The History of Birthstones

The idea of birthstones, as we know it today, comes from the Judeo-Christian tradition. Natal stones are mentioned in the writings of Josephus in the 1st century AD, and later by St Jerome in the early 5th century. They originally depicted the 12 stones in the breastplate of Aaron (also known as the High Priest’s Breast Plate), mentioned in Exodus (Exodus 28: 15-23), each of which came to represent a month of the year or sign of the zodiac. The Book of Revelations refers to the same stones, with some variation, as the foundation stones of the New Jerusalem. In the 9th Century analogies were made between these stones and the apostles, and virtues assigned to them accordingly.

It wasn’t until the 18th century, starting in either Poland or Germany, that it became fashionable to wear birthstones. Up until that time, crystals and stones were worn mainly for their specific therapeutic properties, protection, or ability to fulfil desires, and, of course, for decoration. There is also some speculation that early Christians associated the wearing of birthstones to have its origins in paganism, and were therefore slow to adopt the practise.

In 1912 the National Association of Jewellers (US) met in Kansas City, and agreed on a list of birthstones for each month, based loosely on the many lists from various versions of the breastplate and Foundation Stones. One source from the period states that this was for simplicity and convenience, but a later, more cynical source suggests that this was as a result of astrology falling out of favour, and purely a commercial attempt to make birthstones acceptable again.

With the advent of the New Age movement in the 1980’s, many more stones were added to the list by crystal healers. These are based largely on the element of the star sign, as different crystals also represent the elements earth, air, fire, water, and the fifth element, spirit. In her book, Love is in the Earth, Melody assigns one or more star signs to each stone. Judy hall, in The Crystal Zodiac, brings this a step further and also suggests birthstones for ascendants and moon signs as well.

As you can see, there are many, many different interpretations. Below are listed the main birthstones for each star sign, followed by some of the other suggested stones from various sources. There were also later additions of stones representing natal guardian angels and special apostles, which I will not go into here.

Aquarius: 20th January – 18th February
Main stone: Garnet
Other stones: Baltic Amber, Amethyst, Angelite, Aquamarine, Cavansite, Diamond, Fuchsite, Garnet, Hematite, Jade, Labradorite, Moonstone, Clear Quartz, Sapphire, Schalenblende, Clear Tourmaline, Turquoise

Pisces: 19th February – 20th March
Main stone: Amethyst
Other stones: Blue Lace Agate, Amethyst , Angelite, Anglesite, Aquamarine, Bixbyite, Bloodstone, Calcite, Diaspore, Fluorite, Moonstone, Fire Opal, Pearl, Rose Quartz, Schalenblende, Smithsonite, Staurolite, Sugilite, Imperial Topaz, Turquoise

Aries: 21st March – 20th April
Main stone: Carnelian
Other stones: Fire Agate, Grey Banded Agate, Angelite, Aquamarine, Green Aventurine, Axinite, Bloodstone, Cancrinite, Citrine, Crocoite, Diamond, Enstatite, Hematite, Herderite, Jade, Jasper, Kyanite, Blue Andean Opal, Rose (Cherry) Opal, Ruby, Ruby Zoisite, Stilbite, Sunstone, Tektite, Brown Tourmaline (Dravite)

Taurus: 21st April – 20th May
Main stone: Emerald
Other stones: Baltic Amber, Amblygonite, Carnelian, Chrysocolla, Diamond, Emerald, Erythrite, Iolite, Jade, Kunzite, Kyanite, Peridot, Boulder Opal, Rhodonite, Rose Quartz, Rutile, Scapolite, Selenite, Topaz, Tiger’s Eye, Blue Tourmaline (Indicolite), Xenotime, Zincite

