The History of Birthstones

“If cold December gave you birth,

The month of snow and ice and mirth,

Place on your hand a turquoise blue;

Success will bless whate’er you do.”

In 1812, Tiffany and Co., one of the most famous jewelers of all time, published a poem about each birthstone and what it would bring to its wearer, including the excerpt above about December’s birthstone, turquoise. However popular Tiffany and Co. may have made birthstones over the last century, their origin is actually much more antiquated than that.

The History of Birthstones

The History of BirthstonesMany scholars believe that birthstones can be traced back to biblical times. In the book of Exodus in the Bible, it talks about the prophet Aaron, brother of Moses, having a breastplate with twelve stones on it, representing the twelve tribes of Israel. It wasn’t until the fifth century or so that a connection was made between the stones of the twelve tribes and the signs of the zodiac. It was believed then that the twelve different stones held unique and magical powers that were especially potent during their corresponding zodiac sign, or month. In 18th Century Poland, gem dealers really popularized the idea of birthstones by selling them in sets of twelve, to be worn each month and thus be gifted the unique magical powers of each stone year round.

In 1912, the National Association of Jewelers created the first list of birthstones, the same list that is largely recognized today. Giving birthstone jewelry to a loved one is a unique gift that lasts forever. The popularity of giving jewelry to mothers, with each of the birthstones of their children, is also a popular tradition of the last century.

At Mosteller American Gemstones, we sell precious and semi-precious stones mined in the United States, and have many of the popular birthstones in stock or easily ordered.  Call or email us to get your special someone a unique and personalized birthstone gift.