According to some sources, the tradition of a birthstone dates back to biblical times. For example, in the New Testament, Book of Revelation, Chapter 21, Verses 19 & 20, it reads:
"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."

The assignment of stones to months was based upon the Roman calendar at that time.

Over time, birthstone assignment has varied widely throughout the world. It wasn't until 1912 that a committee known as the Jewelers of America put into place the list you see below. This assignment is the most commonly used list in the United States (as well as in Australia and Thailand, according to Wikipedia).

  Aries   (March 21 - April 19) birthstone is:     Diamond

  Taurus   (April 20 - May 20) birthstone is:     Emerald

  Gemini   (May 21 - June 21) birthstone is:     Pearl

  Cancer   (June 22 - July 22) birthstone is:     Ruby

  Leo   (July 23 - August 22) birthstone is:     Peridot

  Virgo   (August 23 - September 22) birthstone is:     Sapphire

  Libra   (September 23 - October 22) birthstone is:     Pink Tourmaline

  Scorpio   (October 23 - November 21) birthstone is:     Topaz

  Sagittarius   (November 22 - December 21) birthstone is:     Blue Topaz

  Capricorn   (December 22 - January 19) birthstone is:     Garnet

  Aquarius   (January 20 - February 18) birthstone is:     Amethyst

  Pisces   (February 19 - March 20) birthstone is:    Aquamarine

Would you like to buy some jewelry containing your favourite gemstone? I am committed to educating the public about ecologically responsible, conflict-free gems. Please read all about conflict-free stones here, and then enjoy shopping at Fred Meyer Jewelers and other responsible jewelers!

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Chart analysis provided by Stephanie, Copyright 2002-2008.