Gemini: 21st May – 21st June
Main stone: Citrine
Other stones: Agate (general), Colombian Amber, Angelite, Apatite, Apophyllite, Calcite, Celestite, Chrysocolla, Citrine, Emerald, Epidote, Howlite, Jade, Lazulite, Lodestone / Magnetite, Phenakite, Rutile, Sphalerite, Tanzanite, Tiger’s Eye, Watermelon Tourmaline, Wolframite

Cancer: 21st June – 22nd July
Main stone: Moonstone
Other stones: Amber, Calcite, Carnelian, Chalcedony, Chrysoprase, Emerald, Endlichite, Microline, Moonstone, Fire Opal, Orthoclase, Pearl, Tektite

Leo: 23rd July- 22nd August
Main stone: Ruby (after 1912)
Main stone: Onyx, Turquoise (prior to 1912)
Other stones: Fire Agate, Baltic Amber, Carnelian, Childrenite, Chrysoberyl, Cinnabar, Citrine, Danburite, Diaspore, Dumortierite, Emerald, Garnet, Gold, Jasper, Kunzite, Labradorite, Larimar, Onyx, Opal – Fire, Peridot, Petalite, Pietersite, Pyrite, Clear Quartz, Rhodochrosite, Sunstone, Tiger Iron, Tiger’s Eye, Imperial Topaz

Virgo: 23rd August – 22nd September
Main stone: Peridot
Other stones: Moss Agate, Amazonite, Amethyst, Andalusite, Carnelian, Cerussite, Chromium Diopside, Chrysocolla, Diopside, Dioptase, Erythrite, Fossilised Wood, Garnet, Lodestone / Magnetite, Moonstone, Opal, Peridot, Rutilated Quartz, Sapphire, Sardonyx, Smithsonite, Sugilite, Watermelon Tourmaline, Xenotime, Zircon

Libra: 23rd September – 22nd October
Main stone: Opal
Other stones: Ametrine, Apophyllite, Aquamarine, Grenn Aventurine, Bloodstone, Chiastolite, Childrenite, Chrysoberyl, Chrysoprase, Citrine, Diamond, Diaspore, Emerald, Hemimorphite, Iolite, Jade, Kyanite, Lepidolite, Moonstone, Morganite, Opal, Opal – Fire, Peridot, Prehnite, Rose Quartz, Sapphire, Scheelite, Tanzanite, Topaz, Tourmaline), Triphylite, Wolframite, Zincite, Zircon

Scorpio: 23rd October – 22nd November
Main stone: Aquamarine
Other stones: Black Agate, Alexandrite, Anatase, Aquamarine, Astrophyllite, Charoite, Citrine, Herkimer Diamond, Hiddenite, Kunzite, Labradorite, Malachite, Moonstone, Obsidian, Opal, Rhodochrosite, Stibnite, Topaz, Pink Tourmaline (Rubellite), Turquoise, Unakite

Saggitarius: 23rd November – 21st December
Main stone: Topaz
Other stones: Black Agate, Blue Lace Agate, Amethyst, Azurite, Azurite-malachite, Chalcedony, Charoite, Garnet, Herkimer Diamond, Heulandite, Iolite, Labradorite, Lapis Lazuli, Lazulite, Malachite, Opal – Fire, Seraphinite, Smoky Quartz, Sodalite, Tanzanite, Titanite (Sphene), Topaz (general), Pink Tourmaline (Rubellite), Tsavorite, Turquoise, Vesuvianite, Wulfenite, Zircon

Capricorn: 22nd December – 19th January
Main stone: Onyx, Turquoise (after 1912)
Main stone: Ruby (prior to 1912)
Other stones: Amethyst, Aragonite, Azurite-malachite, Beudantite, Brazilianite, Chalcopyrite, Erythrite, Fluorite, Galena, Garnet, Jet, Malachite, Mimetite, Obsidian, Black Onyx, Clear Quartz, Smoky Quartz, Ruby, Stibnite, Tiger’s Eye, Black Tourmaline (Schorl), Green Tourmaline (Verdalite), Vesuvianite, Vivianite

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