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They say it was the Greeks who invented the birthday cake. But who invented the tradition of the birthstones? Here are some interesting facts.
According to the International Gem Society: “In the modern tradition, there are one to three gemstones representing every birth month of the year, each with its own history and legends behind it.”
According to the Farmer's Almanac, a reliable source for history and folklore: “While some sources such as 1st Century Roman-Jewish historian Josephus tell us birthstones originated on the breastplate of Aaron, with each representing the 12 months of the year and accruing 12 signs of the zodiac, others say the breastplate’s stones signified each of the 12 tribes of Israel. Eighth and 9th Century religious treaties were written associating particular stones with apostles. And while more modern accounts, including folklore, do not identify the breastplate or religious connections, some claim wearing one during its assigned month enhances its therapeutic properties.” (Aaron was the brother of Moses and the first high priest of the Jewish people.)
According to a source that almost everyone relies on these days, but we are not always sure that this source is reliable … Wikipedia:
In Western culture, there seems to be a connection between the tradition of birthstones and Aaron's breastplate and people think that is where the tradition began.
By contrast, “Eastern cultures recognize a similar range of gemstones associated with birth, though rather than associating a gem with a birth month, gemstones are associated with celestial bodies, and astrology is employed to determine the gemstones most closely associated with and beneficial to a particular individual.”
Finally, it was the Americans, in 1912, who decided to standardize birthstones and came up with an official list. Hey! It's a lot easier to sell jewelry for birthday gifts that way. 😊
So! If you want to use the American list as your standard or guide, here are the gemstones for your birth month.
■ January– Garnet ~ a precious stone consisting of a deep red vitreous silicate mineral
■ February– Amethyst ~ a precious stone consisting of a violet or purple variety of quartz
■ March– Aquamarine, Bloodstone ~ a precious stone consisting of a light bluish-green variety of beryl *Alternative – bloodstone ~ a greenish variety of chalcedony with small bloodlike spots of red jasper scattered through it
■ April– Diamond ~ “hardest substance known to man and a girl's best friend” (per James Bond)
■ May– Emerald ~ a bright green precious stone consisting of a chromium-rich variety of beryl
■ June– Pearl, Moonstone, Alexandrite ~ a hard, lustrous spherical mass, typically white or bluish-gray, formed within the shell of a pearl oyster or other bivalve mollusk and highly prized as a gem. *Alternative1 – moonstone ~ a gem variety of orthoclase or albite that is white and translucent with bluish reflections ... **Alternative2 – alexandrite ~ a variety of chrysoberyl, green by daylight and red-violet by artificial light, used as a gem
■ July– Ruby ~ A deep-red, translucent variety of the mineral corundum, containing small amounts of chromium and valued as a gem
“Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies.” (Proverbs 31:20)
■ August– Peridot, Spinel ~ a green semi-precious mineral, a variety of olivine. *Alternative – spinel ~ a hard glassy mineral occurring as octahedral crystals of variable color and consisting chiefly of magnesium and aluminum oxides
■ September– Sapphire ~ a transparent precious stone, typically blue, that is a variety of corundum (aluminum oxide).
“The Star of India, one of the largest star sapphires on Earth, is unique because it shows six-pointed asterism (starlike patterns) on both its top and bottom sides.” It has a mysterious history and has become the stuff of legend (which means they made movies about it).
■ October– Opal, Tourmaline ~ a gemstone consisting of a form of hydrated silica, typically semitransparent and showing many small points of shifting color against a pale or dark ground. *Alternative – tourmaline ~ a typically black or blackish mineral that occurs as prismatic crystals in granitic and other rocks. It consists of a boron aluminosilicate and has pyroelectric and piezoelectric properties
■ November– Topaz, Citrine ~ a precious stone, typically colorless, yellow, or pale blue, consisting of a fluorine-containing aluminum silicate *Alternative – citrine ~ a glassy yellow variety of quartz (not as expensive as topaz)
■ December– Turquoise, Zircon, Tanzanite ~ a semiprecious stone, typically opaque and of a greenish-blue or sky-blue color, consisting of a hydrated hydroxyl phosphate of copper and aluminum. *Alternative1 – zircon ~ a mineral that is a deep blue variety of zoisite and is used as a gemstone ... **Alternative2 – tanzanite ~ a mineral that is a deep blue variety of zoisite and is used as a gemstone