Why Gemstones Became Coveted Birthstones and Why We Love Them

The history of birthstones goes back to biblical times, but the list of birthstones as we know it today was devised in the early 1900’s. In modern times, it is customary to bestow gemstones to children that correspond to the month of their birth. For example, people in July would get a ruby, and people born in September would get a sapphire. These gems are referred to as “birthstones.” The tradition of birthstones dates back to ancient times, and the types of gems vary with different cultures and historical eras.


History of Birthstones

The origin of gemstones is they correspond to each month of the Gregorian calendar. They can be traced back to the first century with a biblical historian named Josephus. He promoted there was a connection between the twelve gemstones in the breastplate of Aaron in the book of Exodus, and he believed the gems were also associated with the zodiac signs of each month. However, this is not the point in history where birthstones became a tradition. Birthstone traditions in western culture did not begin until much later.

The birthstones in use today are derived from poems published by Tiffany & Co. in 1870. An official American birthstone list was standardized in 1912 by the National Association of Jewelers. The most current United States birthstone list was established by the American Gem Trade Association. Other countries have their own birthstone lists for each month, so your birthstone could differ according to the country where you were born.

You should also be aware the modern birthstone list does not correspond to the zodiac signs. If you want to give your significant other a zodiac-related gemstone, you would consult a zodiac gem chart. The zodiac gem for each zodiac sign is likely to be different from the birthstone of the corresponding month. There are also gemstones associated with the days of the week that also should not be confused with the birthstone chart.

Why do some months have two or more birthstones?

Some months have more than one birthstone. For example, the birthstones of June are pearl, moonstone, and alexandrite. The simple answer to the question of why there are two or three different birthstones for some months is due to market demands. Some stones are very rare and much more expensive than others. In order to improve sales for certain months, less expensive gems were added for those months. Also, some gems are much more aesthetically desirable, so the gemstone industry has added some prettier options for some months that didn’t have the most beautiful stones to compare with gems such as sapphires and diamonds.