The Influence of Birthstones

Pages: 23 (9275 words) Published: January 12, 2014
Birth Stones
The first association of a special gem with each month was recorded in the Bible, in Exodus 28 and 39. An original breastplate of the High Priest of the Hebrews was said to be made by Moses in 1250 BC, according to instructions he received during 40 days in the mountains. The 12 gems in the breastplate were later linked with the signs of the zodiac, and later still associated with the months in the year. Different cultures have different lists. Jewelers’ lists are often inconsistent. Unless you’re a geologist, the terminology of birthstones may be a bit confusing. So here’s a quick primer on birthstone terms. Minerals are made of inorganic materials (substances that were never alive), whose atoms are arranged in a regular pattern, or crystal. Rocks are made up of one or more minerals. Most people also include clay, sand and limestones in the rock category. Gemstones are a special subgroup of highly prized minerals. Gems are usually clearer, rarer, and more beautiful than other minerals. Color, luster and hardness are also important qualities that can set gems apart from other minerals. But there’s no hard and fast rule as to which minerals cut it as gems and which don’t. It’s mostly a matter of custom. What’s the difference between precious and semi-precious gems? Most gems can be divided into precious and semi-precious. Only the most rare and expensive gems are classified as precious. Diamonds, emeralds, rubies, pearls, and sapphires are all considered precious gems. Most remaining gems – such as varieties of quartz (including amethyst, opal, and bloodstone) – are semiprecious. The image at the top of this post is an artist’s concept of tiny specks of minerals found in the gemstones peridot, sapphires, and rubies, seen blowing in the winds of a quasar. Astronomers using NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope found evidence that such quasar winds might have forged these dusty particles in the very early universe. Traditionally, a birthstone is associated with each month of the year. For example, the birthstone for January is a garnet, while lucky babies born in April get a diamond as their birthstone. The origin of birthstones is believed to date back to the breastplate of Aaron which contained twelve gemstones representing the twelve tribes of Israel. The current list dates back to 1912 with only one addition since then – the tanzanite was added to December. There are numerous legends and myths about birthstone healing powers and their therapeutic influence. According to these legends, wearing a gemstone during its assigned month heightened its healing powers. For the full effect, individuals needed to own all twelve and alternate them monthly. Birthstones are special stones associated with each month of the year. They have a place in history, mythology and science. Check out the special story of your birthstone.

January’s birthstone is the garnet.
The name “garnet” is derived from the Latin “granatum” meaning “pomegranate” because the crystals resemble the red color and seed-like form of this fruit. Most people think of the garnet as a red gemstone, but in fact, it exists in all kinds of colors, such as black, many shades of red and green, or even colorless. The garnet’s variety of colors comes from metals such as manganese, iron, calcium, and aluminum. Some varieties even contain mineral fibers that produce the illusion of a four- or six-rayed star within the stone. Green garnets are most highly prized but are very rare. Emerald green and colorless stones are highly valued, followed by pure red garnets. Garnets are commonly found as small pebbles in streams, where the igneous and metamorphic rocks that contain them have weathered away. They’re found in many places around the world, including North and South America, Australia, India, Asia and Spain. Ancient warriors believed that garnets brought victory. The Crusaders used them as protection against wounds and accidents during their journeys. In contrast,...
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