was first introduced at some time between 409 and 398 BC. The word zodiac comes from Ancient Greek meaning "cycle (or circle) of little animals".
Birthstone Chart | Birthstones by Zodiac Sign
|Zodiac Sign and Number||Date Range||Birthstone|
|Aquarius - Eleventh Astrological Sign||January 21 - February 19||Garnet|
|Pisces - Twelfth Astrological Sign||February 20 - March 20||Amethyst|
|Aries - First Astrological Sign||March 21 - April 19||Bloodstone|
|Taurus - Second Astrological Sign||April 20 - May 20||Sapphire|
|Gemini - Third Astrological Sign||May 21 - June 21||Agate|
|Cancer - Fourth Astrological Sign||June 22 - July 22||Ruby|
|Leo - Fifth Astrological Sign||July 23 - August 23||Onyx|
|Virgo - Sixth Astrological Sign||August 24 - September 22||Carnelian|
|Libra - Seventh Astrological Sign||September 23 - October 22||Peridot|
|Scorpio - Eight Astrological Sign||October 23 - November 22||Beryl|
|Sagittarius - Ninth Astrological Sign||November 23 - December 21||Topaz|
|Capricorn - Tenth Astrological Sign||December 22 - January 20||Ruby|
Birthstone Lists by Month | Traditional Modern Mystical Ayurvedic
|Month of Birth||Traditional Birthstone(s)||Modern Birthstone(s)||Mystical Birthstone||Ayurvedic Birthstone|
|June||Alexandrite, Emerald||Moonstone, Pearl||Moonstone||Pearl|
|October||Tourmaline, Aquamarine (Beryl)||Opal, Tourmaline||Jasper||Opal|
|November||Citrine, Topaz||Topaz, Citrine||Pearl||Topaz|
|December||Zircon, Ruby||Turquoise, Blue Topaz||Onyx|| |
George Frederick Kunz | The Curious Lore of Precious Gemstones. Published 1913.