Birthstones

At a guess, you first discovered your birthstone as a child or teenager. There’s something thrilling about finding out which gorgeous gem is ‘yours’, then dreaming of how to wear it: on your fingers, around your neck, set into a bracelet or earrings...

You wouldn’t be the first to fall in love with the tradition. The story of birthstones stretches right back to the Book of Exodus, in which God orders Aaron – a
high priest during the time of Moses – to create a breastplate with 12 gemstones. Breastplates were decorative religious garments, and these gemstones came to represent the 12 tribes of Israel. 

From there, the symbolism of gemstones began to shift. Scholars point to a first century Jewish philosopher – Flavius Josephus – who believed they had therapeutic benefits when worn at different points in the astrological calendar.

Hundreds of years later, when Polish-Jewish gem traders started emigrating to America in the 1700s, they brought with them a new trend: wearing just one stone. That stone, of course, was their birthstone. The thinking was (thanks to Flavius, probably) that ‘your’ stone was the one that had the most powers during your birth month. Then in 1912, the modern list of birthstones as we know it today was created in the US by the National Association of Jewelers. 

There is another, lesser-known list that matches different stones with the days of the week. Its origins are unknown, but it’s all about bringing good luck. So, if you have a job interview on Thursday, garnet is your go-to. For Monday it’s Pearls, for Tuesday it’s rubies, Wednesday is sapphires and Friday means emeralds. Need some luck on the weekend? Try diamonds on Saturday and a yellow stone on Sunday.

Of course, if you’re not totally sold on your own birthstone, there’s nothing stopping you from trying out some of the others. Precious stones are one of the most gorgeous examples of nature’s handiwork, and that’s something to be celebrated no matter when your birth date falls.