We share with our earliest ancestors a desire for jewelry and beautiful objects. Gems, Jewelry and Charms & much royal regalia reveal a tradition of self adornment in the application of magic and rituals which have been around for thousands of years. Some of our oldest jewelry has been found in graves 20,000 years old. Much of this consists of shell, bone and ivory necklaces, along with polished stones. We have no idea the significance these objects held for their owners, but in later times gemstones were used as symbols of divine and earthly power, displaying wealth & status. They were believed to protect the wearer. The materials most widely used by the ancients in their jewelry were stones, polished to a high luster. As time wore on, became precious gems and semi-precious stones.
Mankind has long been attracted to gemstones since ancient times, and archaeologists have found many gemstones that had been formed into jewelry. The prime requisite for a gem was that it must be beautiful in the eyes of the beholder. The beauty could be found in many forms, the various colors, even the lack of color, the brilliance and sparkle and the fire that came from deep within the gem.
Many civilizations regarded gems as miraculous and endowed with powerful mysterious effects. Different stones were endowed with sometimes overlapping & very different attributes. The Diamond, for instance, was thought to give it’s wearer strength in battle and protect against ghosts and magic. Such beliefs persist in modern times. This can be seen in the practice of wearing a birthstone. In today’s times ingenious marketing has installed in people a great pride in the possession of a rare and beautiful gemstone.
Throughout the ages many stones became known as semi-precious, which generally means any gemstone other than sapphire, emerald, ruby or diamonds. The main difference was established that a precious gemstone was considered such for it’s brilliance, beauty, durability and rarity. Where in general a semi-previous gemstone possessed only 1 or 2 of these qualities.
Even in the earliest use of gemstones the value was established by great beauty or perfection. The brilliance, luster, fire and color all determined the value & desirability of a gemstone. It was only in more modern times that the hardness of a gemstone became a determining factor in it’s value. It was measured by a device known as the “Mohs Scale”. In addition to the hardness of a gemstone, the clarity became of great issue. Eventually stones were graded on the clarity and whether the stone had any inclusions and also the size of the inclusions.
It wasn’t until more modern times that the study & science of gems, known as “Gemology”, was established. The grading and value of a gemstone became much of an anthropological study, as it is a mineralogical one.
Gemstones because of their remarkable beauty and rarity are significant in helping us understand the history of mankind. The human race has sought to protect itself behind walls of mysticism and superstition reinforced by the spiritual leaders with gems used as talismans that were used in mysterious ceremonies and could be easily hidden.
In modern description of “Gemology”, is the scientific study of gemstones involving the study of mineralogical fundamentals involving formations, genesis, physical properties, all used in the identification of gemstones, including a basic knowledge of structural, crystallographic, chemical and physical characteristics and properties of gems. This combined with the way gemstones are fashioned considering the many different cuts, brilliance, fire, etc. comprise the area of gemology.