The Extraordinary Gift of Beads and Jewelry

From the beginning, a gift has been a symbol of how we feel about another person

The perfect gift shows the recipient how we think and feel about them. We can borrow the symbolism of other cultures to attach meaning to our own gifts, making them extraordinary. A written note or spoken line which accompanies a gift can clearly communicate a sincere sentiment or heartfelt emotion, perhaps making the message even more important than the gift itself.

Some of the first gifts of prehistory may have been transparent pebbles of amber, shimmering pearls or other found natural objects of extraordinary beauty.

The gift of hand-fashioned beads dates from ancient times, at least 75,000 years ago in Africa and 40,000 years ago in Europe. At a site called Sungir near Moscow, a tomb was found that contained clothing adorned with thousands of miniature beads fashioned from mammoth tusk--surely a gift of love. Since the dawn of prehistory, humankind has been passionate about the art of body ornamentation, creating bracelets, anklets and necklaces and attributing symbolic powers to the Earth's store of gemstone and natural materials. Gemstones became talismans with special powers to protect one from harm, insure good health, bolster courage and attract love.

Gemstone Chips

The meaning of gemstones across cultures

Amethyst was thought by the ancient Greeks to be conducive to a sober and serious mind. It became a stone of royalty for the Egyptians, standing for integrity, and it was worn by warriors to aid their courage. In Europe, amethyst was considered to be the stone of St. Valentine and that of faithful, committed lovers.

Amethyst Gemstone Beads

Seawater-green aquamarine was dedicated by the Greeks to the goddess of love, Aphrodite. Greek myth also tells us that the stone was a gift to the mermaids by King Neptune, the god of the sea. It was thought to possess the majesty and power of the ocean and was worn by sailors for courage and as a talisman of good luck.

Aquamarine Gemstone Beads and Components

Fire-red to orange carnelian was believed by the Romans to be a stone of courage, able to shore up self-confidence and strength and to increase physical energy. Give a necklace of faceted carnelian beads set off with silver and black onyx.

Carnelian Gemstone Beads

In ancient Greece, coral was used as an amulet to prevent accidents, particularly for children, near bodies of water. Whitish coral has been worn to deepen the bonds of affection, while the pinker or reddish shades are claimed to attract passionate love.

Red Coral Gemstone Beads and Components

Turquoise has long been associated with gods and goddesses in cultures spanning the globe, in ancient Egypt, Persia, China and the Americas.

Among North American Indian tribes, turquoise has been viewed as a male stone of power and the Apaches believed that it could be found in the damp ground at the end of the rainbow. Turquoise is said to attract prosperity and success and has long been prized as a powerful talisman with healing properties. Share the story of this "power" gemstone and then give a ring with a turquoise setting on the outset of a new job, or give a turquoise and gold necklace to a dear friend recovering from an injury.

Turquoise Gemstone Beads and Components

In the Middle East, it was said that Noah guided the ark by the light of a garnet lantern during the rain and darkness of the deluge. Garnet has long been considered insurance for travelers against misfortune. It was said to repel insects during the Middle Ages and was worn by the crusaders as an aid to safely find their way home. In the 18th and 19th centuries, it was even used as a guard against vampires in Eastern Europe. An extension of that idea is to use it to ward off bad dreams.

Garnet Gemstone Beads

Since the earliest of times, lapis lazuli has been associated with strength and courage and thought to be effective in warding off evil. The Sumerians believed that the spirit of their gods lived within the blue stone. In India, lapis lazuli and gold is worn by children for protection and good health.

Lapis Lazuli Gemstone Beads and Components

Pearls were probably first found along the coastline of India. The earliest myth says that pearls were formed when oysters opened their shells, rose to the water's surface and were seeded by the early morning's drops of dew and the first rays of sparkling sunlight. The pearl's unique qualities of luster and iridescence were noted by Homer in the Odyssey: "Earrings bright with triple drops that cast a trembling light."


In India, a wish for a happy marriage may be conveyed to a new bride by way of a string of pearls. In contrast, pearls make the perfect gift to divers and swimmers in the South Seas: They're thought to be a magical protection against shark attacks.

Having what appears to be an inward glow, pearls are thought to be useful in tapping inner wisdom and nurturing the growth of love. Pearls make a special gift: for a new bride, for those seeking spiritual wisdom or just to celebrate natural beauty.

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**Please note that all metaphysical or healing properties listed are collected from various sources. This information is offered as a service and not meant to treat medical conditions. Fire Mountain Gems and BeadsĀ® does not guarantee the validity of any of these statements.