Did you know that today’s stones by date of birth come from the Old Testament? Did you know that 2016 brought us an addition to the list of birth stones? Find out the full story here.
Birthstones seem to be a relatively new idea. But, oddly enough, this is not the case. In fact, they are based on the research of the Roman scholar Titus Flavius Josephus Flavius (37-c. 100 AD), who, in addition to the fabulous name, studied the twelve gems of Aaron’s breastplate and compiled the first list of birth stones.
WHAT WAS AARON’S REWARD?
A very good question. Aaron’s breastplate was described in the Book of Exodus and is of particular importance to gem lovers as it is one of the oldest written records (dated between 600 and 400 BC) of the use of gems for symbolic purposes. Although it is not entirely clear which stones were actually used, they were described in Exodus as ruby, topaz, beryl, turquoise, sapphire, emerald, hyacinth, agate, amethyst, chrysolite, onyx and jasper, set in a 3×4 breastplate and put on for communion with God.
Flavius Josephus realized that the number twelve was of great importance. From the twelve stones on the breastplate to the twelve precious stones mentioned in the Book of Revelation, to the number of the sons of Israel, to the signs of the Zodiac and the months of the year.
In the 5th century, Saint Jerome put forward the idea that the twelve gems from Revelation could be used to represent each month.
However, it wasn’t until the 17th century that it was proposed to wear a gemstone associated with your birth month all year round. Up to this point, people have tried to get hold of all twelve stones and change them every month.
But no one could agree on what the twelve gems should be. The names of gemstones in the Bible have changed a lot over the centuries, and gemstone names were often used to refer to a gemstone of a particular color rather than a specific gemstone. For example, carbuncle is used in the Bible for any red gem or coal!
MODERN LIST OF BIRTH STONES
Understandably, this was confusing. Therefore, in 1912, the American National Jewelers Association compiled a new list of birthstones. Adding a few adjustments later, including the addition of tanzanite in 2002 and spinel in 2016, we had the list we use today.
Some lucky months have alternate birthstone options, so some of you will find that you can choose your favorite birthstone or collect them all.
MYTHS AND FOLKLORE
Each birth gem is shrouded in ancient myths and folklore. Even tanzanite, discovered only in 1967, is already considered beneficial for expectant mothers. Perhaps the most famous is the supposed ability of amethyst to protect against intoxication.
Wearing the stone is said to increase the mystical and healing power of the stone itself.