Experts claim that the first time something got mentioned about birthstones, was in the Bible. Moses' brother, Aaron, wore a breastplate with twelve stones in it. These twelve stones later became known as the birth stones.
According to experts the origin of birthstones can be traced back to the first century, namely the Bible. Aaron, who is Moses’ brother and High Priest of the Israelites, had a breastplate which contained 12 different stones. This ornament is known as “Aarons breastplate".
The 12 stones represented the twelve tribes of Israel.
In all versions of Exodus you will find different variations of this Breastplate, but the most common version is the following:
1st row: carnelian - chrysolite - beryl
2nd row: turquoise - lapis lazuli - emerald
3rd row: jacinth - agate - amethyst
4th row: topaz - onyx - jasper
When you look up the Breastplate you will find many other variations, like the one you see here.
Unfortunately, nobody comes to agreement on which stones exactly were in the Breastplate…
Evolution to the present
One Jewish historian of the first century, named Josephus, believed there was a significant connection between the twelve stones in Aaron’s breastplate – standing for the twelve tribes of Israel, the twelve months of the year and the twelve different zodiac signs.
But it wasn’t until the 17th century that people started wearing the gemstone according to their birth month the whole year around. Before that time it was common to own the 12 different birthstones and to change them accordingly each month. Even in the Middle Ages people still couldn’t get to an agreement about which list of birthstones was correct. People were using different lists of different versions of the Exodus.
This kept on causing a lot of confusion among the people, so in 1912 the American National Jewelers' Association put together a new birthstones list. This list, with the addition of tanzanite in 2002 and spinel in 2016 is the one we still use today.