God has also used all three in His story of history from the Creation in Genesis to the new Creation in Revelation. All play significant roles: The Lamb of God, the Fruit of the Tree of Life and the stone tablets of the Ten Commandments to name a few. He used precious stones on the breastplate of the high priest to symbolize the 12 Tribes of Israel (Exodus 39:8-14 - NIV) and again (essentially the same gems) as ornate coverings for the foundations of the New Jerusalem in the Book of Revelation.
Revelation 21:19-20 (NIV) - The foundations of the city walls were decorated with every kind of precious stone. The first foundation was jasper, the second sapphire, the third chalcedony (agate NLT), the fourth emerald, the fifth sardonyx (onyx NLT), the sixth carnelian (sardius NKJV), the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth chrysoprase, the eleventh jacinth, and the twelfth amethyst.
Again God is representing the 12 Tribes of Israel, but also His 12 Apostles, as part of the foundation of His Glorious City that He has prepared for His Bride (Revelation 19:7 - NIV).
A gem, gemstone or jewel is a piece of mineral which, in its cut and polished form, is used to make jewelry or other adornments. The traditional classification begins with a distinction between precious and semi-precious stones. The precious stones are generally considered to be diamond, ruby, sapphire and emerald, with all other gemstones being semi-precious. This distinction reflects the rarity of the respective precious stones in ancient times, as well as their quality: all are translucent with fine color in their purest forms, except for the colorless diamond, and very hard.
A few gemstones are used directly in the form in which they are found. Most however, are cut and polished. The two main designations are stones cut with facets (small flat polished windows) at regular intervals and exact angles or stones which are cut as smooth, dome shaped stones called cabochons (a gemstone which has been shaped and polished). Stones which are opaque (generally the semi-precious stones) are commonly cut as cabochons. These gems are designed to show the stone's color or surface properties as in opals and star sapphires. Grinding wheels and polishing agents are used to grind, shape and polish the smooth shape of the stones.
God also shapes us by the trials we endure: James 1:2-4 (NLT) - Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. 3For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. 4So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.
A Gem cannot be Polished without Friction,
Nor a Man Perfected without Trials.
Nor a Man Perfected without Trials.
Gems which are transparent are normally faceted, which best shows the optical properties of the stone's interior by maximizing reflected light and making the stones sparkle. Faceted stones are cut into one of many commonly used shapes. The facets must be cut at the proper angles, depending on the optical properties of the gem. If the angles are too steep or too shallow, the light will pass through the stone and not be reflected back to illuminate the facets.
The "four Cs" (color, cut, clarity and carats), generally used to grade a diamond, can be useful in understanding the grading of all gemstones. In gemstones that have color, it is the purity and beauty of that color that is the primary determinant of quality. Cut relates to the esthetic shape of the polished stone. Clarity relates to translucence but also to inclusions or unusual optical phenomena within the stone such as color zoning (the uneven distribution of coloring within a gem), and asteria (star effects). Finally, carat is the size of the finished gem.
Here is a brief description of each mineral listed in Revelation.
- Jasper - is an opaque, impure variety of Silica (SiO2), usually red, yellow, brown or green in color.
- Sapphire - is a variety of Corundum, an Aluminium Oxide (Al2O3). Trace amounts of other elements give it a blue, yellow, pink, purple, orange or greenish color.
- Chalcedony (Agate) - is a microcrystalline variety of Silica characterized by its fineness of grain and brightness of color.
- Emerald - is a variety of the mineral Beryl (Be3Al2(SiO3)6) colored green by trace amounts of Chromium and sometimes Vanadium.
- Sardonyx (Onyx) - is a banded variety of Chalcedony. The colors of its bands can be almost every color.
- Sardius (Carnelian) - is a brownish-red mineral variety of Chalcedony colored by impurities of Iron Oxide.
- Chrysolite (Chrysoberyl) - is an Aluminate of Beryllium with the formula BeAl2O4.
- Beryl - is a Beryllium Aluminium Cyclosilicate with the chemical formula Be3Al2(SiO3)6.
- Topaz - is a silicate mineral of Aluminium and Fluorine with the chemical formula Al2SiO4(F,OH)2.
- Chrysoprase - is a variety of Chalcedony that contains small quantities of Nickel. Its color is normally apple-green.
- Jacinth - is a red transparent variety of Zircon (ZrSiO4).
- Amethyst - is a violet variety of Quartz (SiO4).
Isaiah 54:11-12 (NLT) - "O storm-battered city, troubled and desolate! I will rebuild you with precious jewels and make your foundations from lapis lazuli. 12I will make your towers of sparkling rubies, your gates of shining gems, and your walls of precious stones."