Ancient warriors believed that garnets brought victory. The Crusaders used them as protection against wounds and accidents during their journeys. In contrast, Asiatic warriors believed that glowing garnets, used as bullets, inflicted more severe wounds. In 1892, during hostilities on the Kashmir frontier, the Hanza tribesmen fired on British soldiers with garnet bullets, believing them to be more effective than lead bullets.
It's said that the signet ring worn by Cleopatra was an amethyst, engraved with the figure of Mithras, a Persian diety symbolizing the Divine Idea, Source of Light and Life. It is also said to be the stone of Saint Valentine, who wore an amethyst engraved with the figure of his assistant, Cupid. Saint Valentine's Day is still observed in February.
The name aquamarine was derived by the Romans, "aqua" meaning water and "mare" meaning sea, because it looked like sea water. Aquamarines were believed to have originated from the jewel caskets of sirens, washed ashore from the depths of the sea. They were considered sacred to Neptune, god of the sea. This association with the sea made it the sailors' gem, promising prosperous and safe voyages as well as protection against perils and monsters of the sea. Its first documented use was by the Greeks between 480-300 BC. They wore aquamarine amulets engraved with the god Poseidon on a chariot.
Diamonds are a wonder of nature. Their cold sparkling fire has held us spell-bound for centuries, inspiring rich passionate myths of romance, intrigue, power, greed, and magic. Ancient Hindus, finding diamonds washed out of the ground after thunderstorms, believed they were created by bolts of lightning. In our place and time, the diamond is a symbol of enduring love, and often grace engagement rings.
Several famous historical artifacts were made of emeralds. Among them was the Crown of Andes, said to be worn by the last Inca king of Peru who was taken prisoner by Conquistador Pizzaro in 1532. The crown was said to be set with 453 emeralds, collectively weighing 10 ounces (1523 carats). In the 1940s, the crown was sold to, then broken up by, an American syndicate. Many of its stones are probably in the jewelry collections of wealthy Americans today.
Pearls, according to Indian mythology, were dewdrops from heaven that fell into the sea. They were caught by shellfish under the first rays of the rising sun, during a period of full moon. In India, warriors encrusted their swords with pearls to symbolize the tears and sorrow that a sword brings.
The ruby is among the most highly prized of gemstones. Large rubies are harder to find than large diamonds, emeralds and sapphires. As a result, rubies' value increases with size more than any other gemstone.
The peridot was regarded since ancient times as the symbol of the sun. The Greeks believed that it brought royal dignity upon its wearer. During the Middle Ages, peridot was pierced, then strung on the hair of an ass and attached to the left arm to ward off evil spirits. The Crusaders thought that peridots were emeralds, and brought them back to Europe where they were featured as ornaments in churches.
The sapphire is a relative of July's birthstone, ruby. Like ruby, it is a form of the mineral corundum, a normally drab grey mineral. Red corundum is called the ruby, while all other gem-quality forms of corundum are called sapphires.
The name opal is derived from the Sanskrit word "upala," as well as the Latin "opalus," meaning "precious stone." Opal is a gemstone of much variety; the ancient Roman natural historian Pliny once described it in the following way: "... it is made up of the glories of the most precious stones. To describe it is a matter of inexpressive difficulty: There is in it the gentler fire of the ruby, the brilliant purple of the amethyst, the sea-green of the emerald, all shining together in an incredible union."
Birthstone for the month of November, comes from a Sanskrit word meaning "fire." And in ancient lore, it could be used to control heat. It was said to have the power to cool boiling water, as well as excessive anger. As a medication, topaz was used to cure fever.
Turquoise is considered by some to be a symbol of good fortune and success, believed to bring prosperity to its wearer. Its name is believed to originate from the French phrase " pierre turquoise" meaning "Turkish stone" because turquoise was brought to Europe by Venetian merchants who first acquired it in Turkish bazaars. It is also considered by some as a love charm. When received as a gift, the turquoise symbolizes a pledge of affection.