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Gemstones in medieval times

Coral jewelry pantone color of 2019
In ancient history, stones had many uses, including medical, cosmetic, fashion and a politic use. Gemstones played a big role in medieval history.

People often saw them as a symbol of power and wealth. Not only was it important in fashion, but it was a main object for political and status purposes, including their role in the shields of wealthy men. The beauty and rarity of certain precious stones made them ideal for this, even as a show of royal support.

Engraved gems in shields

Although is not very common to hear or see interpretations of this, in medieval times, the knights, warriors and entitled people wore shields made of gemstones. This very much represented the status of the owner, as well as engraved gems to differentiate themselves from others. The definite purpose of medieval shields, as the term suggests, was protecting or shielding warriors from all sorts of attacking weapons used during the Middle Ages, but these objects turned out to be useful as bludgeoning weapons too. With improvements in body armor a number of shields were also developed to complement them as a result.

People often decorated their clothes, books, shields, swords, armor with mysterious gemstones because allegedly they had supernatural powers. Rarely, some of the wealthiest men could use shields made of gold, but most of the shields at the time were made of wood or metal with a layer of flax, leather, copper or bronze to strengthen the object, alongside its gemstones. The shields had its own unique engraved gem, but mostly between important men. They used them as amulets and supposedly, it brought luck in war and in illness.


The most common precious stones used back then were the amethyst, quartz crystal, amber, ruby, jade, jasper, coral, lapis lazuli, sapphire, pearls, emerald and turquoise. According to the type of stone used, anyone knew how much power the owner had and from that, the respect was built.