birthstones – the year in gems, part 1

January 6, 2012 at 7:50 am 1 comment

The concept of birthstones is a time honoured tradition that stretches across Tibetan, Indian & Western cultures, but did you know that it was first marketed by Tiffany & Co. in 1870?

According to Indian Aruveydic philosophy, practiced for over 1500 years, every person is assigned a birthstone that corresponds to his or her nature.  In Tibet, a person’s “mystical birthstone” is honoured in a tradition that dates back at least 1000 years.  “In the Western Middle Ages, stones were thought to have properties linked to the cycles of the zodiac, which were based on the Gregorian calendar. The powers of a particular stone were heightened during its corresponding month.”  In 15th Century Poland, “it was not uncommon for wealthy people to own jewelry in the 12 different stones of the Zodiac, and to rotate them monthly.”

“In order to standardize the birthstone system and make the birthstones relatively equal in value, the association Jewelers of America produced a new list of birthstones in 1812. A notable change to the list of birthstones was that the June birthstone  was changed from the expensive moonstone to the more affordable pearl, though moonstones continued to be popular as June birthstones for the remainder of the century.”

“In 1870, Tiffany & Co. sought to popularize the birthstone tradition by marketing jewelry to consumers based on their birth month. They published a pamphlet with a Gregorian birthstone poem and encouraged customers to give birthstone jewelry as birthday and anniversary presents.”  (It is unknown whether the poems were written long ago or simply as part of a clever marketing plan.)  The poems are as follows;

By her who in January was born
No gem save Garnets shall be worn
They will ensure her constancy
True friendship and fidelity.

The February born shall find
Sincerity and peace of mind,
Freedom from passion and from care,
If they, the Amethyst will wear.

By her who in March was born
No gem save Bloodstone shall be worn
They will ensure her constancy
True friendship and fidelity.

She who from April dates her years,
Diamonds shall wear,
lest bitter tears
For vain repentance flow.

Who first beholds the light of day
In spring’s sweet, flower month of May
And wears an Emerald all her life
Shall be a loved and a loving wife.

By her who in June was born
No gem save Pearls shall be worn
They will ensure her constancy
True friendship and fidelity.

The gleaming Ruby should adorn,
All those who in July are born,
For thus they’ll be exempt and free,
From lover’s doubts and anxiety.

Wear a Peridot or for thee,
No conjugal fidelity,
The August born without this stone,
`Tis said, must live unloved; alone.

A maiden born when autumn leaves
Are rustling in September‘s breeze,
A Sapphire on her brow should bind;
To bring her joy and peace of mind.

October‘s child is born for woe,
And life’s vicissitudes must know,
But lay an Opal on her breast,
And hope will lull those woes to rest.

Who first comes to this world below
In dreary November‘s fog and snow,
Should prize the Topaz amber hue,
Emblem of friends and lovers true.

If cold December gave you birth
The month of snow and ice and mirth
Place on your hand a Turquoise blue;
Success will bless whate’er you do.

—Gregorian Birthstone Poems, author unknown

While birthstone jewelry is no longer associated with specific virtues or powers, the tradition of giving birthstone jewelry as gifts has continued and is enjoying something of a surge in popularity.”

portions of article written by: Alex Katznelson


Entry filed under: information, trends. Tags: , , , , , , , .

Happy New Year! birthstones – the year in gems, part two

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