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There are a number of different theories about the development of "birthstones" - the association of specific precious and semi-precious stones with particular months of the year - although one of the earliest references to this idea is in the Judaic Exodus wherein a High Priest wears a breastplate with twelve stones, each representing one of the Twelve Tribes of Israel. The correlation between these twelve stones and the twelve Egyptian months that were used at the time was probably the foundation in the western world for the idea of birthstones.
Because gemstones have always been associated with mystical powers from the earliest times, it was natural for them to be associated from the formative years of astrology with particular Zodiacal signs. As the dates of the Zodiac signs changed so that the influence runs from the second half of one month across the first half of the next, some associations stayed with the signs while others stayed with the months themselves.
The popular usage of birthstones was reported to start as late as the fifteenth or sixteenth century in Poland, although there is also some suggestion that they were used extensively in the Eastern world long before that. To date, there is little agreement on which stone is definitely associated with each month, although the Jewelers of America set forth a list of modern birthstones in 1912 that is used commonly today, especially in jewelry stores.
|Sheri Ann Richerson|