Gemstone Usage in History
When it comes to gemstones, it is not unsurprising that there are a lot of odd stories floating around. Some propagate these myths to increase the stone's value, some might stem from old legends, and some might exist just for the sake of having a fun legend to tell.
Red garnet is a well-beloved for its beauty. There is no shortage of countries and cultures that found red garnet to be simply gorgeous. However, when it came to usage, ancient Romans fit it into signet rings for sealing wax.
Another peculiar use of garnet was for ammunition. Supposedly, those who resisted British rule in Kashmir decided to lock and load their weapons with garnet, believing it was better than the lead-standard for firearms at the time.
If you're an artist, you already know where this is headed. In more popular cases, Lapis Lazuli has seen extensive use among artists. This is due to the fact that Lapis's deep blue hue is a much desired color. Lapis Lazuli was hard to come across for many, but turning that fine stone into ultramarine is what made it even less accessible to most artists. Lapis Lazuli's meaning, in art, was purity or even holiness.
The process to turn Lapis Lazuli into the pigment known as ultramarine was extremely laborious and time-consuming. Thus, very few people had the money to afford it, though legend has it that a few artists even went into debt over their covetous nature when it came to ultramarine.
Since ultramarine cost an arm and a leg, any artist wanted to make sure they got their moneys worth out of it. Thus, projects and paintings that used it often involved holy figures, especially Mother Mary. Ultramarine's rarity persisted for centuries. Only when a synthetic alternative was found in the 1800s did it become readily available for any artist.
Ready for more art? If you are an artist, then you can probably guess this one, too. Cinnabarite is another stone used to create a pigment. This time, however, it's vermillion.
Unlike ultramarine, a synthetic vermillion was generally accessible to people. But, like ultramarine, natural vermillion was expensive and costly to make. Despite this, it did persist as a common red pigment for many artists.
Unfortunately, there was another reason as to why people really had to stop working with natural vermillion from cinnabarite. That was because working with it could result in mercury poisoning.
Diamonds have many uses. Since they are the hardest mineral, they are often used for industrial purposes. Luckily, a lot of these are obviously not nearly as gorgeous as those in rings. Still, a good industry-grade diamond can really cut stuff up.
There are other uses that people don't generally think of when they hear "diamond." They are often used as heat-sinks due to their high thermal conductivity. This same quality is a reason why diamonds are also used in certain audio devices, along with its rigid structure that can handle vibrations.
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