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Breastplate of Aaron: Gemstone Jewelry History Breastplate of Aaron: Gemstone Jewelry History

Gemstone Birthstone Rings The Breastplate of Aaron

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"And thou shall make a breastplate of judgment with cunning work…And thou shalt set it in settings of stones, even four rows of stones: and the first row shall be a sardius, a topaz, and a carbuncle…And the second row shall be an emerald, a sapphire, and a diamond. And the third row a ligure, an agate, and an amethyst. And the fourth row a beryl, and an onyx and a jasper; they shall be set in gold in their enclosings. And the stones shall be with the names of the children of Israel, twelve, according to their names…everyone with his name shall be according to the twelve tribes…And Aaron shall bear the names of the children in the breastplate of judgment upon his heart when he goeth in unto the holy place, for a memorial before the Lord continually." - Exodus 28, 15-30

Emerald and Diamond RingsMost Gemstone scholars agree. The stories and "myths" behind gemstone jewelry arose from the Biblical "Breastplate of Aaron"a ceremonial spiritual garment that was inlaid with twelve natural gemstones. Each gemstone represented the twelve tribes of Israel from the Old Testament or Torah. The twelve gemstones also came to represented the twelve months of the year.

Sapphire RingsThe practice of carving gemstones dates from the 7th millennium BC from the story of Aaron (c. 1300 BC). That is the antecedent of our understanding of gemstones today. Almost a thousand years later, a student of Aristotle, named Throphrastus (372-287 BC), authored "Peri Lithon" – which translates, "On Stones". This work served as the sourcebook on gemstones for many years

Diamond RingsBack to the Old Testament. Moses is said to have received the divine instruction for the construction of the gemstone adornment during his forty days in the wilderness. Aaron, Moses' older brother and himself a priest of Israel, served dutifully as Moses' 'nabi' or spokesman to his people, to Pharaoh, and during ceremonies.

Amethyst RingInitially representative of the Twelve Tribes of Israel, through time the gemstones also became associated with the Twelve Apostles. A natural progression led to an individual gemstone standing for each month of the year. As far as we know, the custom of wearing gemstones as birthstones started in 15th century Poland.

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It was not until a 1912 meeting of the National Association of Jewelers in Kansas City, Missouri that the assignment of specific gemstones to specific months was standardized. Purists, of course, complained that this was done for purely commercial reasons. Be that as it may, it sure simplified things. Even today, in certain quarters, alternate gemstone selections are commonplace.

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