How Did Birthstones Start?

The modern birthstone list was formulated by an organization known as‘The Jewelers of America’ in 1912

But Birthstones date all the way back to the Bible.

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Aaron, also known as “Aaron the Priest”, was the brother of Moses, a prophet of God, and the first High Priest of the Israelites. Aaron the Priest wore a special Holy Garment which had a Crystal Breast Plate. God gave specific instructions to Moses on how the Breast Plate should be made.

In Exodus 28:15 “You shall make the breastplate of judgment. Artistically woven according to the workmanship of the ephod you shall make it: of gold, blue, purple, and scarlet thread, and fine woven linen you shall make it.” “And thou shalt set in it settings of stones, even four rows of stones: the first row shall be a sardius, a topaz, and a carbuncle, this shall be the first row.

And the second row shall be an emerald, a sapphire, and a diamond. And the third row a ligure, an agate, and an amethyst. And the fourth row a beryl, and an onyx, and a jasper; they shall be set in gold in their enclosing’s.

And the stones shall be with the names of the children of Israel, twelve, according to their names, like the engravings on a signet; every one with his name shall they be according to the twelve tribes…. And Aaron shall bear the names of the children of Israel in the breastplate of judgement upon his heart, when he goeth in unto the holy place, for a memorial before the Lord continually.” “There were twelve stones, one for each of the names of the sons of Israel, each engraved like a seal with the name of one of the twelve tribes.” Exodus 28:17-20 The Breastplate was set with twelve Gemstones, each representing the twelve tribes of Israel.

The gems were set in four rows of three: Sardius, Topaz and Carbuncle; Emerald, Sapphire and Diamond; Ligure, Agate and Amethyst; and Beryl, Onyx and Jasper. The writings of Flavius Josephus (1st century AD) and St. Jerome (fifth century AD) made the connection between the 12 stones in the Breastplate and the 12 signs of the zodiac.

The idea was proposed that each of the gemstones had special powers associated with the corresponding astrological sign, and that wearing these stones at the right time would have therapeutic or talismanic benefits.

The 12 Gemstones on the Breastplate were then designated to the 12 months of the Year. The modern birthstone list was formulated by an organization known as ‘The Jewelers of America’ in 1912. Despite its controversy and being criticized for moving and dropping some of the original gems, today it is most often seen as the definitive chart of astrological birthstones.

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