When Did Gemstones First Appear in Western Countries?

The term "precious stones" was not introduced until much later in the Western world.

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4 min

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Gem-related Field

Precious stones
The First Mines In The World
Legends could not have been as factual as we thought. Hera, the queen of the gods, was not wearing gems, as legend mentions it, but rather artistically worked pebbles enriched with gold and a few grains of Baltic amber. The Neolithic populations of Gaul had been more favoured a few thousand years earlier: they knew at least turquoise, a pretty stone which is still found from time to time in the province of Salamanca, and which surely came from mines that have now disappeared or been exhausted.

But, even though precious stones did not appear in Greece until at least five or six centuries before our era, thanks to the Phoenicians and Egyptians, the ancient oriental books reveals that long before Homeric times, the inhabitants of Asia already knew them and knew how to appreciate them. They must have been the subject of a large trade soon enough, because those identified in Egypt almost certainly came from India or Insulindia, despite the fact that North Africa was capable of supplying it in reasonably large quantities and of varying quality at the time.
Details of this stone:

Weight (cts): 2.44 cts
Origin: Brazil
Shape & Cut: Oval
Single/pair: Set
Stone type: Alexandrite
Color: Color Change Greenish-blue to Violetish-pink
Certified: SSEF
Who Were The First Men To Use Them?
Since historical times, three countries have competed in terms of both the scale of their deposits and the quality of the material extracted: the Far East, Brazil, and South Africa. The mining of diamonds, with their prodigious toughness, perfect inalterability, and sparkling flames, must have astonished all cultures. The diamond seems to have been discovered for the first time in the Far East, specifically in India: about 3000 years before our era. The kings of Anga must have possessed some huge diamonds (it is said that the English troops took them during the conquest of the Punjab).

The Egyptians were also conscious of diamonds: some experts believe that trade routes to Ethiopia allowed them to transport diamonds not only from there, but also from India. The precious mineral was not identified in the West until very late: Theophrastus admits to having missed it, and Pliny is the only one who talks about it in much details; despite the fact that he confuses it with sapphire and corundum (white sapphire).
Set Brazilian Alexandrite 2.44 cts

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Benjamin Poudevigne
Social Media Manager at GemMatrix
With over ten years of marketing experience, I finally decided to settle down in Bangkok to work in an area that I have always been interested in: the gemstones industry. I'm still learning how the market works on a daily basis, and I enjoy sharing my experience with those who are interested in learning more about gems in general.