A birthstone is a specific gem, or gems, traditionally assigned to each month of the year and is believed to imbue unique properties and powers unto the wearer. Such properties include prosperity, healing, love — and even invisibility! Birthstones are classified as either precious or semi-precious. The origin of the birthstone dates back to the Book of Exodus, where the original 12 birthstones adorned the breastplate of Aaron, the first High Priest of Israel. Each gemstone on Aaron’s breastplate represented one of the 12 tribes of Israel.
The history of birthstones is as colorful and varied as the gemstones themselves. According to tradition, the benefits and powers of the stones were thought to be amplified when worn on the corresponding month. To gain maximum birthstone benefit, wearers were encouraged to collect and wear all 12 (albeit not necessarily at once, though a full gemload would not likely have been the worse for the wearer!) Historically, myriad legends and lore have surrounded birthstones from cultures throughout the world.
“Official” birthstone charts underwent numerous changes over time until, in 1912, the birthstone chart we recognize in the Western world today was codified by the National Association of Jewelers. Although there are numerous charts dictating various birthstone arrangements and associated benefits and powers, the most recognized birthstone chart in the modern Western world remains that of the 1912 National Association of Jewelers’. Today, birthstones are worn less for religious reasons and more commonly for beauty and for personal meaning. Gemstone jewelry not only adds a pop of color dazzle but also a splash of personal significance, making such pieces as uniquely personal as they are beautiful. Read on for the full list of gemstones by month, history and meaning!