The History Of Birthstones

Many cultures link a person’s date or month of birth to attributes of character or personality. Gemstones, also assigned their own unique qualities, became associated with the various months in order to match the character of those born in the month, or to bring special good luck or fortune that those born in any month would particularly need.


Gemstones have been seen throughout history as symbols of power due to their beauty and rarity. It is believed that one of the earliest historical origins of birthstones comes from the bible. The story of Exodus, details a breast plate with twelve jewels, worn by the high priest Aaron. Each jewel symbolized each of the twelve tribes of Israel. A couple of scholars, Josephus in the1st century AD, and St. Jerome, in the 5th century AD, began to associate the twelve stones of Aaron’s breastplate to the twelve signs of the zodiac. It was believed that wearing the corresponding gemstones during the appropriate time of the year would bring good fortune.
The birthstones that we recognize today come from a combination of ancient mythology, biblical lore, and commercial marketing. In 1912, the National Association of Jewelers in the United States adopted a standardized list of birthstones to aid in sales. This list has been modified over the years, and other countries have also adopted their own versions.

Birthstone by Month

The birthstones listed here are the ones traditionally recognized in the United States. It should be noted that many Eastern traditions have a different set of associations.

  • January’s birthstone is garnet. It is thought to bring the owner good health, and also aids in fostering friendships as well as encouraging loyalty.
  • February’s birthstone amethyst. It is thought to relieve worries and encourage mental peace and clarity.
  • March’s birthstones are aquamarine or bloodstone. Aquamarine is believed to have the power to keep the wearer healthy, and bloodstone also keeps the wearer safe.
  • April’s birthstone is diamond. Diamonds are thought to strengthen the wearer and bring out his or her best qualities.
  • May’s birthstone is emerald. Emeralds are said to bring happiness and mental clarity.
  • June’s birthstones are the pearl and moonstone. The spherical shape of the pearl represents completeness and the moonstone represents an inner journey.
  • July’s birthstone is ruby. Rubies are thought to bring good health and good fortune to the wearer.
  • August’s birthstones are sardonyx or peridot. Sardonyx is said to help with motivation and peridot keeps jealousy and depression away.
  • September’s birthstone is sapphire. Sapphires are thought to clear the mind and keep bad health away.
  • October’s birthstone is opal. Opals are said to increase confidence and clear the mind.
  • November’s birthstones are topaz and citrine. Citrine is believed to bring relaxation and topaz brings happiness and hope.
  • December’s birthstones are Tanzanite, zircon, and turquoise. Tanzanite is believed to help in transformation, zircon aids in spiritual growth, and turquoise is believed to help open communication.

Birthstones and Astrology

The birthstone associated with each of the twelve astrological signs is often related to one of the months that take place during that sign’s transit. For example, Aquarius takes place January 21 – February 21, and the birthstone associated with this sign is garnet. This is the same birthstone associated with January. So, a person born on February 5 could wear an amethyst to represent their month, or a garnet to represent Aquarius.
Some of the birthstones associated with the astrological signs have carried forward from earlier traditions. The birthstone for Gemini is agate, a stone historically assigned to May or June, which no longer carries a monthly association.
Image by MoRDi CuaC

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