The History and Meaning of April’s Birthstone

Birthstones are steeped in many traditions, customs and belief systems. We explore more about the origins of birthstones as well as delve into the history and meaning behind April’s stunning birthstone: the diamond.

Origins of birthstones

Different colour gemstones

The origin of birthstones is believed to date back to the breastplate of Aaron, which contained 12 gemstones representing the twelve tribes of Israel. In the ancient Roman times, birthstones were believed to possess spiritual and magical energies that could be used as protection. The Hebrew temple priests would wear a breastplate with 12 gems on it, with each stone a different colour.

In 1912, each gemstone was officially associated with a particular month of the year when the American National Association of Jewelers created an official birthstone list.

Today, birthstones are given as gifts in the form of birthstone jewellery such as necklaces, earrings and rings. In general, birthstones represent good luck and happiness to those who wear them.

April’s birthstone: the diamond

The word diamond is taken from the Greek word “adamas”

According to the Modern and Traditional Birthstone Lists, April is honoured with the diamond as its one and only birthstone, which is also recognised as the King of all Birthstones.

Taken from the Greek word ‘adamas’, which means unconquerable, the diamond is a prized gemstone that has captured the hearts of many for centuries.

Diamonds are associated with mental clarity, balance and prosperity 

Wearing a diamond is said to make those born in April much happier in their relationships, more successful in life and give them strength from within. Diamonds are also associated with other benefits such as mental clarity, balance, and prosperity.

History of diamonds

Diamonds were brought to medieval markets in Venice by caravan

Natural diamonds were formed under high pressure and at high temperature deep within the Earth, over 3 billion years ago. They were brought to the surface after a violent volcanic eruption, which took place a very long time ago.

Diamonds have always been the most desired gemstone in the world and have been revered for centuries. Sanskrit texts dating back to 400 B.C. talk about the extraordinary value and significance of diamonds. Some historians estimate that they have been in trade since 4 BC and were coveted by royalty and the wealthy.

Indian diamonds were brought to medieval markets in Venice by caravans and by the 1400s, diamonds were becoming fashionable accessories for Europe’s wealthy and elite.

In the early 1700s, India’s diamond supplies began to decline and Brazil emerged as an important source. Brazil dominated the diamond market for more than 150 years.

Diamonds were discovered near Kimberley, South Africa, in the 1860s and this marked the beginning of the modern diamond market.

Diamond legends and beliefs

Some believe diamonds to be tears of the gods

Beyond their stunning aesthetic and glamorous appeal, diamonds hold a lot of spiritual, mythological and etymological history that adds romantic and sentimental value.

Some historical texts say that these precious jewels were created by lightening bolts, while others say diamonds were the tears of the gods. The Ancient Romans believed Cupid’s arrows were tipped with diamonds.

It was believed that cupids arrow was tipped with diamonds

The Hindu tradition links diamonds to Venus while other ancient beliefs associated diamonds with the planet Mars. This stems from the tradition of warriors wearing diamonds to give them strength, courage and “invincible” protection, before engaging in battle.

Diamonds were also believed to have magical healing powers and could cure illnesses related to the brain and the pituitary gland. It was thought that diamonds held a certain purity, which enabled them to draw out poisonous toxins from the body.

Today, diamonds symbolise everlasting love and commitment. They make for a wonderful birthday gift – in the form of birthstone jewellery – for someone you love, especially if their special day falls in the month of April. Learn more about this fascinating gemstone when you visit the Cape Town Diamond Museum at the V&A Waterfront.