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Ancient Birthstone Chart - The Rich History Of Ancient Birthstones

Birthstones are a well-established and valued tradition. They are a lovely gift for any occasion, even though they are frequently given for birthdays and anniversaries. Each ancient birthstone chart has a long history and is endowed with special qualities and, in the opinion of certain experts, special powers.

Due to their vibrant variety of colors and the unique sentiment they can symbolize, birthstones have become quite popular among gem lovers and gift-givers.

Today, each birth month of the year is symbolized by one to three jewels, each of which has unique mythology and history. Rings, bracelets, necklaces, and earrings frequently feature birthstones, allowing the wearer to commemorate their special day whenever they choose.

According to scholars, the Breastplate of Aaron, which is mentioned in the Bible's Book of Exodus, is where birthstones first appeared. It was a religious garment with distinct tribal symbolism.

There are a lot of stories about where birthstones originated, and we will tackle them in this article.

Biblical Origins

This tradition has roots that go all the way back to the Book of Exodus and biblical times. It details the breastplate that was to be worn by every subsequent high priest and that was worn by Aaron, the Israelites' first high priest. Each of the 12 various stones used to embellish the breastplate stood for one of Israel's 12 tribes.

These stones were supposed to have enormous powers and the capacity to reveal a person's destiny. Carnelian, Chrysolite, and Beryl were found in the first row, according to first-century translations. Jacinth, agate, and amethyst made up the second row, and topaz, onyx, and jasper made up the third row.

It is challenging to ascertain which stones were actually utilized because the nomenclature of minerals at the period was based on color rather than chemical makeup. Chrysolite, for instance, was a term used to designate gems that had gold specks in them, such as topaz or peridot.

Despite the fact that birthstones have religious roots, modern custom requires that the stones be given according to birth month. author Flavius Josephus, who lived in the first century AD. and St. Jerome from the fifth century AD first understood the relationship between the 12 zodiac signs and the 12 stones in the Breastplate of Aaron.

However, gemstone designations for birth months didn't start until the 18th century. According to experts, Poland is where the custom of birthstones for each month first started.

Hindu Roots

Hindu traditions also contain the notion of stones having mystical properties to symbolize your birth month, which most likely influenced western traditions as well. The Ratna Pariksha, a Hindu literature from the fifth century, details the connections between gems and celestial bodies, gods, and days of the week.

According to Hindu traditions, the nine gemstones known as Navaratna in Sanskrit correspond to the various celestial energies. Bright red spinel or rubies are always the focal point of jewelry in this design, which also surrounds them with other jewels on each side.

These items are thought to bring cosmic harmony to the user and serve as prestige and prosperity symbols. Vedic astrologers then suggest specific stones based on astrological birth charts in order to either harness the power of particular planets or protect against the effects of others.

Different birthstones on a black surface
Different birthstones on a black surface

List Of Ancient Birthstones

The National Association of Jewelers established the current list of birthstones in 1912, and the list has not changed. There are three lists of birthstones available today: modern, traditional, and ancient.

The birthstones on the "modern" list are jewels that have only recently been widely accessible, roughly in the last 100 years. Stones on the "traditional" list have been available for usage for the past 500 years, while those on the "ancient" list have been well known and used for thousands of years.

In this article, we will focus on the ancient birthstone chart. We have listed the 12 ancient birthstones below, check them out!

January Birthstone - Garnet

Garnet is a vibrant gemstone to start the New Year for infants born in January. Despite coming in a variety of various colors, garnet gemstones are most frequently found in red. It's a lovely diamond with which to begin the year.

The Middle English word "gernet," which means "dark red," was used to describe garnet in the 14th century. The name, which derives from the Latin word "granatum," which means "seed," was given to the gemstone because it resembles the red pomegranate seeds.

Because of how long-lasting garnet is, pieces of jewelry made of it have been discovered that date back to the Bronze Age. Numerous allusions date as far back as 3100 BC, when the Egyptians began using garnets as inlays in their carvings and jewelry. It was even referred to be the "sign of life" by the Egyptians. In the third and fourth centuries, the Romans were huge fans of the garnet gemstone.

Those who wished to stave off illness and plague as well as warriors headed into combat both used this gemstone as a charm for protection. Some wise men and old healers even applied garnets to wounds while praising their therapeutic properties.

The wearing of garnet jewelry has endured through the ages. Ancient Roman signet rings frequently used garnet gemstones, while noblemen of the Middle Ages valued garnets.

