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Birthstones in Silver Jewelry: A Window on the Past


The twelve different months of the year each bear a corresponding affiliate gemstone known as a birthstone. These birthstones are said to possess mystical qualities and bring good fortune to the bearer. While the origin of the concept of the birthstone is somewhat sketchy, there seems to be some consensus that Aaron, brother of Moses, crafted a breast plate of the high priest some twenty centuries ago, depicting the twelve tribes of Israel as cited in the book of Exodus. An artist's rendering of such a breast plate can be seen pictured below. The association with the number twelve assumed great significance as, the twelve sons of Jacob were the ancestors of the Twelve tribes of Israel, Jesus had twelve apostles, there were twelve foundation stones of the Holy City, twelve months of the year, and twelve signs of the zodiac.

High preist's breastplate symbolizes the 12 tribes of Israel 

Birthstone Classification:

There are essentially three different modes of classifying birthstones, specifically:

  1. Modern birthstones as defined by a list from 1912 published by Jewelers of America organization here in the United States.
  2. Traditional birthstones which are the original list from the 1600's set forth in Tibet, which set the precedent for today's birthstone jewelry.
  3. Mystical list of birthstones which points to the healing and qualities of lore associated with the birthstones.

Most jewelers utilize the modern list of birthstones which also incorporates alternative gemstones for each of the months, although some say this is driven by commercial gain rather than historical accuracy and aesthetics. Plum Island Silver offers an easy to read table, which lists the month, a small picture, its corresponding modern birthstone, its permutations through the different classification schemes, along with a brief description of the birthstone.

Table of Birthstones Based on the Various Modes of Classification:

Modern Birthstone
Traditional Birthstone
Mystical Birthstone
Garnet is a beautiful birthstone for January.GarnetGarnetEmerald

Garnet refers to a family of gemstones rather than a single type and composition of a single gemstone

Amethyst birthstone is said to possess many healing qualitiesAmethystAmethystBloodstoneAmethyst, like many gemstones, is said to possess a number of mystical and healing qualities such as rebirth, stress reliever, as well as healer of mind, body and soul.
Clear sky blue color is highly typical of aquamarine.AquamarineBloodstoneJadeLight colored blue with crystal clear transparency is characteristic of aquamarine which, like emerald, is a member of the beryl family.
With a hardness of 10 on the Moh's scale , diamond is the hardest of the gemstonesDiamondDiamondOpalDiamonds are the hardest gemstone found on earth.
Some of the deepest colored and highest quality emeralds are found in BrazilEmeraldEmeraldSapphireWhile emeralds are found in many countries throughout the world, Columbia and Brazil produce the most and best emeralds found on our planet.
Pearls are a wonderful choice for any deserving  ladyPearl, Moonstone AlexandriteMoonstoneThe largest pearl was found in Scotland and weighed 44 grains. See a wonderful collection of June birthstone jewelry at
The best quality of rubies can be more costly than diamondsRubyRubyRubyRuby and sapphire are both a variation of the mineral corundum.
Olivene is the mineral name from which peridot is derivedPeridotSardonyxDiamondOlivine is the corresponding magnesium-rich silicate mineral from which peridot originates.
The Milennium Sapphire is the world's largest cut and polished sapphireSapphireSapphireAgateMany fine examples of superior quality sapphires exist throughout history including the Logan Sapphire Brooch.
Several legends surronding the rainbow colors of the opal add to its mystiqueOpal, Tourmaline TourmalineJasperThe gemstone opal is formed by a chemical interaction of silica, liquids and complex geologic processes.
The term Topaz comes from the ancient language of Sanskrit and refers to fire or flameYellow Topaz, Citrine CitrinePearlPink, yellow, and blue topaz are the most common colors of topaz used with silver jewelry.
Diiferent intensities of color are defined by the terms london blue, swiss blue, and sky blue, all of which describe blue topazBlue Topaz, Turquoise Zircon, Turquoise, Lapis Lazuli OnyxBlue topaz is often irradiated to enhance the intensity and quality of color.

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