The birthstones we associate with certain months now are not necessarily the same ones as those used centuries ago. Originally, they related to the 12 gemstones appearing on the breastplate of the High Priest of the Hebrews, one for each of the 12 tribes of Israel.
Throughout the Middle Ages in Europe people used birthstones as charms of luck, divination, or even spell casting. But, for the wealthy, wearing all 12 stones at once like Aaron did was en vogue, a look copied by 16th century Queen of France, Catherine De’Medici, who was said to have worn a belt adorned with 12 gemstones each carved into talismans though we don’t know exactly which stones may have been used. Flash forward to the 20th century and the stones were clearly laid out.
The list was created in 1912 by the American National retail Jewelers Association (JA) & has only been through 2 changes in the past century…the latest change adding spinel marks the third alteration ever made to the 104-year-old list. The birthstone list was first updated in 1952 adding alexandrite, citrine, tourmaline and zircon. In 2002 the list was again updated to include tanzanite and most recently in 2016 to include spinel for August.
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