What are precious stones? How are they classified, and what is their connection with hidden messages, the seasons, and a tree?
Precious stones have been admired and desired since ancient times. Their beauty and scarcity, as well as the feelings they inspire, make them very valuable and labelled - precious. Below are some additional facts about why they are considered precious, and some unusual ways they have been used historically.
Classifying Precious Stones
The Mohs scale of mineral hardness is one method by which precious stones are classified. It was created in 1812 by the German geologist and mineralogist Friedrich Mohs. It is based on the ability of one mineral to scratch another; identifying and grading those minerals which are the hardest as being of more value. The Mohs scale of hardness is just one aspect of classifying gems. In ancient times it was the visual appeal and scarcity which ascertained a stones value, which still attributes in modern times also.
Precious Stones Ratings
Gems that are classified as precious are usually the hardest in texture. On the Mohs scale of hardness with 10 being the hardest, the precious stones rate as; diamond – 10, ruby – 9, sapphire – 9, and emerald – 8.
Traditional Precious Stones
In ancient times the diamond, ruby, sapphire, emerald, pearl, opal and amethyst were all considered precious stones. However, in modern times the list has been limited to the traditional diamond, emerald, ruby and sapphire; with pearl a relative newcomer. Although pearl is not strictly a gemstone, it has been included in the precious stones list entirely due to its beauty and desirability.
Acrostic Jewellery – Regard Ring
Acrostics, is a word which is used for spelling a message, using the first letter of a series of words. Acrostics were once commonly used in poems and letters to convey secret messages in Victorian times. Acrostic jewellery first appeared in 17th century England and France. Combinations of gems were set into rings, brooches and bracelets, so that when arranged, the first letters of the name of each gem spelled a message or sentiment. The most popular acrostic piece in Victorian times was the ‘Regard’ ring, created using the precious stones of; Ruby, Emerald, Garnet, Amethyst, Ruby and Diamond.
Precious Stones and the Seasons
Since ancient times, the traditional four precious stones have also been associated with the seasons. The cold ice beauty of a diamond represents winter, and the reason why it is sometimes called ‘ice’. The green of emerald represents spring, and it is often named after the French word ‘jardin’ meaning ‘garden’, symbolising the seeds of the earth. The ruby symbolises the heat of the summer Sun, and the blue of sapphire, symbolises the rains of autumn.
The Kalpa Tree
In Indian mythology, precious stones were used for meditation in the Kalpa Tree. The tree was made entirely of gems; the roots – sapphire, the bottom section of the trunk – diamond, the remainder of the trunk – topaz, the shoots – emerald, the young leaves – coral, the older foliage – green zircon, and the fruits – rubies.