Waco Gem and Mineral Club, Waco, Tx

Badge 13 Gemstone Lore and Legend


13. Gemstone Lore & Legend

Because they‘re so rare and beautiful, gemstones and precious metals have always fascinated people. We give them as gifts to mark special occasions, like a diamond ring for an engagement or a gold watch for retirement. And many cultures have invested gems with mystical, magical powers and legends. These units let you explore gemstone lore and legend, and to compare legend against what contemporary science says.

Activity 13.1: Anniversary Stones

A 25th anniversary is considered a silver anniversary and a 50th anniversary is golden. Construct a list of all the gemstones and precious metals used to mark anniversaries from 1 to 100.

Activity 13.2: Birthstones and the Zodiac

Each month is marked by its own "modern" or "traditional" birthstone or a 'zodiac' stone. List birthstones for all the months of the year and find out as much as you can about your own birthstone.

Activity 13.3: Fabled Gemstones

Some especially large and valuable gemstones have been lost, stolen, and/or vested with supernatural powers or curses. Pick a famous gemstone and explore its history and any legends associated with it.

Activity 13.4 Gems in Religion

Whether the religion is Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, or others, you‘re sure to find gemstones and precious metals mentioned in its holy books, including the Bible, Koran, Torah, etc. Pick a religious text and see what gemstones are mentioned and their significance.

Activity 13.5: Mysticism and Minerals

Many gemstone minerals have important scientific, economic, medical, nutritional, and artistic uses and value. In addition to valuing them for such practical uses, some people and cultures have assigned mystical or magical properties to certain minerals and gemstones. Pick a mineral or gemstone and explore what legend and lore says about its mystical uses and properties. Then compare that to what contemporary science says about the mineral.

A good general-purpose guidebook for your kids in exploring gemstone lore and legend is Emma Foa‘s Pockets Gemstones (DK Publishing: New York, NY, 2003). Part of the Dorling Kindersley Pockets Full of Knowledge series, this particular book has several advantages:

At $6.99, it‘s inexpensive and thus a good match for a child‘s budget.

It‘s written to a wide, general-purpose audience, so it‘s clear and easy to read, with information appearing in brief overview paragraphs and captions. Each two-page spread is a self-contained unit on a particular topic or gemstone.

It‘s heavily illustrated with beautiful color photos, each supported by surrounding text.

In addition to talking about gemstones as ornaments of beauty, it goes into other uses of gems, their formation and crystal structure, gemstone mining, and their appearance in myth and medicine.

It includes a section on famous and legendary gems.

It has a nice reference section talking about gem care and jewelry making, as well as a section on how gems are cut and polished.

It includes a glossary of terms and a table of the basic mineralogical properties of 53 gemstones.

It concludes with a list of resources, including major museums with gemstone collections and organizations such as the Gemological Institute of America, followed by a comprehensive index.

All this is contained in a small, compact book just 5-inches by 3-3/4-inches and 128 pages long that slips easily into a pocket.

For all these reasons, this handy little volume is highly recommended as a resource for all kids working on earning their Gemstone Lore & Legend badge.