Information about Birthstone Gems and Birth Stones by Month
George Frederick Kunz was a highly revered mineralogist, historian, anthropologist, writer, and traveller extraordinaire who even lent his name to a gemstone discovery: Kunzite. In fact, having been employed as chief mineralogist for most of the latter part of 19th century, Kunz is partly responsible for Tiffany & Co, New York being what it is today. So, if there is anyone who has come close to revealing the truth behind the origins of birthstones it is Kunz.
The origin of the twelve birthstones lies obscured by thousands of years of history. There is so much conjecture on this subject that it’s actually more of a case of ‘His story’ than ‘History.’ Who is right, nobody will ever know, but perhaps someone whom can cast some light on the matter, is one of the greatest modern authorities on the subject of birthstones: GF Kunz.
Origins of Birthstones
The word according to Kunz, has the origins of the birthstone gems being firmly planted in a Biblical story of epic proportions which starts in the middle of the second millennium before the birth of Jesus Christ. The year was approximately 1444 before the birth of Christ, and the historical event was the beginning of the great Israelite Exodus out of Egypt, reigned over by Pharaoh Amun Ho-Thep II.
The exodus was believed to be led by Moses and the high priests. One of the priests was called Aaron, and he had been selected by God to make a breastplate and mount it with 12 coloured gems. According to chapter 28 of the book of Exodus, these are the twelve gems in the Aramaic language of the time and in sequential order: 1).Odem 2).Pitdah 3).Bareketh 4).Nophak 5).Sappir 6).Yahalom 7).Leshem 8).Shebo 9).Ahlamah 10).Tarshish 11).Shoham 12).Yashpheh.
Each of the twelve gems to be mounted in the priest’s breastplate corresponded to one of the twelve tribes of Israelites being led out of Egypt. Each of the twelve gems was to be inscribed with one of the twelve tribe’s names: Judah, Issachar, Zebulun, Reuben, Simeon, Gad, Ephriam, Manaseeh, Benjamin, Dan, Naphtali, Asher.
However, what is not known is which of the twelve stones was carved with which of the twelve names, what order of sequence did the gems appear on the breastplate and perhaps most importantly the true identity of the gems. The reason for this is that the Exodus passage has passed through more than 3000 years of history and so many languages, translations and interpretations to make it impossible to answer any of these questions with absolute certainty.
GF Kunz however, does make an educated guess as to the original identity of the twelve gems in the breastplate: 1).Odem = Red Japer 2).Pitdah = Yellow/Green Serpentine 3).Bareketh = Green Feldspar 4).Nophak = Almandine Garnet 5).Sappir = Lapis Lazuli 6).Yahalom = Onyx 7).Leshem = Brown Agate 8).Shebo = Banded Agate 9).Ahlamah = Amethyst 10).Tarshish = Topaz (Peridot) 11).Shoham = Beryl 12).Yashpheh = Green Jasper (Jade) .
The reason Kunz put forward these gem types was that were known to the Egyptians and therefore available to the Israelite slaves in Egypt. This runs contrary to later translations which have the gems as diamonds, sapphires, rubies etc. The reason being these rare gems were neither known at that time, nor available to Israelite slaves who had no money to buy them anyway.
Info About Birthstones