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Ruby in Sanskrit, the word for ruby is ratnaraj, or “king of precious stones.” In ancient Hinduism, it was believed by some that those who offered fine rubies to the god Krishna could be reborn as emperors. Rubies were divided into four castes. The Brahmin, for example, granted the advantage of perfect safety. The stone is also mentioned at least four times in the Bible, usually as a representative of beauty and wisdom. Numerous early cultures believed, because of the stone’s likeness to the color of blood, that rubies held the power of life. Among European royalty and the upper classes, rubies were thought to guarantee good health, wealth, wisdom, and success in love. They’ve became some of the most sought-after gems.

Amber Though technically fossilized tree resin and not a stone, amber is still considered a gem. In Norse mythology, Freyja cried tears that turned into gold and amber when her husband was away. Amber is affiliated with electricity and light: We derive the word electricity from the Greek name for amber, elektron, and the stone, once believed to be made of congealed sunlight, was sacred to the Greek god Apollo. The Chinese believed amber to be the soul of the tiger transformed after death.

Garnet Garnet was another of the stones thought to be given by god to King Solomon. Hades gave pomegranate seeds, which are often associated with the stone, to Persephone before she left him as a token of safety, so garnets are often given as gifts upon departure for travel. When given in this context, they’re believed to grant quick, safe returns and eradicate the emotional distance between separated lovers. Garnets also have ties to light and to work: Plato is said to have had his portrait engraved on a garnet by a Roman engraver, and it’s said that Noah used a finely cut, glowing garnet to illuminate the ark. For their color, garnets can symbolize the blood of Christ, and in the Koran, garnets are said to illuminate the Fourth Heaven of the Moslems.

Sapphire. Legend has it that the first person to wear a sapphire was Prometheus, the rival of Zeus, who took the gemstone from Cacaus, where he also stole fire from heaven for man.

The ancient Persians believed sapphires were a chip from the pedestal that supported the earth and that its reflections gave the sky its color.

Sapphire is mentioned in the Bible as being one of the twelve “stones of fire” (Ezekiel 28:13–16) that were given to Moses and set in the breastplate of Aaron (Exodus 28:15–30). Sapphire is also one of the twelve gemstones set in the foundations of the city walls of Jerusalem (Revelations 21:19) and associated with the Apostle St. Paul.

The guardians of innocence, sapphires symbolise truth, sincerity and faithfulness, and are thought to bring peace, joy and wisdom to their owners. The ancient Sinhalese believed that the powers of wisdom were contained within sapphires and that when the wearer of a sapphire faced challenging obstacles the gem’s power enabled them to find the correct solution.

In India it was believed that a sapphire immersed in water formed an elixir that could cure the bite of scorpions and snakes. Alternatively, if it were worn as a talisman pendant, it would protect the wearer against evil spirits.

The following legend is Burmese in origin and highlights sapphires’ connection with faithfulness:

Eons ago Tsun-Kyan-Kse, a golden haired goddess with sapphire blue eyes, presided lovingly over the temple of Lao-Tsun. Everyday, the temple’s chief monk Mun-Ha, meditated before the golden goddess accompanied by his devoted companion, a green-eyed cat named Sinh. One day the temple was besieged by a group of terrible outlaws. When they threw Mun-Ha to the floor, Sinh leapt fiercely at the bandits, jumping up on his master’s chest to protect him. The wrong doers fled screaming in fear, never to return and in gratitude for his courage, the golden goddess awarded Sinh with her sapphire blue eyes. To this day, Sinh’s ancestors guard over the temple.

The temple still stands and is populated by Siamese cats with striking blue eyes (typically this breed has green eyes).

For hundreds of years blue sapphires were the popular choice for engagement and wedding rings.

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