New York, New York (PressExposure) February 09, 2011 -- Valentine's day is approaching and we have noticed that ancient jewelry are popular choice of gift items of Sadigh Gallery's regular customers. We would like to share some special history of gem stones in Ancient worlds. We hope these interesting facts will help you select beautiful stone artifacts!
Here at Sadigh Gallery, we have various amber beads necklaces from Holy Land, as well as necklace made with prehistoric ambers containing insects. Known as Good Stone, Sacred Stone, Gold of North, amber may have been the first gemlike material used for personal adornment. Beads and pendants of this intriguing substance, the product of fossilized tree sap, have been found in prehistoric burials from as early as 15,000 years before Christ. Amber comes in different colors and is often opaque due to impurities that mixed naturally with the ancient sap. By the Bronze Age (circa 3,000 BCE), amber was in such demand that it was traded with tin and copper along the major trade routes in the Middle East. The earliest written references to amber are in Homer's Odyssey, from about 700 BCE. The Greek word for Amber was elektron, from which we get our word electricity, and in Greek mythology, amber was said to be the "solidified tears of the Heliades mourning the death of their brother." The Berber women of North Africa have worn Amber for centuries, along with Silver and other beads, as a talisman or Amulet against evil and as a cure for many illnesses.
Both the Mayans and the Chinese used carved jade beads to make jewelry, and they also carved jade creations into tools and weapons. Confucius once likened jade to virtue, and the gemstone took on important cultural significance in China. To express their fascination, the Chinese had a saying: "Gold has value, but jade is invaluable." A small piece of jade worn around the neck was said to dispel illness. The Chinese were not the only ones to feel this way. Jade was revered so highly by the Mayans and their Mesoamerican heirs that Aztec Emperor Montezuma once sent Cortez four jade beads in tribute. When the Conquistador dismissed the jade beads as nothing more than colored rocks, it's said that Montezuma was greatly relieved to send gold instead!
Bearing the color of our planet Earth, jewelry with lapis lazuli are popular among Sadigh Gallery customers. The Egyptians considered that 'its appearance imitated that of the heavens' and considered it to be superior to all materials other than gold and silver. They used it extensively in jewelry until the Late Period (747-332 BC) when it was particularly popular for amulets. Its primary use was as inlay in jewelry and carved beads for necklaces. Unlike most other stones used in Egyptian jewelry, it does not occur naturally in the deserts of Egypt but had to be imported either directly from Badakhshan (North Afghanistan) or indirectly as tribute or trade goods from the Near East. Lapis was also prized by the Sumerians. It was at times reserved for royalty and many cultures believed it had a religious significance. The Sumerians' quest for the precious blue stone established difficult overland trade routes to mountains of Afghanistan and back to their cities where the rare stone was made into beads, amulets and cylinder seals.
Varying in color from a grayish-green hue to sky blue, turquoise is an opaque stone with a waxy luster. The properties associated with it in folklore vary immensely, making turquoise a very important stone in many spiritual beliefs. Though raw turquoise has the propensity to change color over time, losing the beautiful blue tone and turning a less-attractive green, bright ling's beads turquoise has been sealed, preventing impurities to enter the pores of the stone and changing its color. Majority of turquoise jewelry can be found in our Near Eastern, Egyptian, Persian sections. We also have various carved turquoise statuettes from Asia and Egypt.
Used to be known in ancient cultures a sacred stone that purifies, Carnelian has been part of people's lives since antiquity. Ancient Egyptian tombs are full of examples of Carnelian jewels, because of their belief in the stone's power in the afterlife. According to their system, amulets of Carnelian could prove helpful in ensuring the Ka's (the soul's) passage into the next world. The Egyptians so revered the power of the stone that it was one of three used most often in their jewelry, along with turquoise and lapis lazuli. Elsewhere in the Middle East, Carnelian represents the Hebrew tribe of Reuben and the Apostle Phillip and some Muslims call it the Mecca stone. Muslim tenets hold that engraving the name of Allah on Carnelian stones boosts courage and some even believed that Allah would grant all the desires of wearers of the stone. In Hebrew literature, Carnelian appears as a stone in Aaron's breastplate.
In Europe, Carnelian has also been an important symbol in history. Ancient Greeks and Romans called it Sardius and used the stone for signet rings, cameos and intaglios. In more modern times, Goethe attributed the powers of protection against evil, of continuation of hope and comfort, and of good luck. In Asia, Tibetans created amulets of silver with generous applications, much as the Egyptians used these same stones, of Carnelian, Turquoise and Lapis Lazuli. In India, Hindu astrology names Carnelian as the secondary stone of Scorpios.
The Ancient Peoples of the world used metal for most of their jewelry and were skilled in working with gold, gold still being the chief metal used for jewelry because of its attractive color and the ease with which it can be shaped or worked. Gold has caused passions to flare ever since it was first discovered. Its appeal is both visual and tactile; its magic is its virtual indestructibility. These qualities, together with its rarity, meant that it was ideal for transformation into jewelry, gold jewelry being worn by both men and women since time immemorial.