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.
There are essentially three different modes of classifying birthstones, specifically:
- Modern birthstones as defined by a list from 1912 published by Jewelers of America organization here in the United States.
- Traditional birthstones which are the original list from the 1600's set forth in Tibet, which set the precedent for today's birthstone jewelry.
- 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:
Garnet refers to a family of gemstones rather than a single type and composition of a single gemstone
|Amethyst||Amethyst||Bloodstone||Amethyst, 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.|
|Aquamarine||Bloodstone||Jade||Light colored blue with crystal clear transparency is characteristic of aquamarine which, like emerald, is a member of the beryl family.|
|Diamond||Diamond||Opal||Diamonds are the hardest gemstone found on earth.|
|Emerald||Emerald||Sapphire||While emeralds are found in many countries throughout the world, Columbia and Brazil produce the most and best emeralds found on our planet.|
|Pearl, Moonstone||Alexandrite||Moonstone||The largest pearl was found in Scotland and weighed 44 grains. See a wonderful collection of June birthstone jewelry at zulumoon.com|
|Ruby||Ruby||Ruby||Ruby and sapphire are both a variation of the mineral corundum.|
|Peridot||Sardonyx||Diamond||Olivine is the corresponding magnesium-rich silicate mineral from which peridot originates.|
|Sapphire||Sapphire||Agate||Many fine examples of superior quality sapphires exist throughout history including the Logan Sapphire Brooch.|
|Opal, Tourmaline||Tourmaline||Jasper||The gemstone opal is formed by a chemical interaction of silica, liquids and complex geologic processes.|
|Yellow Topaz, Citrine||Citrine||Pearl||Pink, yellow, and blue topaz are the most common colors of topaz used with silver jewelry.|
|Blue Topaz, Turquoise||Zircon, Turquoise, Lapis Lazuli||Onyx||Blue topaz is often irradiated to enhance the intensity and quality of color.|