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.