• Antiques in Oxford

The language of stones

Superstition has attributed qualities and meaning to precious stones.

Victorians were fascinated by the language of gems.


Diamond: signified innocence, purity, enduring and eternal love and harmony in a marriage.


Emerald: ensured purity of thought, preserved chastity and was thought to guard against evil spirits. The stone said to crumble when its power couldn’t prevent transgression!


Ruby: A powerful stone, signifying contentment, love and devotion. Traditionally given after 40 years of marriage.


Sapphire: Calming and cooling


Garnet: (old word Vermeil) preserved health and helped wearers reject grief.


Opal: Considered unlucky by some at the beginning of the 19th Century. Found favour towards the end of the century


Pearl: Depending on the type of jewellery this meant vitality, beauty or innocence.


Turquoise: indicated the presence of poison or an illness when it changed colour(which it tends to do over time.


The initial letters of stones were used to spell out words or names

Eg a brooch of lapis lazuli, opal, vermeil (garnet) and emeralds signified ‘love’. This jewellery is called ‘acrostic’. The image below spells 'dearest'.





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