Birthstones and more
A bit of history first
Uh, books are written about the history of jewelry. So, I shall be brief. Throughout history, people liked gems a lot. They used gems to impress and control. Or defy. Empires were taken over with these little gems. Murder and mayhem erupted. It’s quite interesting, really. Sooo….
Yep, I believe it started out likely by some caveman finding a gem and giving to his woman. It wasn’t polished, but I’m sure, to her, his gift was beautiful. If our boy was savvy he may have figured out a way to drill a hole in the little gem (thus making it semi-precious) so she could hang in from a leather strip as maybe the first necklace.
Over time, this gift giving became popular and noticed. Really noticed as they are today. Note some of the ‘rocks’ worn in wedding rings by wives of the wealthy. Oddly enough, gems were also given special merits as healing and divination and thus worn as amulet or talismans. Along with that came power. Meaning he who wore the stone, was important. A king maker.
Then with time and the local gems of that area evolved into the craft of making jewelry. People couldn’t read. But they sure could tell something about the wearer. Was he important? Rich? For example, Rome’s signet rings worn by senators of elite families and those were all the king’s men who wore the same stone or pin or brooch.
One bit of history I learned about was the cape pin. You know, the one with the long spike you use to punch through the fabric and twist around on the C clasp. Well, that long spike created its own law. During the Middle Ages, it could not be over 9” long. Why? Because the ‘pin’ proved deadly since it could be used to kill as in a defense weapon. For example, a woman could stab an attacker if necessary, which was usually the case.
The Dark Ages followed the fall of Rome in Europe. Europe plunged into a rebellion to never become gluttonous and excessive as Rome. (So much for that idea.) So, they quit bathing and they quit wearing jewelry…unless it had a purpose. Rings, cape pins, belts showed power, particularly in the Church. But commoners were forbidden to wear any. No necklaces, bracelets, hair pieces. Nope. Nada. But that wore off soon enough and back to enjoying the world of wearing and giving gems stones.
Over time and history, gems have created rich traditions as a Roman father would give his daughter a string of pearls when she became a young woman. And another… Amethysts could keep hangovers at bay Ha. Tried it; doesn’t work.
As for healing, mediations, and other New Age thoughts, it turns out that most of those ideas were and are more placebo — what we wish were true but scientifically proven wrong. I really appreciate what Barbara G Walker has to say about this in THE BOOK OF SACRED STONES, Fact and Fallacy in the Chrystal World that much of what we are told is due to little understanding of science and truth. Therefore, proving that we do have an amazing imagination because many qualities attributed to gems turn out to be just superstitious, sales tactics, or are just plain impossible.
God gave us a beautiful earth and in it are some hidden gems to be enjoyed for their beauty. I agree with Ms Walker. “As for meanings of various gems according to their positions in various lists – well, make up your own. Everyone else does.”
But whoever set these gems to the months of our calendar gifted us with even more to enjoy even as gifts to loved ones. See, we aren’t that far away from the cave after all.
So, stay tuned each month to what bits and pieces I have gathered to share with you about YOUR birth stone. Most of all, I hope you enjoy these gems’ crazy histories They do make for a good story.
Award-winning author Historical Fiction – Contemporary Romance
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