From the earliest times in
the history of man gems and precious stones have been held in great
esteem. They have been found in the monuments of prehistoric peoples
—the Pharaohs, the Incas and the Montezumas put into these brilliant
things from Nature's jewel casket a significance beyond mere
suggestion of their intrinsic properties.
people of East India called the rock-crystal an unripe diamond, and
the real jewel a ripe diamond. Their notion evidently was that it was a
vegetable. In parts of Europe, during the Middle Ages, it was classed
as an animal.
sages were firm believers in the immunizing influence of gems; they
thought that the evil in the world could be kept from contaminating a
child if he were properly protected by wearing the appropriate gems.
Indeed, folklorists are wont to wonder whether the custom of wearing
gems in jewelry did not originate in the talismanic idea instead of in
the idea of mere additional adornment.