History of Birthstones in the USA

July 18, 2013 by soumyadipsaha  
Published in Shopping

Diamonds are a girl’s best friend, or so Marilyn Monroe told us via song in the 1953 film Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.

Nicole Kidman reinforced the message by singing the same song in the 2001 musical Moulin Rouge, and certainly diamonds can be a girl’s best friend, but arguably only for those who were born in the month of April, since this is the birthstone for that particular month. This can actually be a great money saving device for someone on a budget (“I know you wanted a diamond ring, but you were born in June, so I got you pearl earrings instead”). There are a number of historical influences on just what are currently considered the birthstones for each respective month, and the concept is enjoying a renewed popularity due to the heavily personalized nature of a birthstone gift.

Quite an Ancient Tradition…

There are references to birthstones that date all the way back to biblical times, and the contemporary idea of birthstones started to gain popularity in Europe in the mid 1500’s. It was quite a few years later that the accepted list of month by month birthstones was drafted- it appeared in 1912.

Poetry and Birthstones

The 1912 list drew its inspiration from poems created for each month, and these poems were reproduced by Tiffany & Co (best known for the film Breakfast at Tiffany’s). There are some regional variations, but for the most part, the 1912 list is accepted as definitive the whole world over.

The Definitive List

If you’re born in January, your birthstone is a garnet. For February, it’s an amethyst. For March babies, there’s a choice of an aquamarine or a bloodstone. For those lucky enough to be born in April, it’s a diamond. May gets an emerald, whereas June gets the choice of a pearl, a moonstone, or the relatively obscure alexandrite. Those born in July would receive a ruby, and August gets a peridot. September gets a sapphire; October gets the choice of an opal or a tourmaline. The November birthstone is a topaz or a citrine, and December babies get to choose between a turquoise, zircon or tanzanite.

Over The Years

There have been a few variations to the list over the years, and the 1912 list is slightly different to the one used nowadays. The major difference is that a number of stones have been added to various months, and as you can see, both June and December have three different stones to choose from.

Who Decides?

While the birthstone list is steeped in tradition, any modern amendments are sadly quite unremarkable- you might think that a legion of craftsmen meet in secret to determine whether a gem is worthy of being added… but no, it’s simply a decision made by the Jewelry Industry Council of American depending on whether certain stones are popular or even so widely available anymore.

Simply presenting your loved one with a birthstone is not as easy as it might sound, since of course the stone is presented in a piece of jewelry, and this can make the selection of a birthstone gift rather tricky. Thankfully there are a number of online resources that will make the job a heck of a lot easier, and http://www.birthstonebox.com/ is a great place to start.

This guest post was written by Allen Marsh. He is a freelance writer who shares his fashion tips on various blogs.

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