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Gemstones of Legends and Folklore

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I have always loved jewelry and gemstones. Not only did I want to wear these beautiful baubles, but I loved the colors of the different gems. As I got older and began to work more heavily in the jewelry and gemstone industry, I started learning more and more about the folklore behind each gemstone and began to understand the beauty of each legend and story. When I help someone pick out a particular gemstone or help design a lovely jewelry piece, I'll often let them know a little about the stories behind each stone.


Diamonds come from deep inside the earth. It has taken incredible a large amount of pressure and time to form these stones, and the exact details of its formation still remain a mystery. It was believed during the Middle Ages that diamonds came from a land that was plagued with six months of day and then six months of night. They believed that the stones were protected by poisonous snakes that would cut themselves by accident on the sharp points of the stones and would then drip venom onto the diamonds. This started the belief that diamonds had medicinal properties and could be an antidote for poison.


Dionysus was the Greek god of wine, drunkenness, and celebration. Legend has it that he became angry with the mortals on Earth and wanted to take revenge on them, so he allowed his pet tigers to eat the next person he came across. At this point, he saw the beautiful Amethysta as she was walking to the goddess Diana's temple. Dionysus took Amethysta and planned to feed her to the tigers. As this was happening, Amethysta screamed for Diana to help her. Diana heard her cries, and in order for her not to be eaten by the ferocious tigers, she turned Amethysta into a statue made of clear quartz. Dionysus immediately regretted his actions and started to cry tears of wine. These beautiful purple tears stained the statue, creating the beautiful hue of purple for the amethyst stone.


A legend in Colombia explains the color behind the beautiful green emeralds. They believed that the Greek god of war, Ares, created the first man and the first woman, Tena and Fura. He pledged to them that they would forever remain youthful as long as they were faithful to their relationship. Unfortunately, Fura did not remain faithful to her husband. But as the first couple began to age, Ares felt sorry for them, so he turned them into two steep cliffs that loom over the emerald mines in the Minero River valley in Colombia. It is believed that the emeralds found in the mines below are Fura's emerald green tears.


Burmese miners have referred to rubies as pigeon blood, but they were something completely different in Islamic legend. Muslims believed that their god, Allah, put an angel in place to hold the earth up. As the angel held the planet over his head, there was no place to rest his feet, so Allah made a mountain out of ruby for the angel to stand on that contained 7,000 holes. Each hole contained a sea that poured out beneath it.


Jade was formed as two super-continents collided, Gondwana and Eurasia. When this occurred, it formed the Atlas Mountains, the Himalayas, the Alps, and the Pyrenees. The ocean floor was pushed upward, and because of the pressures of the earth being compressed, elements were combined with the jadeite, also known as jade. Because of this process, traces of ocean life can be found on the highest mountains in the world. This story also inspired Chinese creation myth. In ancient Chinese legend, it was believed that the greatest Chinese god, Jade Emperor Yu-huang Shang-Ti, made men from clay in the palm of his hands. It is believed that he made mankind and laid them to dry in the sun. At this point, it started to rain, and this caused sickness in the world. In Chinese culture today, jade symbolizes bravery, honesty, humility, kindness, and wisdom.


The biblical book of Revelation talks about God speaking to John the Divine while he waits alone on the Greek island of Patmos. God tells him that the oceans will disappear and all will become land. It is on this land that they will find the New Jerusalem, and the foundation of this city will be made of gemstones, one of which is peridot.