The idea of birthstones representing the twelve months of the year dates back to the biblical story of Aaron and his breastplate described in the book of Exodus. The breastplate was a religious garment set with twelve gemstones which represented, at the time, the twelve tribes of Israel. The gemstones were set in four horizontal rows of three gems per row. Emerald, sapphire, and diamond. Amethyst, agate, and ligure. Sardius, carbuncle, and topaz. And onyx, beryl, and jasper.
These gemstones in the breastplate were connected to the twelve signs of the zodiac. It was said that each of these gemstones possessed a particular power which was associated with the corresponding astrological sign and that by wearing these stones, the wearer would receive certain talismanic powers.
We even had the opportunity to create a Breastplate inspired custom ring for a client a few years ago featuring all of the birthstone gems in a single custom ring. The ring was designed as 4 rings with 3 marquise birthstones in each. The four rings were then joined together using a laser welder for a permanent bond.
The modern version of the list was created around 1912 and remains pretty much unchanged until today. The modern list is as follows, listing alternatives for some months…
We have also created a much more detailed resource about birthstones and their properties on our Birthstones page where we explore some of the history and traditional properties of each birthstone.