Gemstone Rings in History: Unveiling the Stories Behind Legendary Jewels

Throughout history, gemstone rings have been more than mere adornments; they have served as symbols of power, love, and mystery. The allure of coloured gemstone rings has captivated royals, celebrities, and ordinary people alike, each stone telling a unique story etched in time. From ancient civilizations to modern times, these precious jewels have adorned fingers and captured imaginations, leaving behind legends and legacies that continue to fascinate.

Ancient Civilizations and Their Gemstone Rings

In ancient Egypt, gemstone rings were not just decorative; they were believed to hold magical properties. Pharaohs and high-ranking officials wore rings adorned with lapis lazuli, turquoise, and carnelian, stones thought to provide protection and bring prosperity in the afterlife. The scarab beetle, often crafted into a ring with coloured gemstones, symbolized rebirth and regeneration.

Similarly, the Greeks and Romans placed immense value on coloured gemstone rings. The Greeks associated gemstones with their gods and used them for both decoration and spiritual purposes. For instance, the amethyst was believed to protect against intoxication. Romans, on the other hand, wore rings with carved gems known as intaglios, which often depicted gods, goddesses, and scenes from mythology, serving as personal amulets or seals for documents.

Medieval and Renaissance Eras: Power and Prestige

Moving into the medieval period, gemstone rings became symbols of authority and divine right. Kings and queens across Europe wore rings set with sapphires, rubies, and emeralds, believing these stones connected them to the heavens and secured their rule. One of the most famous coloured gemstone rings from this era is the Black Prince’s Ruby, which is actually a large red spinel. It has been set in the Imperial State Crown of England and has witnessed the coronations of many British monarchs.

During the Renaissance, the art of gem cutting advanced significantly, allowing for more intricate designs and the creation of stunning jewellery pieces. The Medici family, known for their patronage of the arts, possessed numerous rings adorned with coloured gemstones, reflecting their immense wealth and influence. These rings often featured innovative designs and showcased the wearer’s refined taste and status.

The Victorian Era: Sentimental and Symbolic

In the Victorian era, gemstone rings took on new meanings, often associated with love and mourning. Queen Victoria herself popularized the use of coloured gemstones in engagement rings. Her iconic engagement ring featured a serpent set with an emerald, symbolizing eternal love. The practice of using birthstones in rings also gained popularity, with each month’s gemstone believed to bring luck and protection to the wearer.

Victorian mourning rings, often set with black jet or garnet, were worn to commemorate lost loved ones. These rings were deeply personal, engraved with the name and dates of the deceased, and sometimes containing a lock of hair.

Modern Times: Glamour and Legacy

In the 20th century, coloured gemstone rings continued to be associated with glamour and prestige. Hollywood stars like Elizabeth Taylor and Grace Kelly were known for their exquisite gemstone rings, which became symbols of their larger-than-life personas. Taylor’s famous Krupp Diamond, later known as the Elizabeth Taylor Diamond, though not coloured, was complemented by her stunning collection of emerald and sapphire rings.

In recent years, the engagement ring of Kate Middleton, now Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, has brought renewed attention to coloured gemstone rings. Her sapphire ring, originally belonging to Princess Diana, symbolizes continuity and modern royal elegance.


The stories behind legendary gemstone rings are as diverse and captivating as the jewels themselves. From the protective amulets of ancient Egypt to the symbols of power in medieval Europe, and the sentimental tokens of the Victorian era to the modern icons of glamour, coloured gemstone rings have left an indelible mark on history. Each ring not only reflects the artistry and values of its time but also carries forward a legacy that continues to enchant and inspire. As we admire these beautiful pieces, we are reminded of the timeless allure and rich history embedded within each gemstone, connecting us to the past and the enduring human fascination with these magnificent jewels.