- Katherine Oh
Did you know: 12 Birthstones were inspired from the Bible
Where there is a counterfeit, there is an original. You learn to differentiate a counterfeit by familiarizing yourself with the authentic. Which leads me to this, have you ever wondered where did the 12 Birthstones come from?
Lately, I have been exploring the world of gemstones. Mostly out of curiosity, and their irresistible sparkle. Although I am born in July, I have varied preferences. I must say my favourites are opals, jade and garnets, even though, according to my "birthstone month", I should be wearing rubies. Oh, I have never ever subscribed to that. When you find out how birthstones were really a marketing tactic; like me, you will probably scoff at how nonsensical it is. I am an ardent believer of - wear what you like!
So here is the truth: The idea of birthstones—that the month of your birth corresponds to a special gemstone - was really institutionalized in 1912 by an organization called "The Jewelers of America". No prizes for guessing why they did what they did - for commercial interest of course!
This is the reason why some "lucky" people get diamonds (April). Others are stuck with the more boring garnet (January) or the esoteric peridot (August).
But did you know, that the list of birthstones have been changed a number of times. The earlier list has one stone for each month, however some of the modern Birth Stone lists have 2 to 3 gems for a month. So much for the idea of birthstones and how they are "sacred" to a specific month.
Let's trace the true source of the 12 sacred precious stones back in history, back to the bible. It was first mentioned in the chapter of Exodus, that Aaron the High Priest wore a special breastplate that had 12 gemstones.
On Mt. Sinai God gave Moses the 10 Commandments (Exodus 20: 1-17). In Exodus 28 the Lord tells Moses to separate his brother Aaron from the rest of the Hebrews and appoint him High Priest. A garment was made to distinguish the High Priest from all the other Jews. The Lord inspired exactly the pattern of the breastplate for Aaron’s garment and the materials and gems for decoration:
[Exodus 28:15-21] “Fashion a breastpiece for making decisions—the work of skilled hands. Make it like the ephod: of gold, and of blue, purple and scarlet yarn, and of finely twisted linen. It is to be square—a span long and a span wide (9” by 9”)—and folded double. Then mount four rows of precious stones on it. The first row shall be carnelian, chrysolite and beryl; the second row shall be turquoise, lapis lazuli and emerald; the third row shall be jacinth, agate and amethyst; the fourth row shall be topaz, onyx and jasper. Mount them in gold filigree settings. There are to be twelve stones, one for each of the names of the sons of Israel, each engraved like a seal with the name of one of the twelve tribes.
In Revelation, the last book of the Bible, there are also another mention of 12 gemstones, not the same set as the one wore by Aaron the priest, that become part of the new foundation of the New Jerusalem.
[Revelation 21: 19-20] "And the foundations of the wall of the city were garnished with all manner of precious stones. The first foundation was jasper; the second, sapphire; the third, a chalcedony; the fourth, an emerald; the fifth, sardonyx; the sixth, sardius; the seventh, chrysolite; the eighth, beryl; the ninth, a topaz; the tenth, a chrysoprasus; the eleventh, a jacinth; the twelfth, an amethyst."
12 has a special significance in the Bible. There are 12 months in the Hebrew calendar, there are 12 hours in a day and 12 hours in a night, the Jews had 12 tribes, Jesus picked 12 Apostles and so on.
Over time, astrologers began to attribute one gemstone to each of the 12 months of the year, as well as the 12 zodiac/horoscope signs. There were also myths started by early astrologers and even mystics that each gemstone is believed to have healing powers or protection from evil to the people born in each respective month. Now it is also adopted and popularised by the new age.
Now that you know the truth, it shall set you free. Why dabble with half-truths when you can go directly to the original source? The Creator of Heaven and Earth, the One who is in the beginning and the end. The Original who inspired the 12 Birthstones. The Genesis of it all. YHVH.
And so I conclude with the same words in the beginning of this story, "Where there is a counterfeit, there is an original. You learn to differentiate a counterfeit by being acquainted with the authentic!"
I have also started a curated selection of semi-precious gemstone jewelry set in 925 silver and electroplated in rose gold. Each design is unique. No repeats! Check out The Secret Vault !
Read more from https://www.atlasobscura.com/articles/why-the-man-who-popularized-birthstones-in-america-came-to-loathe-his-creation