Evidence of the use of precious stones in early times as amulets and talismans has been found in many ancient records. Many scholars assume that the belief in the magical uses of these stones gave rise to their use as objects of personal jewelry. It’s difficult to prove this theory because even the oldest books written on the subject were written many centuries after the first uses of precious stones. Thousands of years went by before people could attain the level of civilization necessary for the production of even the simplest form of writing.
In the case of stones we can conclude that the stones that were supposed to be good or evil were selected because of their natural form, which suggested the shape of an animal or a part of the human body. On the other hand, wearing precious stones is more likely to have been due to the attraction of bright colors by the wearer and the desire to display this distinguishing mark that would bring them attention and admiration. This theory exists within the animal kingdom and has served as a foundation for the premise of natural selection.
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It seems likely that this is the real explanation of the motive for the love of precious stones. Since the stones are motionless, they cannot have impressed the mind of primitive people with the idea that they were alive. The stones were not imposing as a mass, and their form did not look like any primitive shape. This idea leads us to believe that what attracted the primitive man to these stones was their brilliance and color. The effect these qualities had upon the visual sense of the primitive man compares to the effect the stones produce upon infants. A baby is not afraid of a small, brightly colored object and will eagerly put out its hand to take, hold, and look at it. Because the stone is easy to handle, there is nothing to suggest lurking danger and nothing to interfere with the pleasurable sensation that is aroused by the beautiful play of color. In the baby's naïve admiration of what is brilliant and colored, the baby represents the mental attitude of the primitive man.
The first objects in history that used for personal decoration were goods that could easily be strung or bound together- for example, soft shells or shiny seeds. Harder gemstones were then only collected, as no one had the tools as of yet, to make holes in them.
Precious stones and diamonds were thought to be the source of sin and sorrow in the East. A Persian legend of the origin of these stones explains this notion. In the legend, God created the world with no useless things such as silver, gold, diamonds or precious stones. However, Satan, always eager to bring evil to mankind, watched carefully to see what appealed to the appetites and passions of man. He noted that Eve loved the beautiful colored flowers in the Garden of Eden, so he therefore imitated the flower’s colors out of the earth, producing precious stones and diamonds. After much time, these stones appealed so much to the greed and covetousness of people, that they have been the cause of much evil and crime.
In the present time, if people were to admit their honest beliefs, we would find that we have just as much faith in the power of gemstones as people did in the past. However people are ashamed of their fondness for these stones and do not recognize that behind all of the superstition that exists, there is a deeper meaning in these stones than what we first perceive. People become happy when they learn that many of the soldiers in the Austro-Prussian War of 1886 carried amulets and that the great French soldier Marshal Canrobert wore an amulet in the Crimean campaign. During the Russo-Japanese War, the Russian army was given various objects that had been blessed by a priest. These objects were pictures, amulets, or religious medals.
All gems that were thought to have a connection with the moon took on a mysterious character. Lighting up the dark sky, when evil spirits were aroused, the moon was sometimes regarded as threatening. At other times, the moon was thought to have the power to conjure these evil spirits and scare them away into the darkness.
The symbolic significance of the colors of precious stones was studied at considerable length by Giacinto Gimma, who gathered together a great quantity of material on the subject. For each color, Gimma wrote about what it meant to wear such a color, which gemstone represented each color, which day of the week corresponded to the color, and which animal represented it.
In his writings, he stated that yellow worn by a man, denoted secrecy, and was appropriate for the silent lover. Yellow when worn by a woman, however, indicated generosity. Golden yellow was the symbol of the sun and Sunday. The yellow stone was the chrysolite or the yellow jacinth. The animal connected with yellow was the lion, associated with the astrological sign, Leo. Yellow also represented adolescence in a person's life. Roman matrons used to cover their head with a yellow veil to show their hope for offspring and happiness. To wear yellow clothing was a sign of grandeur and nobility.
The color red, when worn by a man, indicated power, nobility, lordship, and vengeance. When worn by a woman, red represented purpose, and pride. The color red represented the planet Mars and Tuesday. Ruby was the gemstone used to represent red. Oddly, the lynx was the animal which represented red. Red symbolized full manhood, as the color is so vivid. Its number was nine. The Ancients covered those who died in battle with red, and the Italian code of criminal laws, known as “Digesto Nuovo,” was bound in red, to signify that a bloody death awaited thieves and murderers.
The influence of color on the nervous system was studied by some of the leading authorities on hypnotism. Dr. Paul Ferez found that red light is stimulating, and blue light is calming and suggested that hypnotists should have two rooms for their reception. In one, the curtains, chair coverings, wallpaper, etc, should be red. In the other room, everything should be all violet-blue. Patients suffering from a lack of willpower or depression should be brought to the red room and those who are prey to over-excitability, led to the blue room. Dr. Ferez wrote about the sedative qualities of the violet-blue color which can be helpful in inducing a hypnotic state. For hypnotizing someone, he recommended a violet blue disc, which was to be rotated rapidly before the eyes of the patient, the movement serving to attract and hold the patient's gaze better than any mobile object would.
In these inscriptions, there is also mention of "the aan rame" and "the aban la rame," or "the Stone of Love” and "the Stone of Hate.” Evidently, these stones were believed to excite one or other of these contradictory passions in the heart of the wearers, and they may both can be compared with the stones of memory and forgetfulness in the “Gesta Romanorum.”