Sunday, May 2, 2021

The History of Birthstones


Amber Schamel christian author
Blogger: Amber Schamel

Replica of the priestly breastplate.
Dr. Avishai  Teicher Pikiwiki Israel, CC BY 2.5

Well, we are back at May again, which means that we have studied the birthstones of all twelve months. So today, I'd like to share with you how the tradition of birthstones began. 

The tradition of gemstones associated with months of the year and constellations in the Zodiac are so old, that no one knows for sure what the origination of them are. In eastern cultures, such as Hinduism, there were gemstones associated with celestial bodies. At birth, an astronomical chart was calculated and certain stones were recommended for the child to possess or wear in order to bring good luck and prevent problems. 

Many believe that birthstones actually originate from Judaism and Christianity. When Moses brought the Hebrews out of Egypt and established the priesthood, there was a breastplate that was created for Aaron as the High Priest. This breastplate contained twelve stones, one to represent each tribe of Israel. The historian Josephus believed there was a link between these twelve stones, the twelve signs of the Zodiac and the months of the year. 

Public Domain

"And for the twelve stones, whether we understand by them the months, or the twelve signs of what the Greeks call the zodiac, we shall not be mistaken in their meaning.” ~Antiquities of the Jews by Josephus

Saint Jerome later expounded upon Josephus' theories, and people began to associate gems with months of the year, and attribute qualities to each as well. However, it was not until a few centuries ago that people began to wear only the gemstone of their birth month. Some historians believe the practice originated in Poland in the 18th century, while others attribute it to Germany in the 1500's.

Saint Jerome by Domenico Ghirlandaio
Public Domain

Either way, the wearing of one's birthstone became increasingly popular. The list that we have today was compiled officially for the first time in 1912. The Jewelers of America association, then known as the National Association of Jewelers, met in Kansas and officially adopted a standard list to make it easier to market the gems. It has since been revised a few times, but it remains mostly the same as the 1912 list.

While it can be fun and interesting to know your birthstone, and the qualities it represents, all of these stones are beautiful, valuable, and a credit to the wearer. 


Below is a complete list of the birthstones by month.

January: Garnet

February: Amethyst

March: Aquamarine, bloodstone

April: Diamond

May: Emerald

June: Pearl, Moonstone, Alexandrite

July: Ruby

August: Peridot, Spinel

September: Sapphire

October: Opal, Tourmaline

November: Topaz, Citrine

December: Tanzanite, Turquoise, Zircon 


Two-time winner of the Christian Indie Award for historical fiction, Amber Schamel writes riveting stories that bring HIStory to life. She has a passion for travel, history, books and her Savior. This combination results in what her readers call "historical fiction at its finest".  

She lives in Colorado Springs near her favorite mountain, in a small “castle” with her prince charming. Between enjoying life as a new mom, and spinning stories out of soap bubbles, Amber loves to connect with readers and hang out on Goodreads with other bookish peoples.

Amber is a proud member of the American Christian Fiction Writers Association. Visit her online at and download a FREE story by subscribing to her Newsletter!


  1. I really enjoyed this series and learned a lot. Thank you for sharing.

  2. I've enjoyed this series too! I appreciated your perseverance month to month, when I'm sure you could have posted other things. It has been a wonderful distraction!

  3. So glad you all enjoyed the series! Many blessings!