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Old And Sold Antiques Digest Article

Color In Gems

By H.L. Thomson

[Legends Of Gems]  [Diamonds And Zirconia]  [Color In Gems]  [Birthstones] 
[Aquarius Gems]  [Pisces Gems]  [Aries Gems]  [Taurus Gems]  [Gemini Gems]  [Cancer Gems]  [Leo Gems]  [Virgo Gems]  [Libra Gems]  [Scorpio Gems]  [Saggitarius Gems]  [Capricorn Gems] 

( Orginally published November 1937 )

Undoubtedly color has always played a large part in the growth of legends about precious stones. The sun, which transmitted light and heat and stored up power, was believed also to produce color in gems. As long as they remained hidden in the ground, gems were supposed to be colorless, but as soon as they were exposed to the light of the sun, they assumed various shades. It was held that warm countries produced the finest stones, and since more gems were found in the Eastern lands, the term Orient was used to describe a superior quality, as Oriental topaz, Oriental emerald. It is interesting to speculate what legends might have grown up if the alexandrite, discovered in 1831, had been known to the ancients. In the light of day this stone which is next to the diamond in hardness shows a clear beautiful bottle-green tone, but in artificial light it becomes a columbine red. Since the gem was f ound in the Ural Mountains and revealed the national colors of Russia, it was named for the heir apparent who reached his majority the day it was discovered.

Color ranked high among the qualities which the ancients valued in gems. They placed rubies, sapphires, amethysts, and emeralds far above the white or colorless stones. It must not be forgotten, however, in reading of the stones of antiquity that the mineral content was practically unknown. A blue stone might be called either sapphire or lapis lazuli; a green stone might be jasper or jade, malachite or chrysoprase. Agate and onyx were different names for the banded stone which in the reddish-brown shades was known as the carnelian.

The student will note with interest the colorful gems chosen for the decorations of the breastplate of a high priest in the twentyeighth chapter of Exodus; also he will find in the Talmud and the Koran numerous references to colors of gems and their symbolical meanings. The Egyptian Book of the Dead has already been mentioned for its valuable records of gems.

The ancients believed that certain stones were "warm" and others "cold," and attached curious curative or magic powers to these properties. Probably because the red and yellow tones seemed to connote warmth of color, the gem stones in these shades were considered warm. Because of their magnetic powers, amber and tourmaline were held to have a warming and protecting power in the body. In certain parts of the world today, necklaces of amber are believed to keep the throat warm and free from ailments. The "cool" stones generally were those of a clear pale blue or green, and were supposed to be valuable in reducing fever and in allaying inflammation. A blue zircon or beryl was highly valued for this purpose.

The age now drawing to a close, astrologically speaking-and there is more to the science of stellar influence in human affairs than is generally recognized-is the age of Mercury, the age of the concrete mind, the age of the man who scorns intuition and sensitiveness as sheer imagination. Notwithstanding, before long, the vibrations of gems and their powers will be better understood.

In the new, or Aquarian, age that is approaching, people will no longer wear the wrong gems or choose their jewels ignorantly. At present even the informed tolerate loud clashing colors in their homes. We are speedily approaching the day when color will be audible like music, when musical tones vibrating in colors will become visible.

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