What is your birthstone? Have you ever wondered why? I have been learning more about each month as research for this blog and have been interested in diving more into the history of how each month was assigned its stone. December, for instance, is turquoise, which is simply odd to me. I set out to find the answers, only to find few. It is truly a history mystery! However, birthstones are still fun, pretty, and special. They are a great reminder of what makes us each unique and a nice way to celebrate the day we came into this world.

Here’s what I found out…

Where did birthstones come from?

The Bible?

The concept of having each month assigned a precious gem or stone undoubtedly comes from Biblical times. The book of Exodus describes Aaron’s breastplate as having 12 stones. Historians just hundreds of years later interpreted this as relating to both the 12 months of the year and also the 12 Zodiac signs. 

Recreation of the high priest’s breastplate in front of the central Sephardic synagogue in Ramat Gan, Israel


For centuries there would be various traditions of wearing or displaying specific stones each month, with different countries using their own list. It was difficult for me to pin down an exact origin. Some sources I found gave credit to Poland, while others mention Germany or India. What is entirely unknown is how each stone was selected. 

In 1879 A Christmas Ring was published, providing their own poems for each birthstone. The introduction cites Poland as being the source of the tradition: 

“It is a Polish superstition that each month of the year has a particular Gem attached to it, which governs it, and is supposed to influence the destiny of those born in that month. It is therefore common for friends and lovers to present each other some trinket containing the “Tutelary Gem,” accompanied by an appropriate wish or compliment.”

Tiffany and Co?

Whatever the case, good old-fashioned marketing may have been what has helped the tradition stay steady to this day. In 1870 Tiffany and Co published a pamphlet with a short poem for each month’s stone. They did not come up with the concept nor did they make the assignments, but did help to formalize the custom. I am including each poem in this post, keep reading! 

In 1912 the National Association of Jewelers met to agree to a list. While this further solidified things, in my mind it adds to the mystery of the origin as the list is mostly the same as that found in the Tiffany poems. The list was updated in 1952. The chart below shows the evolution: 

Month1912 BirthstoneChanges in 1952

Marchaquamarine, bloodstonenone
Junepearl, moonstoneadded alexandrite
Octoberopaladded pink tourmaline
Novembertopazadded citrine
Decemberturquoise, zirconremoved zircon, added lapis
Source: Love To Know

The assignment of birthstones continues to evolve. Read more here: Rocks On: The Evolution of the Birthstone List

Let’s take a look at each month’s stone! 



By her who in January was born 
No gem save garnets shall be worn 
They will ensure her constancy 
True friendship and fidelity.



The February born shall find
Sincerity and peace of mind,
Freedom from passion and from care,
If they, the amethyst will wear.



By her who in March was born
No gem save Bloodstone shall be worn
They will ensure her constancy
True friendship and fidelity.



She who from April dates her years, 
Diamonds shall wear,
lest bitter tears
For vain repentance flow.



Who first beholds the light of day
In spring’s sweet, flower month of May
And wears an Emerald all her life
Shall be a loved and a loving wife.



By her who in June was born
No gem save Pearls shall be worn
They will ensure her constancy
True friendship and fidelity.



The gleaming Ruby should adorn,
All those who in July are born,
For thus they’ll be exempt and free,
From lover’s doubts and anxiety.



Wear a Peridot or for thee,
No conjugal fidelity,
The August born without this stone,
`Tis said, must live unloved; alone.



A maiden born when autumn leaves
Are rustling in September’s breeze,
A Sapphire on her brow should bind;
To bring her joy and peace of mind.



October’s child is born for woe,
And life’s vicissitudes must know,
But lay an opal on her breast,
And hope will lull those woes to rest.



Who first comes to this world below
In dreary November’s fog and snow,
Should prize the topaz amber hue,
Emblem of friends and lovers true.



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.

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