I think, on the most basic level, we are attracted to gems and crystals because of the primal, childlike fascination with what glitters, shines and is colourful. I think most of us had a rock collection as a child, and for some of us, including me, this carried on into adulthood. The Legend Behind the Stone: Labradorite, was my first post on the folklore behind gems, due to the interest I thought I would do another post with multiple stones included.
The stones we think of as gems have been part of the Earth for a very long time, and humans have been using them since our earliest days. Let's start with Rome.
A Roman myth tells the story of how Bacchus, god of wine, ecstasy, and madness, became infuriated by an insult from a human. He swore to avenge himself on the next human who crossed his path, summoning tigers to work his will. The unlucky human turned out to be the maiden Amethyst who was on her way to worship at Diana's shrine. The goddess took what only the gods might consider pity on the innocent girl, turning her into pure rock crystal, so that she would be forever safe from the tigers' claws. Bacchus wept tears of remorse when he saw the lovely statue, and his tears stained the quartz purple, creating amethyst. This story is the same in Greek mythology, just with Greek names.
Malachite was referred to as the Peacock stone, sacred to the Roman Goddess Juno, whose sacred bird was the peacock. Juno was enchanted by the eye-like patterns in Malachite that resembled the pattern in her sacred peacocks feathers. Malachite was also ground up and used as eye shadow. We now know that is not a good idea.
The ancient Greeks and Romans believed Diamonds were tears of the Gods and splinters from falling stars. Cupids arrows were supposed to be tipped with diamonds, having thus a magic that nothing else can equal. Plato wrote about diamonds as living beings, embodying celestial spirits. The Romans also wore diamonds because they were thought to possess broad magical powers over life’s troubles, being able, in particular, to give to the wearer strength, invincibility, bravery, and courage during battle.