Have you ever wondered how Birthstones and their use in modern day Jewellery eventuated ?
Hopefully I can clear up a few questions you may have had..
Biblical origins ?
Yes indeed, it is thought that the origin was originally attributed to the Breastplate of Aaron, a high priest in the times of Moses, that was described in the book of Exodus in the Bible. Twelve gemstones, thought to have been chipped off the throne of God were set into the Breastplate each representing one of the twelve tribes of Israel. The gems were thought to be set in 4 rows of 3 stones, red jasper, light green serpentine, green feldspar, almandine garnet, lapis lazuli, onyx, brown agate, banded agate, amethyst, yellow jasper, malachite and finally green jasper/jade.
The writings of Flavius Josephus and St Jerome make the connection between the twelve signs of the zodiac and the twelve stones in the Breastplate of Aaron. As is still thought by many today, the idea was put forward that special powers were connected to each of the gemstones and these were thought to correspond with the astrological signs, the wearing of these stones at the correct astrological time was thought to bring forth talismanic or therapeutic benefits.
However our modern take is a little skewed from these thoughts, as based on the ideas associated with this astrological model, we would need to own all the twelve gemstones and wear them during the appropriate period of each sign. This is closer to the Indian Vedic tradition, in which 9 gemstones are assigned to 9 planets and the wearing of the particular gems is prescribed to an individuals health and current challenges.
Our modern take on gemstones and their use is generally attributed to 18th century Poland and the arrival of Jewish gem merchants. Although the Gemmological Institute of America likes to associate the wearing of gemstones assigned to particular months to 16th century Germany, as in much history the true story may never unfold. What we do know is there is no standard agreement across the worlds cultures on stones and the zodiac links. Many have adopted gemstones to months solely based on what is regionally available.
The National Association of Jewellers in America saw a huge commercial opportunity and set up a definitive birthstone list in 1912, which to those taking notice will have already expected, bore little connection with Aarons breastplate. Just three of the original stones remain, amethyst, onyx and topaz, as is the modern worlds way the list was again updated somewhat in the 1930's.
Getting married ?
You will need a Wedding Ring then, right ?
Apparently so, but why ? Where does the tradition of exchanging Wedding Rings originate ? Read on……
The history of Wedding Rings is somewhat clouded and for something so steeped in relevance it’s unusual not to have more evidence on the evolution of the tradition, however it would appear the first examples were found in ancient Egypt. Discoveries dating as far back as 3,000-4,000 years ago, show us depictions of braided rings of hemp or reeds being exchanged between couples in what appears to be Wedding ceremonies, this later was to evolve into leather and bone and many bands have been discovered on their wearer remains. Ancient Egyptians viewed the circle as a symbol of lasting eternity, with no beginning or end, thus giving an unbroken ring was signification of the never-ending love between a couple embarking on a married life together. The Egyptians also believed the ‘ring finger’ on the left hand had a vein that was connected directly to the heart, so began the practice of wearing the newly received band on that particular finger, although many cultures of the ancient and modern day do not follow that tradition.
This tradition was however adopted by the Greeks after Alexander the Great conquered Egypt in 332 BC. The ancient Greeks wore plain bands that were usually made of iron, although it is thought the more wealthy in society may have worn far more expensive metals like copper, silver or gold, they were commonly known as betrothal rings and were given before marriage, a precursor to the Engagement Ring perhaps. The Romans put their own spin onto the growing tradition and like the Egyptians before them, gave the bands at the wedding ceremony, however it is thought that the practice was less a symbol of everlasting love and more a symbol of ownership. Unsurprisingly women of this era really had no rights when it came to marriage, they had no say in whom they married and proposals were not in existence. An interested man would show a good gesture to the father, basically buying his daughters hand in marriage and the two would be wed. At this point, a wedding ring was placed on the woman’s hand to signify a binding, legal agreement.
It is thought that it was not until around 860 that Christians started to use the ring in marriage ceremonies, and then it was not the plain ring that comes to symbolize the wedding band, but a highly decorated piece engraved with figures of doves, lyres and occasionally two linked hands. Such a garish symbol was not given a hearty reception by the Church, and for a long time its use was discouraged, although never totally dismissed. By the 13th century there had been a considerable simplification of the wedding band and consequentially a greater acceptance by the Church.
To modern day, many variations now exist both culturally and visually in what constitutes a Wedding Ring and the correct procedure in both acquiring and wearing the band. Many religious factors determine what finger and/or hand is used, in some parts of India, Hindus will use a bichiya or toe ring which is worn instead of a ring on a finger; although this is only for women, and it is increasingly being worn along with a finger ring. Males wearing a Wedding Ring has been a considerably recent development in Western culture and is thought to have flourished during the late 1930’s as the soldiers sent to War and wanted a band to remind them of their wives at home. It is thought that prior to this period only 15% of married men wore bands compared to 80% post 1940’s. That figure I’m sure is now higher, with my own clients running at almost 100% I would imagine, very rarely do I not make both Male and Female Wedding bands for a couple.
So back to the beginning of this piece, it seems you will be needing a Wedding Band afterall, congratulations you have come to the right place. No need to settle for a premade, predetermined Wedding Ring, when you custom make, you have choice, you can have input, we can design something unique, something you will treasure forever. Buying off the shelf restricts you in so many ways, rarely do you find something that truly matches your Engagement ring, as band profile, band thickness, band curvature, diamond size are all important aspects of matching 2 rings together, this is where I can help.
An obligation free design consultation is only a phone call or an email away, we sit down, discuss what you would like, talk through options on what would suit your Engagement Ring and discuss budget. To further help your budget and give you something truly special I can utilize materials you may already have, recycling old Jewellery into new…Imagine your Mums or Grandma’s old pieces melted and remade into your Wedding Ring, it really doesn’t get more personal than that.
Creating something truly memorable is possible when you get your Wedding Rings personally made for you, don’t settle for what you are told to have by the retails shops, have what you want, your Wedding Rings are the only thing from your Wedding Day that stays with you constantly, make them really special.