Birthstones, 1913 and 2013

18-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

Friday, June 6, 1913:  Nothing doing, therefore not worth writing about.


Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

Since Grandma again didn’t write much, I’m going to pick up where I left off yesterday. Yesterday I wrote about how an advice columnist named “Aunt Harriet”  told young men in the April, 1913 issue of Farm Journal about what they should expect to pay for a wedding and engagement ring.

Aunt Harriet bemoaned the high cost of diamond engagement rings and wrote that:

Of late years it has become quite customary to use the birthstone of the young lady for the engagement ring, and these can be had in a variety of settings and at various prices.

She continued:

The stones for the twelve months are as follows: January, garnet; February, amethyst; March, bloodstone; April, diamond; May, emerald; June moonstone; July, ruby; August, sardonyx; September, sapphire; October, opal; November, topaz; December, turquoise.

I had a vague memory that modern lists of birthstones include zircon for one of the months, so checked the American Gem Society website and found that the stones have changed for a few of the months since 1913.

cameo.ringThe 1913 August birthstone was sardonyx. It’s a banded mineral that was often carved into cameos.

21 Responses

  1. I am glad that mine has stayed the same. I love the green color of mine :-).

  2. Grandma must have been really busy – there’ve been several days here in a row that she wrote the same thing in her diary!

  3. Oh I am pleased to learn that my birthstone was once bloodstone. I much prefer that to aquamarine. I will have to search for one.

  4. Do you remember if your grandma wore an engagement ring or a simple wedding band? Neither my mother or my maternal grandmother (my paternal grandmother passed away when I was a baby) had engagement rings. My mother married in the 1951 and my grandmother in the 1932.

    • I have a vague recollection that she had both a wedding and an engagement ring. My memory is that she typically wore just the wedding ring, but that on special occasions she might have worn both.

  5. Mine stayed the same and I see it everywhere, sometimes in large rocks even! Know what it is?

  6. That’s interesting. I didn’t know that they changed over time.

    • I suppose that styles change–and that some gems increase or decrease in popularity. I wonder if they also changed some of the birthstones because they because more (or less) rare over the last hundred years.

  7. I’m August, and not a big peridot fan, but sardonyx has potential. I’ll need to look for it in antique stores.

  8. Bleh, bloodstone? Sounds creepy. I’m very happy with aquamarine, thank you. My favoritest color is blue.
    It’s odd, I always think December’s stone is pearl, but I really don’t know why.

    • I like bloodstone in spite of it’s name. I have no idea why it’s not on the modern list, but I’m thinking that its name might be part of the reason. :)

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