A HANDBOOK OF PRECIOUS STONES
PRECIOUS stones have been known from ancient times. Early man appreciated the beautiful in nature, such as coloured berries, attractive shells, brightly coloured pebbles, etc., and used them for personal adornment. Countries in the eastern hemisphere were the first to use precious stones or gems, dating back to 100000-75000 B.C. There are many circumstances that point to India as their birthplace. Mention is made of gems and jewels in the earliest Hindu writings. The Vedas have references to places illuminated by rubies and diamonds. Precious stones play a very prominent part in Hindu mythology, in Hindu traditions, poems and legends. In their two great epics, the Ramayana and Mahabharata, kings and people are said to have decorated themselves with stones and pearls. The Phoenicians brought precious stones and jewels to Egypt and Greece from the East.
India and Burma formed the home of many gem-stones and there existed a trade between India and Europe on gem-stones. The emerald is said to be known from 2000-1800 B.C., sapphires and ruby from 600-500 B.C. and diamond from 480 B.C.
Gem mining is probably the oldest form of mining. Primitive man is said to have known 18 gems and decorative stones before he knew of any metals. At first the gems were sought in stream gravels and residual deposits, but by 3400 B.C. the turquois mines of the Sinai Peninsula were operated. This was probably the first human