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Religious and Cultural Connections

Gemstones have had a place in religion for thousands of years. The Bible refers to the twelve stones set in the breastplate of the High Priest symbolising the twelve tribes of Israel. In the book of Revelations twelve stones are once again mentioned as the foundation stones of the wall of New Jerusalem. Though the symbolism of each stone is open to speculation, most of
these stones have been used in churches in one form or another since the inception of Christianity. Precious stones adorn the tiara and mitre of the Pope and Bishops as well as the shrines and icons found in Christian churches.


Temples and places of worship of all religions were and still are adorned with gemstones, as signified particularly by moonstones in India, malachite and azurite in Egypt, agates in Rome, jade in China, crystal in Japan, turquoise in Persia (Iran) and amethyst wherever Christianity developed in Europe.

While many of the beliefs surrounding gemstones are regarded in the scientifically-influenced Western (and mainly Christian) thinking as perhaps primarily of historic influence, the Eastern religions have a far greater reverence for gemstones. The Chinese believe that all natural things have an animate spirit of their own. Jade is the symbol of the virtues of mercy, modesty,
courage, justice and wisdom. The Japanese regard rock crystal as the symbol of purity, patience and perseverance.

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