Part Two in my series on How to Pick the Perfect Gem is all about mood and perception.
Jewelry has long been indicative of an individual’s wealth and standing in society. In Sub-Saharan Africa “Bridewealth,” or the number of shell bead discs you can pile up on your wives necks, are a sign of prosperity, just as big diamond chokers were to the Victorians and the right pearls are to a Boston Brahmin.
Woven into the belief systems of many cultures, mine included, is the tenant that gemstones have the power to balance the mind and heal the body. And while the science behind it may not be exactly sturdy, there’s no doubt that jewelry has an affect on the wearer. Putting on a piece of jewelry sends a message to the world and can describe your attitude in one visual statement, especially where gemstones are involved.
This purple gem is the crowning stone of the chakra system — the energy centers in the body that represent the connection between the physical and the spiritual. Therefore, it makes sense that the amethyst is used for focus during meditation and to boost your imagination.
Sapphires are a popular second choice to the diamond engagement ring. Prince Charles gave Lady Diana Spencer a sapphire that was made much of by the press and spawned innumerable imitations. They’re also the traditional gift of the 65th wedding anniversary, as they are felt to enhance truth and fidelity. Though if you’ve been married for 65 years, surely you’ve thrown in a needed prevarication somewhere along the line…
Along with an uptick in devotion and passion, this firecracker has been known to strengthen survival instincts, which can come in handy depending on the levels of passion and/or devotion it inspires.
From the latin aqua marina and found in exotic places like Sri Lanka and Madagascar the legend of the aquamarine says that sailors wore the gemstone to prevent seasickness. I don’t now about you but if wearing an aquamarine (plus some judiciously prescribed dramamine )is what it takes to preserve the mood of a shipboard romance, I’m right there.
Just the importance we’ve placed on this gemstone makes it nearly impossible not to feel good while you’re wearing it. According to DeBeers, “A Diamond is Forever.” That is, until you go to hock it.
Emeralds are said to focus and sharpen mental clarity. In a prescient move, the Hooker Emerald — no, I’m not making that up — was sold by Ottoman Sultan Hamid II to provide some get-out-of-town cash in case of a coup — which, okay, didn’t work as he was caught and the funds transferred to the next administration. Gems have been used as cash since they were first mined and there are many stories of these precious bits being sewn in to the clothing of refugees the world over.
Opals are known, much like me, for their fire and brilliance. The internal structure makes for a unique defraction of light, revving up the dazzle quotient of the stone and giving it a quality like no other. With all their pizzazz, it’s only fitting that opals are known to fuel originality and dynamic creativity.
A stone known to stimulate passion, rubies have long been associated with glamour and wealth. In 2011 the jewelry collection of a no less passionate person than Elizabeth Taylor was auctioned, including this 8.24 carat pigeon blood prize that broke the record at the time for price-per-carat.
Turquoise is one of the dominant materials in the jewelry of the American Southwest. Here turquoise is ubiquitous. Native Americans particularly believed in the healing powers of turquoise – a symbol of earth, sky, and water. Since its discovery, its been worn to protect the wearer from harm and illness.
Pearls are the only gemstone that change with the wearing. They take on a luster from the oil in your skin that make them very specific to you. For generations, pearls have represented a right of passage and a girl’s first strand of pearls were the hallmark of her entering adult society. When you put on pearls, you set a very specific tone – you can’t help but looking classy and understated. Consider some of the style greats like C.Z. Guest, Jackie Kennedy or Audrey Hepburn as Holly Golightly in Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Even in this statement necklace she was swanning in demure style all up and down 5th Ave.