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Old And Sold Antiques Digest Article

Taurus: Emerald And Carnelian

[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 )



The emerald is the stone of intelligent activity and action, of service for the benefit of humanity. As far back as legend can be traced, it has been highly prized for its beneficent powers. It was -one of the sacred stones of the Atlanteans. In Biblical times it was chosen as sacred to the tribe of Levi, a name which means attached or joined, as to an altar. The early Christians cherished the emerald as an emblem of the resurrection. In Egypt the emerald was held to have talismanic power to ward off all evil influences, and to this end was cut in many shapes.

Long after the emerald ceased to be used for its quasi-medical value, its power as an amulet was depended upon to prevent or cure childish ailments, to drive away fears and evil influences, and to assure the wearer of wealth. Some peoples believed it would cure heart trouble and melancholia, and act as an antidote against poison.

Perhaps the most widespread belief in the efficacy of the emerald is that if touched to the eyes, it would heal all eye ailments, even blindness. Eastern peoples believed it would overcome the transfixing power of a serpent's charm, even that it would blind the serpent. It was reported by many writers of the time that Nero had spectacles: made of emerald through which he watched the gladiatorial combats without harm from malign influences. Down to modern times has persisted the belief that green is the color which is most restful to the eyes, particularly the green of the emerald.

Pliny's comment, "If the sight hath been dimmed and wearied by intense poring upon anything, the beholding of this stone doth refresh and restore it again," is attested by workers in gem stones and by watchmakers and engravers today. They keep an emerald on the work bench and rest their eyes upon it to relieve the strain caused by intense application to exacting work.

In some countries it was once believed that women would benefit most by the occult power of the emerald if they postponed wearing this gem until after they were fifty years of age. No such limitation was imposed upon men.

In widely separated regions the belief persisted that demons protect emerald mines, a claim held by the Peruvians today as by the ancient Romans. When the Spanish first invaded Peru, they found innumerable emeralds of magnificent quality which had been offered to the gods in the temple. Many valuable gems were destroyed when the priests, in applying their mistaken idea. of a test for genuineness, ordered them struck with hammers to see if they could be crushed.

Emeralds were sacred to the Egyptians and the Etruscans, and are found in abundance in their tombs. The usual beliefs in the power of this gem were that it gave courage, strengthened faith, protected against plague and evil influences, preserved memory and eyesight, and disclosed treachery by turning pale. If a gem fell from its setting, the superstitious held it to be a last warning of impending disaster.

The wearing of many emeralds was urged upon those suspected of being possessed of a demon. A single gem worn on the index finger assured its owner of a marvelous memory and a quick wit. If worn about the neck, it cured fevers. If applied to various parts of the body in contact with the skin, the emerald would cure any ailment affecting that part. The light rays emitted by a brilliant stone, particularly a transparent green stone, were considered to be radiations ~of curative energy. A pale green emerald was held to endow the wearer with the ability to foretell the future; if he placed an emerald under his tongue, he could call up evil spirits and converse with impunity.

Because the emerald is held to promote constancy and domestic felicity, it is chosen as an engagement ring by those to whom the diamond's white fire is not so attractive as the intense green of the emerald. It is believed to be especially generous in its influences to those whose birthstone it is, as well as to those with the moon in good aspect.

Carnelian derives its name from the Latin word meaning flesh colored, though it varies in intensity of shade from a deep reddish-brown to a yellow or cream-colored translucent stone. From earliest times it was valued for seals and amulets because of the high polish which it would take. Egyptians favored the amberreddish tones of the carnelian for decorative effects because of the effective contrast with the turquoise and lapis lazuli which they usually combined with it in pectorals. They valued it because of their belief that it preserved dignity in argument and lent serenity to the wearer.

Among the Greeks, who had a different stone for each day of the week, the carnelian was chosen for the first day. Along with other ancient peoples, they believed that wearing a carnelian assured the granting of every wish. The Arabs, whose favorite stone it was, often engraved it with inscriptions to preserve them against envy, the most malign and destructive power possessed by the living.

The Mohammedans held that wearing a carnelian would bring peace and happiness to the owner. Their preference for this stone is attributed to the fact that Mohammed wore a little-finger ring set with a carnelian seal. The power of the stone was enhanced if it was engraved with sacred words. The children of Israel during their wanderings in the wilderness prized amulets of carnelian as emblems of patience and hope.

Useful ornaments were frequently made of carnelian, such as pins and combs to hold the hair in place, and clasps and buckles for garments. The clasp of Isis described in The Book of the Dead was carved from carnelian. This record also mentions that carnelian amulets were prized most highly if they were carved in the shape of a heart or a scarab, both emblems of immortal life. Napoleon jealously guarded a carnelian seal which he found in an Egyptian campaign and sometimes wore as a watch charm.

Eastern peoples believed that carnelian amulets protected them against witchcraft and sorcery, as well as the plague. The early Romans attributed to this stone the power to preserve them against disasters of nature, such as storms of wind and hail, lightning, flood, and earthquake. Australian bushmen value the carnelian as an emblem of good hunting. Strangely they have the same tabu concerning it as the New Zealanders and Chinese have about jade, that no woman may approach the spot where the stone is being carved.

The medicinal value of carnelian was supposed to lie in its power to stop hemorrhages and to reduce inflammation and congestion. Toothpicks of carnelian were prized for their prevention of the bleeding of gums.

Rather consistently the legends about the carnelian agree that its warm tones signify courage, a strong confidence in the speaking or singing voice, and a calming, effect on the angry, the discordant, and the envious. The stone is considered to add stimulation and animation to colorless personalities, to strengthen self-confidence, and to preserve the vocal gifts of speakers and singers. The salutary effects of the carnelian are intensified if it is the birthstone of the wearer.



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