Gemstones have a delightful and fascinating history. Let’s take a look at some of the most famous ones below:
The ruby has been called the “lord of gems.” It was (and is) a highly prized and important gemstone. Legend says that the ruby was placed on the neck of Aaron, the High Priest of the Jews, by God’s strict command. There are numerous references to rubies in the Bible. For instance, in Proverbs, it was written “Who can find a virtuous woman? For her price is far above rubies.” Throughout history, the ruby has won a place in the hierarchy of gemstones. Rubies were worn on the crest of heads of state from the Black Prince of England to Richard II, and most of the later Kings of England. Legend records that when Richard III fell in battle, the ruby was rescued and used to crown Henry VII on the battlefield.Emerald beads have been discovered in Egyptian tombs. Emeralds were frequently used for the eyes in early images. Aztecs used emeralds for particular forms of fish and flowers. The Incas treasured emeralds as much as gold. In Babylon, emeralds were valued highly both in the past as well as today. Cleopatra wore emeralds that came from her own mines in Upper Egypt. Many other ancient cultures, such as the Peruvians, valued the emerald. Legend claims that the King of Babylon sent the Egyptian Pharoah an emerald that was 72 inches long and 54 inches thick.
“Diamonds are a girl’s best friend,” Anita Loos sang in her 1925 Broadway show tune. In fact, the diamond has a reputation for softening anger, strengthening love and promoting a long-lasting union. History records that the first diamond engagement ring was presented to Mary of Burgundy in 1477 by Archduke Maximilian of Austria. And, as they say, the rest is history…
An early Bronze Age lake dweller was discovered by archaeologists with garnets spread around him. The stones had been pierced in preparation for putting on what was believed to be an amulet. Both the ancient Greeks and the Romans used garnets in their jewelry. Frequently garnets were set in gold and used for helmets, buckles, rings, necklaces and brooches. During the reign of Queen Victoria, garnets became the fashionable gemstone of the time, both because of their beauty and inexpensive price. Garnets were set in jewelry of that period which included bracelets, combs, necklaces, earrings and a less-well known type called “stomachers.” The latter was actually a jeweled garment that might reach the entire length from a woman’s neckline to her thighs.
What are your own favorite gemstones?
(Next: More History of Gemstones!)