Diamonds have the longest endurance of any substance known to man. On average they are 3.4 billion years of age. The word “diamond” comes from the Greek word adamas, meaning “unconquerable and indestructible.” Diamonds were worn in ancient times to promote strength, invincibility and courage. Diamond is also the gemstone of love: when carried or worn, diamond is said to advance positive relations with the opposite sex, to conquer infertility and to ensure fidelity. The earliest record of a man giving a diamond to a woman for her hand in marriage was in 1477, when the Archduke of Austria gave one to Mary of Burgundy. Now, more than 500 years later, diamonds are still the most popular gemstones in engagement rings.
The word “emerald” comes from the Greek word smaragdos, meaning “green.” A member of the beryl mineral species, it contains chromium, which gives emerald its green color. In ancient Egypt, this tranquil green gem was highly prized by the wealthy and by priests. It is said that Isis wore a green emerald in her headband and that those who looked upon it would be able to conceive. Emeralds in ancient Rome were highly prized and valued for their calming and soothing effects. Nero watched the Roman games in the Colosseum through a set of highly prized emerald glasses. Emeralds, like almost all green gemstones, are also thought to be advantageous for business/money ventures.
Ruby is made of aluminum oxide (corundum). The red in rubies is caused by trace amounts of chromium—the redder the gem, the more chromium. Rubies are found primarily in Myanmar, Thailand and Sri Lanka. The ruby represents the sun power in Hindu ancient writings, and is said to have been given as an offering to Buddha in China and Krishna in India. An ancient belief about rubies was that dreaming of them meant the coming of success in money matters and love.
Sapphire is also made of aluminum oxide and is considered the sister stone to the ruby. It comes in all colors except red, which has been designated as “ruby.” Blue sapphires have enjoyed increased popularity in recent years, which fashion mavens credit to the sapphire engagement ring given to Princess Diana. The Buddhists believe that the sapphire favors devotion and spiritual enlightenment. The ancient Greeks linked sapphire with Apollo, and wore it as an aid to prophecy when consulting oracles.