The diamond—a pure, essential form of carbon set in a ring and held by a man on his knees—represents commitment, fidelity and the beauty of matrimony. But the diamond has other traditions and uses as well, long forgotten.
According to legend, Aquamarine originated in the treasure chest of the mermaids. This beautiful gem is March's birthstone, and has been reputed for ages to be a lucky stone for those who travel on or over water. Aquamarine carries the energy of courage and serenity, releasing anxiety and restlessness.
In 1981, in a small Tibetan village in the Himalayas of northern Nepal, I sat quivering in front of Wong Chu, a shamanic practitioner of the ancient Bonpo sect of Tibet. With his drums, bells, fire and chanting, he called in the local spirits on behalf of a sick villager while I watched silently in the corner of his stone hut.
Topaz was one of the original gems on the Breastplate of the Second Temple, inscribed with the name of one of the twelve tribes of Israel. The name "topaz" comes from the island Topazio, which is in the Red Sea. While many of the birthstones we know today have been changed over the millennia, topaz is one gem that is almost universally accepted as November’s birthstone.
Long, long ago, when the earth was young and elements were divine, the Storm God lolled about, playing amidst the wind and clouds in his luminous sphere. The rain came down in sheets, whipped through the sky, pelting the earth. Amid the lightning strikes, with black clouds riding the mountains and plains like emboldened dragons, the sunlight broke through the darkness. A rainbow appeared. The storm god grew angry and jealous of the rainbow's power. In a moment, he petrified it. Pieces of rainbow fell to the earth, becoming opals.
Sapphire makes a wonderful alternative to diamond. When chosen for a wedding or engagement ring, it can assist in creating a balance of power in a relationship—helping couples communicate in a way that takes responsibility for each individual's own thoughts and actions.
If you are haunted by vague terrors in the night—those meandering demons, night hags and phantoms that wander bedside between the arsenic hours of two and four, when sleep is as illusive as hems from the moon's yellow skirt—peridot might be just the gem for you.