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A History: Valuable Gem

A History: Valuable Gem


As long before, human already familiar with the use of jewelry. Not only in silver or gold but also, they bedazzle their self with jewelry made on precious stone, animal skeleton, or from plants. In ancient culture people have their own belief on gemstone as a sign of their appreciation to gemstone itself. In pre-historic era, knowledge about gemstone cultivation only based on how to carved a colored gemstone into plain, that made with basic carving tools, and to be worn for metaphysical purpose. As time passed by, human knowledge has been developed. They grow creatively in carving technique and they use it to cultivate gemstone and wrapped them with precious metals, such as silver and gold. Cultures like India, Egypt, China, Greece, have historical accounts on the beauty of Gems. They used gems as one of valuable commodities beside gold and silver. Gems trading itself has existed since over 5000 years BC, this consider gems as one of the oldest yet timeless trades.

Gemstone is known as gem, fine jewelry, jewel, semi-precious stone, or many people called it precious stone. Vary in colors and shapes, gemstone is made of mineral crystal, which in cut and polish form, is used to make jewelry and other adornments. Even thou not carrying materials that are not minerals many rocks; such as lapis lazuli, opal, and jade; and stones such as amber, jet, and pearl, are also used in jewelry making and considered as gemstones also. Gems are not always in a hard shape, sometimes soft minerals are used in jewelry because of their sheen and other physical appearance that have aesthetic value.

Mabe Pearl on White Mabe Earring

Their physical characteristic, such as color, clarity to a lesser extent, cut, unusual optical phemomena within the stone such as color zoning and asteria (star effects), make a stone more valuable. The Greeks, for example, greatly valued asteria gemstones, which were believe as powerful love charms, legend said that Helen of Troy was known to have worn star-corundum.

Aside from the diamond, the ruby, sapphire, emerald, pearl. and opal have also been considered to be precious. Up to the discoveries of bulk amethys in Brazil in the 19th century, amethyst was considered a precious stone as well, going back to ancient Greece. Even in the last century certain stones such as aquamarine, peridot, and cat’s eye (cymophane) have been popular and hence been regarded as precious.

Peridot on Tamiang Pendant

Today, distinction of gemstone is no longer made by the gemstone trade. Many gemstones are used in even the most expensive jewelry, depending on the brand name of the designer, fashion trends, market supply, treatments, etc. Still and all, diamonds, rubies, sapphires, and emeralds have a reputation that exceeds those of other gemstones.

Gem prices can be fluctuating heavily, lets take example of tanzanite, or quite stable like diamonds. Mostly, per carat prices of larger stones are higher than those of smaller stones, but popularity of certain sizes of stone and also its unique characters can affect prices. Prices range can be from US$1/carat for a normal amethyst to US$20,000–50,000 for a collector’s three carat pigeon-blood almost “perfect” ruby.

Indonesia itself, is a producer to some of the world’s best gems such as diamond, amethyst, kalimaya (opal), chalcedony, bacan (chrysocola), nephrite (jade), idocrase, and etc. Since ancient times, Indonesian are very familiar with gems and used them as jewelry and to creates spiritual heritage such as keris and spear, often also used as a symbol of one particular kingdom. Therefore, culture in precious stone is deeply embedded in Indonesian society.

Blue Topaz on Capung collection

Only a few places in Indonesia are referred as a mine of gems. Kalimantan, Sumatra, Java, and Maluku are one of them. They start to make gems as a promising commodity, because they already familiar to the gems itself. Besides famous gemstone that we familiar to, Indonesia have its own popular stone like, akik; where the stone has a high attraction of beauty and has great demand because of its existence since then. Kalimaya, bacan, jade, badar, pandan, pyrus are some types of agate stones that are hunted because it’s very difficult to determine the natural materials that consist in it. The more natural materials consist in a stone, the more expensive the price is. (es)

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