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Birthstone Traditions

While it's said that a birthstone holds the strongest power for the person born in its month, anyone can wear the gemstones and benefit from their beauty and healing energies.

Birthstone Traditions

Western Customary Birthstones: The origin of birthstones is believed to date back to the breastplate of Aaron which contained twelve gemstones representing the twelve tribes of Israel. The idea of birthstones has a place in many traditions, customs, and belief systems. The first century Jewish historian Josephus believed there was a connection between the twelve stones in Aaron's breastplate (signifying the tribes of Israel, as described in the Book of Exodus), the twelve months of the year, and the twelve signs of the zodiac. Translations and interpretations of the passage in Exodus regarding the breastplate have varied widely, with Josephus himself giving two different lists for the twelve stones. George Frederick Kunz argues that Josephus saw the breastplate of the Second Temple, not the one described in Exodus. St. Jerome, referencing Josephus, said the Foundation Stones of the New Jerusalem (Revelation 21:19–20) would be appropriate for Christians to use.
Traditional Birthstones: Ancient traditional birthstones are society-based birthstones, often reflecting Polish tradition. There are poems which match each month of the Gregorian calendar with a birthstone. These are traditional stones of English-speaking societies. Tiffany & Co. published these poems "of unknown author" for the first time in a pamphlet in 1870.
"Official" or "Modern" Birthstones: In 1912, in an effort to standardize birthstones, the (American) National Association of Jewelers (now called Jewelers of America) met in Kansas and officially adopted a list. The Jewelry Industry Council of America updated the list in 1952 by adding Alexandrite for June, citrine for November and pink tourmaline for October. They also replaced December's lapis with zircon and switched the primary/alternative gems for March. The American Gem Trade Association added tanzanite as a December birthstone in 2002. In 2016, the American Gem Trade Association and Jewelers of America added spinel as an additional birthstone for August. Britain's National Association of Goldsmiths created their own standardized list of birthstones in 1937.


Eastern Traditional Birthstones: Eastern cultures recognize a similar range of gemstones associated with birth, though rather than associating a gem with a birth month, gemstones are associated with celestial bodies, and astrology is employed to determine the gemstones most closely associated with and beneficial to a particular individual. For example, in Hinduism there are nine gemstones associated with the Navagraha (celestial forces including the planets, the sun, and the moon), known in Sanskrit as Navaratna (nine gems). At birth, an astrological chart is calculated, and certain stones are recommended to be worn on the body to ward off potential problems based on the place of these forces in the sky at the exact place and time of birth.
  • Mystical birthstones: Based on the Tibetan birthstone chart dating back thousands of years. A mystical birthstone represents the spiritual world, which is why some people prefer these types of birthstones to modern ones.
  • Ayurvedic birthstones: Ayurvedic birthstones date back to ancient Indian culture, who believed in specific stones having certain healing powers. They date back as far as 1500 B.C., and are linked closely with the ancient practices of Indian medicine.


Determine Birthstone by Zodiac Sign 

If you know the Zodiac sign of the person you would like to gift a birthstone to, but do not know their exact birthday, this chart can help. Because zodiac signs have different beginning and ending dates than do the months of the year, you will have to find their sign, and determine which birthstone of the two months suits them best.

Aries: March 21- April 20

Taurus: April 21- May 20

Gemini: May 21- June 21

Cancer: June 22- July 22

Leo: July 23- August 23

Virgo: August 24- September 23

Libra: September 24- October 23

Scorpio: October 24- November 22

Sagittarius: November 23- December 21

Capricorn: December 22- January 20

Aquarius: January 21- February 19

Pisces: February 20- March 20

Find your birthstone by month - click HERE


Informational sources for the birthstone informational pages include and are not limited to: Mindat, Smithsonian, Gem Society, GIA, "Fifty Minerals that Changed the Course of History" by- Eric Chaline, "The Curious Lore of Precious Stones" by- George Frederick Kunz, Wikipedia, American Gem Society,, my own research summaries (Kai)