ABOUT THE FOUR C's:
GEM MYTHS AND MEANINGS|
AMETHYST -- A Greek myth tells of the God of Wine, Dionysus (later known as Bacchus to the Romans) was angered one day by a human and vowed to have the next mortal he laid eyes on, be devoured by tigers. Who should happen along but the beautiful maiden Amethyst on her way to pay tribute to the goddess Diana. Seeing her faithful servant on a path to certain doom, Diana turned Amethyst into a pure crystalline quartz statue, thereby ensuring her protection from the vicious tigers. Upon seeing the miracle, Dionysus fell into a deep sadness, his tears falling into his goblet of wine. Overflowing, the wine and tears ran to the base of the quartz which in turn soaked up every last drop and turned the purple hue we have come to know in the amethyst gem.
Hence the gems' name, which comes from the Latin word "amethystus" literally translated to, "not drunk." In fact, it was believed that wearing jewellery adorned with this stone granted the wearer the ability to consume a copious amount of alcohol without its' debilitating effects.
AQUAMARINE -- Derives its' name from "sea water." According to some legends, aquamarine is the treasure of mermaids, with the power to keep sailors safe. Supposedly its' powers are particularly strong when immersed in water. While on land, it is said to have a soothing influence on married couples.
Sister stone to the emerald, aquamarine is a blue coloured beryl whereas its' relative is green.
DIAMOND -- Comes from the Greek word, "adamus" which means unconquerable. Fitting that it should be the gem most used to symbolize ones' love. Diamonds started their history as being worn only by men as they were supposedly able to instill courage and virtue to soldiers in battle. It wasn't until the mid-nineteenth century when Agnes Sorel, mistress to King Charles VII of France, began wearing diamonds and started the new fashion for women.
The hardest substance known to man because of its' being composed of a single element -- crystallized carbon. Being the most sought after gem, diamonds are graded on four different values, also known as "The Four C's."
EMERALD -- Cleopatra reportedly valued her emeralds more than any other gem, and with good cause as the ancient Egyptians revered them as symbols of fertility and rebirth. The Romans believed that emeralds with a pale hue were immature and would grow to a deeper, richer colour with age. The ancient Roman scholar Pliny was so moved by the emerald's lush colour he wrote, "nothing greens greener."
When looking for an emerald, remember that very few are completely free of inclusions. In fact, since most are included, these growth characteristics have been romanced by the French as "jardin," (pronounced: zh[a']r-dan) meaning "garden."
GARNET -- Taken from the Latin word "granatus" meaning "seed-like" It was given this name because, upon discovery, garnet crystals reminded early scientists of the shape and colour of the pomegranate fruit.
Noah, it is reported, used a lantern made of garnet in order to safely steer his Ark through the darkness of the night.
OPAL -- Dates back to the Cretaceous period when dinosaurs roamed the earth. It was formed as Silica from decomposing rocks mixed with ground water, collected, and petrified in underground cavities.
In ancient times, opal had been regarded as the luckiest and most magical of all the gem's because of its' ability to showcase a multitude of colours. The Greeks of old believed the stone to give it's bearer the powers of foresight and prophecy. The Arabs of Mohammed's time were quite enamored of the gem, and were convinced they were carried to earth on bolts of lightning. One myth (probably of Greek origin) tells of a storm god throwing a bolt of lightning at the rainbow that ended his storm. The subsequent explosion of colours fell to the earth, embedding themselves in the rocks, creating the opal.
In the 1300's, opal was the most popular gem used for jewellery in Europe. When the Black Plague struck, people believed that a recently inflicted person's opal would flare up and then totally lose its' colour upon their death.
Apparently, Louis XIV of France even got in on the slandering of opal's good name by naming each of his horse-drawn coaches after gems. Opal's driver, known to rarely drive sober, would get into many accidents. It was viewed as an unlucky coach to travel in.
The final nail in the coffin came in the 19th century when Sir Walter Scott's novel, "Anne of Geirstein" depicted an opal as the sole reason to the protagonist's anguish. Although the "bad luck" incidences are later explained in the same writing, the opal's reputation stayed as being unlucky.
PEARL -- Long been a favorite for brides and newly weds. The ancient Greeks believed that wearing pearls would promote harmony in a marriage and prevent newlyweds from shedding tears. Also, a very popular gem to Ancient Egyptians. Reportedly, Cleopatra dissolved a single pearl in a glass of wine and drank it, simply to win a wager with Marc Anthony that she could consume the wealth of an entire country in just one meal.
Cultured pearls are made when a farmer implants a tiny bead in the oyster upon which layers of nacre are eventually deposited until the pearl is large enough for harvesting. Pearls do occour when a natural irritant is caught within an oyster, however it happens infrequently and, more often than not, produces a baroque, or irregularly shaped pearl. The most important qualities to look for in a pearl is its' lustre (shine), and its' shape (the rounder the better).
PERIDOT -- Originally only mined at night because legend said that peridot could not be easily seen during the day. Peridot was said to have the power to drive away evil spirits and was even able to strengthen the power of any medicine drunk from goblets carved from the gemstone.
Born of fire, small crystals of peridot are often found in the rocks created by volcanoes and also can be found in meteors that fall to earth. Peridot is only found in green, ranging from a summery light yellowish green to a grass-like green.
RUBY -- Ancient Egyptians believed that rubies were born of the sun because of their fiery colour. The people of Burma believed in the rubies' power so much so that a man could become impervious to harm in battle if he had a ruby of sufficient size implanted under the skin.
On the Moh scale of hardness, (located in the left-hand border) ruby scores a 9 out of 10 -- tied with sapphire and only beaten by diamond as the hardest natural substance on earth. Clarity guidlines are not as rigorous with rubies as with diamonds because a flawless ruby is virtually impossible. Rubies, like emeralds, are expected to have inclusions.
SAPPHIRE -- Ancient Persians believed that the earth rested on a giant sapphire and its' reflection coloured the sky.
Tied with ruby on the Mohs scale of hardness, (located in the left-hand border) making it an excellent gem for jewellery.
TOPAZ -- Believed to contain the golden glow of the mighty sun god Ra, the Ancient Egyptians believed the topaz to be a very powerful amulet against harm. Also Capable of protecting the wearer from poisons, according to the Greeks, by changing colours in the presence of tainted food or drink.
Topaz comes in colours such as brown, orange, red, and pink but its' most common are yellows and blues because of being the birthstones for November and December, respectfully.
TURQUOISE -- Probably one of the oldest gemstones around, worn by Pharoahs and Aztec Kings. Its' colour is so distinctive, that its' name is used to describe any color that resembles it.
The Apache believed this gem helped warriors and hunters to aim accurately while, in Asia, it was considered protection against the evil eye. Many Middle Eastern countries reported that the health of a person wearing turquoise could be assessed by variations in the colour of the stone.