It is probably enough – more than enough, if we’re being honest – for you to know that gemstones are sparkly and pretty, and all but guaranteed to put a correspondingly pretty sparkle in the eye of the wearer. The colours, the shapes, the shine and shimmer; gemstones are a delight without knowing a single fact about them. As English Victorian novelist George Eliot put it: “These gems have life in them, their colors speak, say what words fail.” That being said, facts, trivia and knowledge always add an extra something special to any stone or piece of jewelry owned and worn. And these 7 fun facts about some of the most precious and prized gemstones may delight and intrigue you almost as much as their beauty!
1. Gemstones and Metaphysical Powers
The Greeks, Egyptians and Romans believed that gemstones contained metaphysical powers, with a magical ability to heal both body and mind. Sapphires, garnets, and pearls, in particular, were used to cure what ailed one, with the first amulet made of gemstones appearing in 500 BC.
2. Special Stones from Special Places
Although you can find gorgeous gemstones all over the world, certain extremely unique stones can only be found in very specific places. For example:
- The Fire Opal, formed in the depths of ancient volcanoes, can only be found in Australia and Mexico. Bonus fact: in the Middle Ages, women would wear Opals to protect the color of their blonde hair.
- The Kashmir Sapphire – with its unparalleled bright blue beauty and so rare that is hardly ever seen – hails from Kashmir in India.
- Tanzanite, an exquisite blue and violet stone that is said to be 1000 times rarer than diamonds – is found in only one location in the world: Mt Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, Africa.
3. Multi-Tasking Turquoise
Turquoise, the only gemstone to have an official color named after it, has, over the course of history, been prized in many cultures for many reasons. In the ancient Persian Empire, turquoise was worn around the neck or wrist to help protect the wearer from unnatural death. Meanwhile, the people of the Himalayas have, for thousands of years, revered turquoise, believing that it comes from the heavens above with the purpose of bringing protection to everyone who carries or wears it on their person. Turquoise is also sacred to many Native Americans, being used in the past as a shaman’s stone courtesy of a belief in the strong metaphysical properties of turquoise for spiritual growth. Finally, the Ancient Egyptians had a much practical use for turquoise: they used to grind turquoise gemstones up and turn it into blue eyeshadow!
4. A Royal Penchant for Precious Gems
The Queen of England’s jewelry collection, which includes any number of precious gemstones (aside from Her Majesty’s obvious plethora of diamonds), is worth a whopping $57 million dollars. During World War II, this multi-million-dollar collection of gemstones was hidden in a biscuit tin (must have been quite a large biscuit tin!) and buried deep underground at Windsor Castle. A trapdoor used to access the secret area where the tin box was kept still exists today!
Egyptian queen Cleopatra, meanwhile, may not have had 57 million dollars’ worth of gemstones to her name, or a castle to hide them under, but this famously stylish queen was also fond of all things sparkly. Her favorite gemstone? Peridot. This unique green stone is sometimes referred to as an ‘evening emerald’, a name thought to given courtesy of the fact that peridots do not darken at night – i.e., they will continue to glisten in candlelight. Another fun fact about peridots? This gemstone has been found at meteorite crash sites, from which we can infer that the peridot exists in space!
5. What’s in a Name?
There is a commonly held misbelief that garnet gemstones are named after a word meaning “blood”. What are they actually named after? The seeds of a pomegranate! Not only does the pomegranate seed look like a minute gem itself, in shape and sparkle, but the blood-red color of the seeds inside this fruit are also similar to the blood-red color of the garnet. The word “garnet” is thus derived from the Middle English word, ‘gernet,’ which means dark red; and that term came from the Latin word ‘granatum,’ which means seed.
6. Soft vs. Hard
Amber is the softest gemstone; diamond is the hardest.
Considered both the softest and lightest gemstone, amber is the progeny of resin and sap from the fossilized prehistoric trees. This beautiful, honey-colored amber is actually so light that it floats in salt water!
As for diamonds being the hardest gemstones, well this can come as no surprise. It is well-documented that diamonds are ranked as both the hardest and the strongest. In fact, they are so strong and hard that only diamonds can be used to cut other diamonds. This is, in part, what makes the diamond the perfect gemstone for everyday wear – it’s hard and hardy and not easily broken. That and, of course, the fact that diamonds are, quite simply, just so exquisitely sparkly!
7. A Gemstone for Every Birth Month
Every month has a gemstone attached to it, a practice which seems to have originated in Biblical times. And in 1912, Jewelers of America, a national association of jewelers in the United States, officially adopted the following list of birthstones – something to remember next time you’re searching for the perfect birthday gift for someone special!
- January: garnet
- February: amethyst
- March: aquamarine or bloodstone
- April: diamond
- May: emerald
- June: pearl, moonstone or alexandrite
- July: ruby
- August: peridot, sardonyx or sapphire
- September: sapphire
- October: opal or tourmaline
- November: citrine or yellow topaz
- December: turquoise, lapis lazuli, zircon, blue topaz or tanzanite
At Keezing Kreations we have decades of experience in designing customized jewelry that sends just the right message, using just the right gemstone for the occasion, the recipient, and the special moment in time. Whether you prefer colored gemstones or dazzling diamonds, classical styles, or modern magic, let us help you choose the perfect stone and style, and create a stunning and unique, but timeless, piece of jewelry guaranteed to delight the wearer for years to come.