birthstone

/berrth"stohn'/, n.
a precious or semiprecious stone traditionally associated with a particular month or sign of the zodiac and believed to attract good fortune.
[1905-10; BIRTH + STONE]

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Gemstone associated with the month of one's birth.

Wearing one was popularly supposed to bring good luck or health. The ancient belief that supernatural powers could be attributed to gemstones is still held by some people today. The list of genuine stones (e.g., diamond, emerald, sapphire, ruby) was supplemented in the 20th century by a series of synthetic stones for use as less costly substitutes.

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  gemstone associated with the date of one's birth, the wearing of which is commonly thought to bring good luck or health. Supernatural powers have long been attributed by astrologers to certain gemstones.

       BirthstonesThe stones now associated with each month, as listed in the table (Birthstones), have only slight relationship to the ancient beliefs, for the list is tempered by availability and cost. Before mineralogy had progressed to the point of chemical analysis, colour was of greater importance than some of the other physical characteristics, and little distinction was made between emerald and chrysoprase, for example, or between ruby and garnet, or between citrine and topaz. When it came to the ability to heal or bring good luck, the actual stone and the look-alikes were regarded as equally effective. Even the names used in ancient times do not necessarily refer to the stones that go by those names in the 21st century; the sapphire of the Bible is much more likely to have been lapis lazuli than what is now known as sapphire, and adamas (diamond) was probably white sapphire or white topaz.

      Originally, the stones were considered to be those of the breastplate (ḥoshen) of the Jewish high priest. In the 20th century the list was supplemented with a series of synthetic stones that were recommended as alternatives for some of the rarer, less-attractive, or less-durable natural stones. The natural-stone list was also expanded to make it more acceptable to both sexes.

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Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • birthstone — 1874, from BIRTH (Cf. birth) (n.) + STONE (Cf. stone) (n.) …   Etymology dictionary

  • birthstone — [bʉrth′stōn΄] n. a precious or semiprecious gem symbolizing the month of a person s birth: the usual list (with modern variants), beginning with that of January, is as follows: garnet, amethyst, bloodstone (aquamarine), diamond, emerald, pearl… …   English World dictionary

  • birthstone — noun Date: 1907 a gemstone associated symbolically with the month of one s birth …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • birthstone — noun a) Any of twelve gemstones traditionally associated with the month of ones birth b) Any of a similar list of less costly substitutes …   Wiktionary

  • birthstone — n. gemstone which is associated with a particular month of the year …   English contemporary dictionary

  • birthstone — noun a gemstone popularly associated with the month or astrological sign of a person s birth …   English new terms dictionary

  • birthstone — birth•stone [[t]ˈbɜrθˌstoʊn[/t]] n. jew a precious or semiprecious stone traditionally associated with the month of one s birth • Etymology: 1905–10 …   From formal English to slang

  • birthstone — /ˈbɜθstoʊn / (say berthstohn) noun a precious stone associated with a person s month of birth and worn as a lucky charm …   Australian English dictionary

  • birthstone — n. a gemstone popularly associated with the month of one s birth …   Useful english dictionary

  • Mr. Hood — Studio album by KMD Released May 7, 1991 …   Wikipedia

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