Garnets became quite popular throughout the Victorian era thanks to the Victorians. The most beautiful garnet gemstone jewelry from that time reflects the shape of the pomegranate for which it is named, with clusters of small red jewels forming a larger showpiece piece.

The garnet is now used in a variety of jewelry designs, from lovely rings to magnificent tiaras. Given that garnet gemstones can be found in a variety of hues, rare green or blue garnets make mesmerizing accessories, especially when set in pendants or drop earrings.

February Birthstones - Amethyst

Everywhere in the world, one can find amethyst, a purple quartz that is a stunning combination of violet and red. The word for "methustos" in Ancient Greek means intoxicated, from which the name was derived. People in ancient times who wore the gemstone thought it might keep them sober.

Amethyst has been linked to countless stories, mythologies, religions, and cultures throughout history. The ancient Greeks and Romans thought this gemstone could protect the wearer from Bacchus' intoxicating effects and preserve them sharp-witted. During the Middle Ages, amethysts were used as royal symbols on English regalia. Jewelry made of amethyst has been discovered dating back to 2000 BC.

According to some historical tales, Saint Valentine possessed an amethyst ring with a carving of Cupid on it. Amethyst was one of the twelve gems that stood in for the twelve tribes of Israel, according to people who are familiar with Old Testament history.

Amethyst was revered as one of the most priceless jewels for a long time and was frequently worn by royalty or just by the clergy as a representation of Christ's deity. For many years, it was even regarded in the same light as the diamond. Amethyst wasn't a gemstone that was valued by everyone; it didn't happen until more supplies were found.

Throughout history and even now, amethyst has been prized for both its beauty and symbolic meaning by many wearers. Amethyst, according to Leonardo da Vinci, boosts intelligence and dispels negative thoughts.

The amethyst gemstone is now highly prized for its stunning purple hue and ability to go well with both cold and warm hues.

March Birthstones - Aquamarine & Bloodstone

Aquamarine and bloodstone are the birthstones for March, the first month of spring.

Aquamarine

The calmness of its namesake, the sea, is evoked by the aquamarine's soothing hue. In actuality, the Latin words aqua, which means water, and marina, which means sea, are the sources of the name aquamarine.

Aquamarine is a mineral that can range in hue from light blue to dark blue and even blue-green, and has long been associated with the ocean and water.

Roman fishermen utilized the stone, which they referred to as "water of the sea," for protection, foresight when sailing, and good fortune when catching fish. The apostle St. Thomas, who regularly went by sea, was associated with aquamarine. It was also utilized by Roman doctors to cure bloating and overeating.

Greeks, Hebrews, Sumerians, and Egyptians all had a fondness for aquamarine gemstones. Mummies from Egypt were found with beads. The six Israelite tribes were said to be etched on aquamarine stones that were worn by the Second Temple's High Priest. Greeks fashioned aquamarine stones into intaglios by carving motifs into them two thousand years ago.

Aquamarine is popular because of its calming, cool tint. It matches any skin tone or environment well.

Bloodstone

Bloodstone, a dark-green gem with bright red iron oxide flecks, is the second birthstone for March. The main sources for this gemstone are India, Brazil, and Australia. It is typically found embedded in rocks or in riverbeds as pebbles.

Bloodstone was known as heliotrope in antiquity, which roughly translates from Greek as "sun-turning." Because it turned blood red in the setting light, it was given the name. It was said that the first bloodstone was created when Christ's blood stained jasper at the foot of the cross, forming a bloodstone.

Plasma is another name for bloodstones. It is opaque, deep green in color, with little to no red, as opposed to the heliotrope variant.

Chalcedony comes in the form of a bloodstone. The color of the stone depends on the number of chlorite particles present. Iron oxide is what causes the blood-like red patches. Gemstones can have a waxy or glassy sheen.

This stone may be found all over the world, including in countries like India, the US, Germany, Australia, and others.

April Birthstone - Diamond

The most valuable diamond of all is the birthstone for people who had the good fortune to be born in April. You are likely already aware of the diamond's durability. It is actually the hardest gemstone and contains only carbon.

It is 58 times tougher than anything in nature due to its structure. Only another diamond can be used to cut a diamond. While it has almost come to be associated with wedding engagements, it is also the ideal gemstone for those looking for something that can be worn on a daily basis as well as on special occasions.

The colors of diamond gemstones include brown, yellow, red, pink, blue, and green. They are either subtle or vivid in intensity. In general, the value is higher the more saturated the hue.

