Searching For The Meaning — And Shopping For The Baubles — Behind Birthstone Jewelry

The origin of birthstones supposedly dates back to the biblical era, and are based on a Hebrew high priest’s ceremonial garment embedded with 12 stones, each representing one of Israel’s original tribes. As history progressed, enterprising Medieval scholars saw a correspondence between the stones and the stars, and the gems acquired an association with the astrological signs of the Greco-Roman zodiac. In the early 20th century, Tiffany outlined monthly birthstones in their “Natal Stones” pamphlet, borrowing from a host of influences (astrology, Western religion, and, uh, market availability). Their list was finally standardized by the National Retail Jewelers Association in 1912. (Enough history for you? Yep, us too.)
Ultimately, no matter how these monthly assignations came to be, our collective belief in birthstones has not wavered throughout centuries of social change — the idea that there’s a gemstone out there assigned to your special celestial you-ness is still a celebrated one. And when you’re trying to communicate to a loved one just how special they are, there’s nothing like the gift of a mythologically meaningful mineral. So if you’re looking to fill your cart with some personal gems this season, look no further. We’ve rounded up the best birthstone jewelry we could find, from delicate stud earrings to eye-popping antique cocktail rings, for that unique someone.
Opener: Polly Wales Celeste Ruby Ring, $3,190, available at Catbird.
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