The idea of birthstones, as we know it today, comes from the Judeo-Christian tradition.
Natal stones are mentioned in the writings of Josephus in the 1st century AD, and later by St Jerome in the early 5th century. They originally depicted the 12 stones in the breastplate of Aaron (also known as the high priest's breast plate), mentioned in Exodus, each of which represented a month of the year or sign of the zodiac. The Book of Revelations refers to the same stones, with some variation, as the foundation stones of the New Jerusalem. In the 9th century analogies were made between these stones and the apostles, and virtues assigned to them accordingly.
It wasn't until the 18th century, starting in either Poland or Germany, that it became fashionable to wear birthstones. Up until that time, crystals and stones were worn mainly for their specific therapeutic properties, protection, or ability to fulfil desires, and of course for decoration. There is also some speculation that early Christians associated the wearing of birthstones to have its origins in paganism, and were therefore slow to adopt the practise.
In 1912 the National Association of Jewellers (US) met in Kansas City, and agreed on a list of birthstones for each month, based loosely on the many lists from various versions of the breastplate and Foundation Stones. One source from the period states that this was for simplicity and convenience, but a later, more cynical source suggests that this was as a result of astrology falling out of favour, and purely a commercial attempt to make birthstones acceptable again.
With the advent of the New Age movement in the 1980's, many more stones were added to the list by crystal healers. These are based largely on the element of the star sign, as different crystals also represent the elements earth, air, fire and water. In her book, Love is in the Earth, Melody assigns one or more star signs to each stone. Judy hall, in The Crystal Zodiac, brings this a step further and suggest birthstones for ascendants and moons as well.
As you can see, there are many, many different interpretations. Below are listed the main birthstones for each star sign, followed by some of the other suggested stones from various sources.
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