In actuality, diamonds with vivid color are uncommon and might cost more than a colorless diamond of the same size. Due to the high demand for fancy-colored diamonds, color may occasionally be added in a lab. These diamonds are appropriately referred to as "color-treated."

When cut and polished properly, the special physical characteristics of the diamond give it the finest conceivable shine of any gemstone. So the diamond is the gemstone for you if you're looking for "sparkle."

May Birthstone - Emerald

Birthdays in May occur in the peak of spring, and the emerald is the ideal jewel to represent and commemorate this season. The emerald is prized for its brilliant and lovely green color, and the rich and famous frequently wear them as statement items at important events. But this lovely diamond looks equally at home in a discrete pendant as it does in an elaborate tiara.

The word "emerald" comes from the Greek word "smaragdus," which means "green gem." An emerald's value increases with how dark or green it is. The most expensive emerald gemstones will have a striking green-blue hue.

Although some claim the oldest emeralds are 2.97 billion years old, emeralds were first mined in Egypt in 330 BC.

The most well-known historical figure to have treasured emeralds is perhaps Cleopatra. Even during her rule, she asserted ownership of every emerald mine in Egypt.

The Egyptians frequently interred rulers with emerald stones as a form of protection, in addition to using them in jewelry and their elaborate funeral rites.

The Muzo Indians of Colombia, who lived on the other side of the globe, had highly valued and well-hidden emerald mines. The Spanish conquistadors searched for these mines for almost twenty years because they were so well-hidden.

Today, emerald is not only a lovely gem to wear, but also a significant jewelry gift that the recipient will treasure. It represents loyalty, new beginnings, tranquility, and security. Elizabeth Taylor's renowned emerald pendant, which is still highly sought after by the wealthy and famous, sold in 2011 for $6.5 million.

June Birthstones - Pearl, Alexandrite, & Moonstone

Pearl

The only gemstones created by living things are pearls. Instead of a grain of sand as is popularly believed, mollusks create pearls by accumulating layers of calcium carbonate around minute irritants that become caught in their shells.

The best pearls have a naturally reflective shine that gives them a creamy white appearance and an iridescent sheen that reflects a variety of vibrant colors. Yellow, green, blue, brown, pink, purple, or black dyes are additional options for cultured freshwater pearls.

The majority of black pearls are grown because they are so uncommon in nature and aren't genuinely black; instead, they are green, purple, blue, or silver.

Originally found all over the world, pearls are now only naturally found in the seas of the Persian Gulf, close to Bahrain. One of the last natural pearl divers in the world, Australia still gathers natural pearls from the Indian Ocean.

Since at least ancient Greece, when people believed that pearls were the tears of the gods, pearls have been used as jewelry. The mausoleum of a Persian princess who passed away in 520 BC contained the earliest piece of pearl jewelry ever found.

Due to the prominence of the stone among the upper class during the sixteenth century, Tudor England was referred to as the Pearl Age. Royals wearing pearl jewelry and wearing pearl-encrusted garments were depicted in portraits.

Alexandrite

Alexandrite is a relatively recent gemstone that was found in Russian emerald mines in the Ural Mountains. According to legend, it was founded in 1834, the same year that future Russian Czar Alexander II reached legal adulthood; as a result, it bears his name.

Alexandrite has a contentious past that begins in Imperial Russia, where it was initially found in emerald mines close to the Tokovaya River in the Ural Mountains. Its Finnish discoverer initially thought it was an emerald until finding it had varied colors depending on the light.

Because it was found on Alexander II's birthday in 1834, according to folklore, this diamond was given his name. The official gemstone of Imperial Russia's Tsardom was alexandrite because its red and green tones matched that country's flag.

This unique, color-changing gemstone captured the attention of Russian jewelers. The chief gemologist at Tiffany & Co., George Frederick Kunz, also enjoyed it. Between the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century, he created a number of alexandrite rings. Victorian England also occasionally utilized alexandrite in jewelry.

Moonstone

Moonstone, the third birthstone for June, was given its name by the Roman naturalist Pliny, who noted that the stone's shimmering look changed with the moon's phases.

Since the dawn of human civilization, moonstone has been utilized as both a beautiful ornament and a potent talisman. It was revered by the Romans, who thought moonbeams had shaped it. Moonstone was connected to the lunar gods by both the Romans and the Greeks.

When he claimed that the shimmering aspect of moonstone changed with the phases of the moon, the Roman natural historian Pliny gave the stone its name. This notion persisted well into the sixteenth century.

