Jewels of the Marketing World: How Birthstones Became a Brand

May 1, 2014

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Jewels of the Marketing World: How Birthstones Became a Brand


As summer approaches, the world outside is getting greener—and so are the world’s precious gems. This month’s birthstone, the vibrantly-green emerald, may (pun intended) simply seem beautiful to look at, but this sparkler is part of a larger, vaster industry—one that understands our innate desire to connect with the world around us.

Where did birthstones come from?

Although the exact origin of birthstones is still debated, a general consensus exists. According to, the concept of birthstones began with the Breastplate of Aaron, described in the Book of Exodus in the Bible. This breastplate contained twelve different gemstones, each meant to represent a different tribe of Israel.

Over time, writers and scholars linked each individual gemstone to a zodiac sign. Each gem was said to have powers that corresponded to the sign, and people were meant to own a set of all twelve gemstones and wear each one at the appropriate time of year. Doing so was believed to bring good health and good luck to the wearer. Historians believe that when jewel traders arrived in Poland in the 18th century, people began wearing the gemstone that corresponded to their birth month. This was not only easier and more affordable than owning twelve separate stones, but also allowed people to express themselves and their unique birthdays.

So what do birthstones have to do with marketing, anyway?

The answer, surprisingly, is “quite a bit.”

Without marketing, birthstones would just be a bunch of sparkly, colorful rocks. The modern list of birthstones by month was established in 1912, and was altered only once to add tanzanite to the month of December (additional lists with multiple stones for each birth month have since been created). Because of this list, just over a century ago, these sparkly rocks became icons for the world to see.

The genius of birthstone marketing was to take a pile of pretty gemstones and create a global concept that highlighted individuality, yet also connectivity and unity. Each person can now express something about themselves while connecting to others who share their birthday month—and while connecting to the world that recognizes the significance of each colored stone. Without marketing and the portrayal of a deeper meaning behind emeralds, we probably wouldn’t see very many people with May birthdays wearing green jewelry. The techniques of many, many marketing efforts over the years have led to our present-day perception of these precious gems.

How can birthstones help a business?

While it may not be very practical to display birthstones around the office or to color-coordinate the paper your copies are printed on each month, the lessons birthstones teach us about marketing are simple and powerful: People crave connections, and connections can be found almost anywhere. All it takes is an idea and the ability of that idea to spread—and here at Innovation Simple, we know the power an idea can have. We work hard to communicate with clients so they can better communicate their ideas with the world. By pursuing ideas that are centered around human connection and societal acceptance, marketing companies will better relate to their clients and better express ideas. And, who knows? Maybe wearing your birthstone will bring a little added luck.

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