Beautiful gemstones are rare. This is especially true for larger stones, whose value is very high. The rarity of individual stones in nature greatly affects their value and price. Sometimes beautiful and durable grenades, which are among the more common minerals, have a much lower price than the emerald, very rarely present in larger forms, transparent and beautiful green colored crystals.
Some gemstones at different times enjoyed varying degrees of success, which largely depended on fashion. Others were highly appreciated only in some countries, e.g.. malachite and alexandrite in Russia.
From time immemorial, precious stones have been the object of admiration and wonder. They have been found more than once accidentally in rock crevices or in loose river or coastal gravels, however, they were often obtained with difficulty, and even risking their lives, by arranging long trips to inaccessible mountain areas or by extracting them from the depths of the earth. They have been used as ornaments for centuries and, along with gold and silver, have been a symbol of wealth and power. Being of great value, they often aroused the desire to have them at any cost, which even led to crime. According to an old Persian legend, precious stones are the work of Satan, who, having noticed the love of the mother of the human race, Eve, for the beautiful multicolored flowers growing in the gardens of paradise, he gave their wonderful colors to the formations of the earth, to stir up greed and temptation in the hearts of its inhabitants.
In the oldest fairy tales and legends, various gems are often mentioned, and there is even a legend, that the stone embedded in the first ring came from a rock in the Caucasus, to which the mythical hero Prometheus was chained.
In prehistoric excavations, next to zlotys, silver, bronze and copper bracelets and rings have preserved fluorite necklaces, rock crystal, amethyst, jadeitu, agate and amber. Lots of ornaments made of yarrow, amethyst, rock crystal, lapis lazuli, and emeralds from ancient mines were found in Egyptian tombs.
In the oldest descriptions, attention was paid to the durability and invariability of precious stones. Rulers of the East, who were particularly fond of jewels, they kept them in their vaults for centuries. In one of the Indian poems before 5 For thousands of years, a magnificent necklace of diamonds and rubies radiating a light similar to the light of the stars has been described. These two stones were considered the most valuable in the East, only sapphires were placed further, emeralds and topazes.
As mentioned in the Bible, the robes of the high priests of the Jews were adorned with precious stones - grenades, ametystami, agatami, onyksami, yarrow, emeralds, akwamarynami, topazami, rubinami, sapphires and others, which, however, on the basis of the description in the Bible, we cannot clearly identify. There are also interesting descriptions of precious stones in the Iliad and Odyssey by Homer.
In book XXXVII of the work Historia naturalis Pliny the Elder (Plinius Maior - Roman scholar r. 23—79) he devotes a lot of space to descriptions of gemstones. In the ancient world, diamonds were the most valued, for a long time only available to the rulers, after them Indian and Arabian pearls, emeralds in third place. Pliny emphasized the beautiful color of the emeralds, keeping, that when looking at them, the weakened eyesight rests. He also mentions, that Emperor Nero watched the games and gladiatorial fights through the great emerald. Pearls and emeralds valued at an enormous forty million sesterces belonged to Caligula's wife. Nero's bed was richly inlaid with gold and precious stones. There were priceless emeralds within the walls of Cleopatra's Palace. Pliny also described other stones - beryls, chrysoberyl, topazy, turquoise, grenades, amethysts, sardonyksy, chrysoprase, jasper, agates, opals and mountain crystals (rocky), which miners, hanging on ropes, broke from inaccessible rock crevices in the Alps. He also mentions amber imported from the Baltic Sea.