Moonstone has been valued for many years and is still widely used and available. In regions of the world like Germany and Scandinavia, it is regarded as the birthstone for June above alexandrite and pearl.

July Birthstone - Ruby

The king of priceless stones is the ruby. For those fortunate enough to be born in July, the birthstone is ruby, the king of valuable gems. There is no finer gift than ruby gemstone jewelry, whether you're honoring a 15th or 40th wedding anniversary, demonstrating your affection for someone born in July, or any other occasion.

The mineral corundum's red variety, called ruby, is chromium-colored. Color is important for this royal stone because sapphire is the name given to all other colors of corundum that are gem-quality. Consequently, 'rubeus' is where the term "ruby" originates.

August Birthstones - Peridot, Sardonyx & Spinel

August is one of three birth months that are each symbolized by a different gem. In 2016, August joined June and December as one of the three birth months that are represented by three different gemstones. Sardonyx was the original birthstone for August, but then peridot was added and became the main gemstone for August. Spinel, which can be found in many different colors, gives August babies a lot of choices.

Peridot

The ubiquitous mineral olivine, which develops deep inside the Earth's mantle and is brought to the surface by volcanoes, has a rare gem-quality variant known as peridot. Peridot used to represent Pele's tears in Hawaii, where she is a volcano goddess of fire who governs the flow of lava. Peridot can occasionally be discovered inside meteorites.

Unlike many gemstones, peridot's distinctive green color is caused by the mineral's composition rather than minute impurities. This makes it one of the few gemstones that exclusively occurs in one color, albeit the shades can range from olive to brownish-green depending on the amount of iron present.

Sardonyx

Sardonyx is a reddish gemstone with white bands that is made by combining alternate layers of sard and onyx, two varieties of the layered material chalcedony.

Similar to this, its name combines the words sard and onyx, which refer to the ancient Persian city of Sardis, which is now in modern-day Turkey and where the red stone was discovered.

Sardonyx, which rates 6.5 on the Mohs scale of hardness, is readily accessible and reasonably priced as gemstones, beads, and jewelry. To display the contrast in color between the layers, it is frequently carved into cameos, intaglios, and brooches.

Spinel

Since it can resemble both, the spinel is frequently mistaken for either a ruby or a pink sapphire. In actuality, some of the most renowned rubies in historical times were discovered to be spinel. But what distinguishes it from other diamonds are its distinctive qualities, such as its octahedral crystal structure and single refraction. Additionally, spinel is less hard on the Mohs scale than sapphire and ruby.

The most sought-after spinel gemstone hue is vivid red, which is followed by cobalt blue, bright pink, and bright orange. Generally, gemstones with milder hues, like lavender, are cheaper. Spinel can also be found in the following colors: black, mauve, yellow, brown, green, violet-blue, grayish, and green.

September Birthstones - Sapphire

Sapphires are exquisite presents for September birthdays, 5th wedding anniversaries, and 45th wedding anniversaries. Whether you're looking for a traditional blue sapphire or another hue from the sapphire rainbow, you can't go wrong with this vibrant gemstone.

Although corundum's rich, blue gemstone variant is usually referred to as sapphire, this regal gemstone actually comes in a wide range of colors. There are sapphires in every color except red, which is categorized as ruby.

The words "sapphire" and "sappheiros," which both mean "blue stone" in Latin and Greek, respectively, may have originally referred to lapis lazuli. Some people think it derives from the Sanskrit phrase "beloved to Saturn," sanipriya.

Only diamond is harder than sapphires, which get a Mohs hardness of 9, which is extraordinary. They are valuable not only for jewelry but also for industrial uses including high-durability windows, watches, electronics, and scientific instruments.

The gemstone sapphire stands for fidelity, majesty, sincerity, and integrity.

A close up shot a rainbow gemstone
A close up shot a rainbow gemstone

October Birthstones - Opal & Tourmaline

Birthstones for October newborns include tourmaline and opal, which come in a rainbow of hues and color combinations. Between opal, which diffracts light to show a play of many colors, and tourmaline, whose color relies on trace components in its chemical composition, October's birthstones offer a broad spectrum of gemstones to fit anyone's specific preferences.

Opal

The Greek term opallios, which meant "to notice a change in color," is where the name "opal" comes from. When describing this gemstone's kaleidoscopic "play" of rainbow colors that could mimic the tones of any stone, the Roman scholar Pliny used the word "opalus."

When researchers in the 1960s discovered that opals are made of small silica spheres that diffract light to exhibit a range of rainbow colors, their distinctive "play-of-color" was finally understood. These glitzy gems are referred to as "precious opals." "Common opals" are those that lack play-of-color.

