SECULAR USES OF PRECIOUS STONES.
The love of personal adornment, as has been intimated, is
universal ; it is not limited to one period, nation, class, or sex,
but is shared by all, though it exists in different degrees, and is
manifested in different ways.
This innate passion for ornament seeks its gratification in
the acquisition of whatever is considered the most beautiful
and becoming for this object, according to the taste and cultivation of its possessor. The savage is contented to adorn his
person with beads and feathers ; while civilized man seeks the
most valuable and attractive things in nature to augment his
dignity and comeliness, therefore precious stones have been
used for this purpose by all who could possess them.
Were the profusion of gems worn for ornament in the higher
ranks of society a criterion, there would seem to be no lack of
these coveted treasures ; and, as a consequence, their commercial value ought to be very small. But it must be remembered
they are almost the exclusive endowment of a few privileged
classes, and have never been owned, to any great extent, by
the masses. The social distribution of precious stones has
always been limited ; and, on account of their imperishable
nature, they have very largely descended by inheritance, with
the titles and estates of their proprietors, so that, with all the
accumulations of the past, and the new accessions from recent