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Legend has it that Noah, builder of the Ark, used a garnet lantern to navigate through the dark rain of his 40 days and nights odyssey. Known in ancient and Biblical texts as the carbuncle, garnet was considered a sacred gem used to designate religious initiates. King Solomon wore garnets into battle as a talisman.
Few gemstones are as immediately associated with royalty, majesty and the right to rule as is the amethyst. Since purple was the color most difficult and costly to produce anciently, it came to designate sovereignty and station in almost all civilizations. The royal scepter used by English regents is topped by an amethyst globe.
Surely Neptune, god of the sea, created this blue gem symbolizing seafaring journeys of old. So visually evocative of water, the name aquamarine translates to "sea-water" as derived from the Latin aqua for water and mare for sea.
Ancient Hindus believed that diamonds resulted when thunderbolts hit the earth. Whether colorless, bright canary, warmest mocha, exotic black, or the rarest pink, blue, red and green, diamonds have a similarly powerful effect.
From Colombia to Zambia, from pyramids to mines of Solmondoco, the greenest gem has captivated kings, conquerors and collectors. Since the human eye is more sensitive to green than any other color, the emerald has been an ageless symbol of man's desire for youth, vitality and rebirth. The name origin is the ancient Greek smaragdus for green.
In whites as crystalline as bridal satin, pinks as rosé as an honest blush, ivories as mellow as antique lace mantillas and mysterious black-greys with aubergine and green overtones, there are pearls suitable for every woman. Whether the Audrey Hepburn-ish multiple strand chokers or the single strand necessity, pearls are quintessential elegance.
"The perpetually glowing fire that never is extinguished," say the ancient texts. "As red as pigeon's blood" describes gems from the Mogok mines of old Burma which are older than history. Through the ages, "ruby red" has noted the pinnacle of the color, from its Latin origin ruber or rubrum.
How ironic that a gem as lively a green as budding mimosas or new grass is mined on a small desolate island where nothing grows, there is no fresh water and the temperature is scorching for the majority of the year. Since antiquity, this island in the Red Sea named Zabargad in Arabic has been mined for peridot. Some of its geologic fissures are lined with gem crystals, and tiny peridot crystals give some of its beaches a greenish hue. Peridot is rooted in the Greek word peridona meaning plentiful.
The blue gem of the ages, sapphire has roots in the Greek sappheiros for Sappherine, the island where ancient Greek records say sapphires were discovered. The early Arabic safir and the Latin sapphirus also meant blue. In ancient Persian lore, the earth rested on a large sapphire whose reflection colored the skies, and in Hebrew tradition the Ten Commandments were written on sapphire tablets.
Pink tourmaline is thought to balance the feminine and masculine aspects within a woman, empowering her to reach her full potential. Its name is derived from the Sinhalese word "turmali" meaning mixed. The gemstone comes in a variety of shades, but the pink and red varieties are the most valuable, increasing in value the darker and richer the color.
Citrine is known as the "healing quartz". This golden gemstone is believed to support vitality and health while encouraging hope, energy and warmth. Citrine varies in shade from pastel yellows to dark brownish oranges.
Blue topaz is derived from the Sanskrit word "tapas", meaning fire. Contrary to what it may suggest the gemstone was considered by ancient civilizations to have cooling properties and was used to cool boiling water and calm hot tempers. Other believed healing powers include: insanity, asthma, weak vision and insomnia.
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