There are many different types of opal, but only a few, including fire opal and boulder opal, are well-known worldwide. Opals are frequently identified by their background "body color," which is either black or white.

Tourmaline

The Sinhalese words tura mali, which translate as "stone of mixed colors," are where the name "tourmaline" originates. Tourmaline, as its name suggests, stands out from other gemstones due to the wide range of hues it exhibits in all the colors of the rainbow.

Instead of being a single mineral, tourmaline is actually a highly complicated collection of minerals with a range of chemical and physical characteristics. Many of the resulting types have names of their own, and certain trace elements yield clearly defined hues.

Due to chemical variations during crystallization, tourmaline that has undergone partial coloring shows more than one hue. Pink and green are a typical color combo. The name "watermelon tourmaline" comes from the fact that these are frequently cut into slices to expose a red center around a green ring.

This gemstone's capacity to become electrically charged via pressure and heat (pyroelectricity) is among its most striking features (piezoelectricity). Tourmaline can function as a magnet by oscillating and attracting or repelling dust particles when charged.

November Birthstones - Topaz & Citrine

November babies have a choice between two cheery gemstones to warm up this gloomy month. Since topaz and citrine have such a similar appearance, they have frequently been confused throughout history. They are separate minerals, and topaz can be found in a variety of colors other than yellow.

Topaz and citrine, the birthstones for November, are both widely available and reasonably priced, even in large proportions, so everyone can find a way to fit them into their budget.

Topaz

For a large portion of history, topaz was supposed to be the only yellow gemstone, and all yellow gemstones were termed topaz. Topaz comes in a variety of hues and is probably unrelated to the stones that originally bore that name.

Citrine

Citrine, the second birthstone for November, is a form of quartz that is colored anywhere from pale yellow to brownish orange. Given these colors of lemon, it gets its name from the citron fruit.

December Birthstones - Tanzanite, Zircon, & Turquoise

The birthstones for December are tanzanite, zircon, and turquoise, which are far superior to the winter blues. The stunning blue hues of all three of the birthstones for December are their most well-known features. The oldest gemstone on Earth, one of the first to be mined and used in jewelry, and one of the most recent discoveries all fall under this category.

Even though the birthstones for December are less pricey, they are just as beautiful. Tanzanite frequently replaces sapphire, colorless zircon is a convincing alternative for diamond, and turquoise's robin's egg blue tint is unparalleled.

Tanzanite

The rare blue-purple form of the mineral zoisite called tanzanite is only found in one region of the world. Tanzanite, so named because of its narrow geographic origin in Tanzania, has rapidly gained prominence since it was only recently discovered.

Zircon

Due to their identical names and mutual use as diamond substitutes, manufactured cubic zirconia, and the underappreciated gemstone zircon are frequently mistaken. Zircon is a magnificent natural gemstone that comes in a range of colors, yet few people are aware of this.

Turquoise

Since antiquity, turquoise has been prized for its distinctive color, which ranges from powdered blue to a robin's egg green hue. Only a few minerals have given their names to things that mirror their remarkable color.

People Also Ask

What Were The Original Birthstones?

  • January Birthstone - Garnet
  • February Birthstones - Amethyst
  • March Birthstones - Aquamarine & Bloodstone
  • April Birthstone - Diamond
  • May Birthstone - Emerald
  • June Birthstones - Pearl, Alexandrite, & Moonstone
  • July Birthstone - Ruby
  • August Birthstones - Peridot, Sardonyx & Spinel
  • September Birthstones - Sapphire
  • October Birthstones - Opal & Tourmaline
  • November Birthstones - Topaz & Citrine
  • December Birthstones - Tanzanite, Zircon, & Turquoise

What Is The 2 Rarest Birthstone?

The most expensive and rarest gemstone on the list of birthstones is alexandrite. Additionally, black opals are also extremely rare.

Are Birthstones Biblical?

According to some experts, birthstones date all the way back to the Bible. Moses gives instructions for sewing special clothing for Aaron, the Hebrews' High Priest, in Exodus 28. Twelve priceless gemstones, signifying the twelve tribes of Israel, were to be embedded in the breastplate.

Final Thought

Birthstones are highly popular to wear in rings, bracelets, pendants, and earrings due to their long history and vibrant, dazzling colors. They are wonderful, individualized presents for loved ones as a way to express your affection.

I hope you enjoy reading the rich history of the ancient birthstone chart!

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