Like flowers, specific stones used for jewelry can have very particular meanings. Others are steeped in history, depending on who found them valuable in the past and which notable people wore them. While each stone is unique and beautiful on its own, sometimes the interesting meaning can give even more significance to a lovely piece of jewelry.
If you’re hoping to choose a gemstone for your significant other, family member, friend or parent, you should learn some of the amazing meanings and stories behind these popular stones.
This beautiful, purple-hued gemstone is the birthstone associated with February. Amethyst is a rare strain of quartz, and it is colored by a combination of elements, usually iron and manganese. The intensity of the purple hue can vary based on where the gem is from and how it is treated. But the lore and history surrounding the gem are of particular note.
In ancient times, amethyst jewelry was associated with the Greek god of wine because of its wine-like color. The people of the time believed that wearing amethyst helped to prevent against drunkenness.
But the jewel was more than just a “cure” for a hangover. Amethysts were reflective of royalty, and were one of the most prized gems of the church and of European royalty.
Before extensive colonization in gem-rich Africa, amethysts were quite rare and revered as symbols of Jesus Christ, because of the purple robe given him at the time of his death. They also symbolized the priesthood of Aaron, since they are one of the stones set into the breastplate of the high priest.
As the world progressed toward the Renaissance, the stone gained a reputation for reflecting the highest ideals of mankind: intelligence and beauty. Leonardo da Vinci believed that amethysts could protect a person against evil influences and quicken the mind.
A more feminine but no less royal gem, the emerald was revered anciently as a symbol of fertility, growth, life and even immortality. The green color reflected the circle of life found in nature, a quiet but everlasting power.
Many ancient cultures, including ancient India and the Incas, believed the gemstone to have extraordinary power; some cultures even worshipped the stone as a goddess, and would bring smaller stones to the temple as an offering. Healers would use emeralds as talismans to help ward off diseases.
Some religious cultures even believed the emerald was powerful enough to keep evil spirits away. Aristotle believed that emeralds could prevent or cure epilepsy, and recommended that noble children wear emeralds to prevent the onset of the disease.
The green color was easier on the eyes than other gems, so it was commonly assumed that looking at an emerald would be a cure for tired or poor eyesight. Some early Catholic bishops associated the emerald with endurance and faith in Christ, connecting the emerald stone to the example of the Apostle John the Beloved.
In contrast to the feminine power of the emerald, the ruby is the “stone of kings.” The ruby was prized beyond all other gems, even more than diamonds. Its rich red coloring and its rarity made rubies one of the most precious stones for monarchies across the globe.
Nobles and kings believed that the ruby was a talisman of prosperity. Simply possessing a ruby would help your wealth to grow. Soon, the ruby did not just represent wealth and prosperity, but it also symbolized protection and preservation. It was believed that a ruby would keep your property safe from harm, even from natural disasters and illness. Some conquerors would wear rubies as a means of convincing the enemy of their advantage, and people would fear a king who had many rubies in his crown.
Some rubies have such a noticeable luster that they appear to shine from within. This “fire” allowed for superstitions about the ruby to arise. Some people believed that a ruby could never be hidden beneath clothing, because it would shine out from behind the cloth.
The sapphire is typically thought of as being blue in color, but it can actually appear in many colors, including pink, purple, and green. Blue, however, is the most popular color, and blue is the color that gives the sapphire a lot of its history and meaning.
For example, the Greeks connected sapphires with Apollo, the sun god, because of the color of the sky. Romans associated the stone with Venus, beginning the romantic connection to sapphires that still endures to this day. Diana, Princess of Wales, wore a sapphire engagement ring.
Egyptians used sapphires as a means of healing the eyes. This traditional continued for centuries—sapphires were thought to help with eye ailments. Sapphires were also commonly used as an antidote to poison.
Star sapphires were even more prized, especially by early Christians. Star sapphires came to represent destiny, faith, hope and charity, most likely because of the connection to the star that led the wise men to the Christ child.
In general, sapphires are a stone of honesty, integrity and peace. If your loved one is someone who prizes peacemaking and honesty, the sapphire is the perfect choice.
For more information on gem stones, contact us at Sol’s Jewelry & Loan.