Have you ever heard of Toadstone? To the Tudors and Jacobeans it was something sought after and to be worn in amulet and jewelry. This amazing “stone” desirability goes as far back as the days of ancient Rome. This stone had such a reputation that even royalty wore them. It was told that toadstone came from the head of toads and that it had miracleous power! Toadstone was said to cure many ailments and offered protection against many diseases among which included, kidney diseases, protection for newborns, protection from epilepsy, palsy, counteract all kinds of poisons, cures fever, cures sores and bowl problems, it was also helped to ease the pain of childbirth. Amazing!
Most often it was placed into an open bezel ring (twin bezels if you needed extra strength) the toadstone was thought to give off heat to the finger on which it was worn if the presence of poison were detected. Think of all the toads that had to die in order for people to feel protected!
In reality toadstone are the button-shaped fossil teeth of the fish Lepidotes. In folklore they were once thought to have come from the heads of living toads.
Pearls, cultured or freshwater, are considered to hold the power of love, money, protection, and luck. Pearls are thought to give wisdom through experience, to hasten karma and to bond engagements and love relationships. The Greeks believed that wearing pearls would promote marital bliss and prevent newlywed women from crying.
Early Chinese myths told of pearls falling from the sky when dragons fought against each other. Other ancient legends say that pearls are the tears of the gods.
Looking out the window this morning a song came into my head…Over the river and through the woods…okay my daughter was playing it on the piano. Point is it got me thinking about some of the memories of going my grandma’s for holidays. A time that was more simple and the holidays was about being together as a family. I put together this treasury on Etsy.com that attempts to commemorate the spirit of those beloved past holidays.
Diamonds have a long history. As early as the sixth century in India there is a description of the perfect diamond. It was said that it should have six sharp points, 8 very flat and similar sides and twelve straight and sharp edges. Even though the perfect diamond was described it was very rarely found. In India only the Brahmins were allowed to possess colorless diamonds. Only a few good quality diamonds made it out of India prior to 1000 A.D. After sixteen hundred years of operation the Indian diamond mines finally dried up. The Chinese were not interested in diamonds for esthetic qualities only in their usefulness as a cutting tool and for their mystical qualities. It was not until the fifteenth century that gemstone faceting was perfected.
In 1730 an alternate source for diamonds was found in Brazil. It only took about 135 years for the Brazilian mines to dry up and it did not take long for entrepreneurs to discover the much sought after gemstone in South Africa in 1867. Today South African mines produces about 97% of the world’s diamond supply.
What is a diamond? A fine diamond with desired fire and clarity is 100 percent pure carbon. Only one atom of nitrogen in a hundred thousand atoms of carbon can give off a yellowish tinge to the stone making it less valuable. Most diamonds are so small that the off color is barely noticeable. A truly flawless diamond is rare, about 1 in 800.
It was not until diamonds were faceted that they were considered more valuable then rubies and emeralds. Diamonds are the hardest of all natural substances and is the only gemstone that can be used as a cutting tool, making it more useful then any other gemstone.
What makes a gemstone precious or semi-precious? Mostly the classification between the two are for convience and in the past they were loosely based on the hardness of the stone although this system has many errors. Now classification is more determined by fashion and rarity. This is also inconsistent as rarity can also fluctuate with the finding of new mines or deposits. Opal by definition of rarity could be labeled as precious even though by most it is considered semi-precious. Other than the obvious diamond, rubies, emeralds and sapphires are considered precious. Rubies are of the most rare and hold world wide acclaim. Curiously though emeralds are priced about three times higher due to the naturally occurring chemical color-changing factors.
Semi-precious stones are considered everything else that someone might deem to be pretty. The precious stones seem to be a pretty elite group.