April 2013 Newsletter: East Meets West & Elemental Gemstones
In ancient Chinese culture, the universe was divided into five elements. Each of the 5 elements encompassed its own unique energies that were capable of shaping the lives, events and processes for all things. The concept of the 5 elements incorporates the Chinese philosophy known as ‘qi’ or ‘chi’, but qi is limited to the energy of living things, whereas the elements of water, fire, wood, metal and earth can shape the both the living and the nonliving by way of elemental energy. They not only control the forces within the human body, but the entirety of the universe.
The Chinese believed in feng shui, which is an ancient method of balancing the natural world to create peace, harmony and prosperity. The balancing of the natural world requires the balancing of the 5 elements. The methodology of feng shui is also seen in the philosophy of yin and yang, but yin and yang focus primarily on opposite forces (elements), transcending one another to create a perpetual balance - hot and cold, fire and water, or man and woman for example. Feng shui does not always use opposite elements of energy to bestow balance, as yin and yang do.
Feng shui incorporates colors representing each of the 5 elements, for example, fire can be represented by red, yellow, orange, pink and purple objects (such as gemstones). Therefore, items of these colors are used together and placed in specific areas of one’s life in what is referred to as a ‘productive rotating cycle’. The ‘productive rotating cycle’, refers to the sequential ordering of the elements, almost as if the elements are flowing clockwise in nature - wood nurtures fire; fire nurtures earth; earth nurtures metal; metal nurtures water and water nurtures wood.
To this day, the practice of feng shui is still very active and it is not only practiced in Chinese households, but throughout countless homes across the world.
- Wood Gemstones (green, aqua, purple): Aquamarine, amethyst, tanzanite, iolite, tourmaline and sapphire.
- Fire Gemstones (red, yellow, orange): Imperial topaz, spinel, ruby, citrine, opal, amber and sphalerite.
- Earth Gemstones (yellow, brown, green): Sapphire, zircon, quartz, beryl, tiger’s eye and pietersite.
- Metal Gemstones (metallic, white, grey): Hematite, pyrite, cat’s eye, moonstone and sillimanite.
- Water Gemstones (black and blue): Melanite, spinel, lapis lazuli, aquamarine, topaz, chalcedony and tanzanite.
In many Western cultures, there are practitioners of a very similar concept to feng shui. Some call it astrology, but in truth, it is more than just astrology. The esotericism of Western culture means that it has a very broad spectrum, but just like the East, it focuses on the balancing of forces, as well as spirituality and one’s well-being (making it similar to Chinese feng shui philosophy).
Perhaps the ancient Chinese beliefs played a role in the formation of Western tradition. One thing we know is that the East and the West are yin and yang. They are opposite forces like transparent and opaque, but together they create balance.
Western tradition holds that all things in the universe can be divided into four elements: Fire, earth, water and wind. Each of the 4 elements encompasses an energy capable of shaping the universe, and just as the East has a productive cycle for balancing the elements, so does the West (fire and air; earth and water).
In astrology, each of the 12 zodiac signs is assigned one of the 4 elements, and just as in the East, each of the elements also has its own corresponding colors. For example, fire is represented by red, yellow and orange colors, while earth is represented by green, black, brown and grey objects (such as gemstones). If the energies of the universe flow well in your life and within your home, you will feel tranquility and balance in life.
- Wind Gemstones (white, gold, pink, blue): Sapphire, citrine, tourmaline, topaz, beryl, lapis lazuli and chrysoberyl.
- Water Gemstones (blue, green, aqua, teal): Topaz, aquamarine, turquoise, emerald, opal and coral.
- Earth Gemstones (black, green, brown): Malachite, obsidian, jasper, all jade (nephrite, omphacite, maw-sit-sit and jadeite).
- Fire Gemstones (red, yellow, orange): Imperial topaz, amber, fire opal, red spinel, red garnet and ruby.
Whether you come from the East or the West, and no matter which tradition you follow, it is enticingly captivating to learn about other cultures and traditional practices. In the gemstone and jewelry industry, these beliefs and traditions are a core aspect of our thriving industry and we witness this everyday in the colored gem trade through the trading of birthstones, healing stones and jewelry designs that encompass feng shui or other astrological elements.
Natural gems can occur in all of the elemental colors relating to both East and West, which makes them the perfect addition to your home or collection.
Red Tourmaline Addition for the Smithsonian:
A 14.24 carat red tourmaline from Nigeria will now permanently reside within the Smithsonian Museum of Washington. The stone was presented to the curator of the Smithsonian National Gem and Mineral Collection at the 2013 AGTA Gem Fair in Tucson, Arizona. The Smithsonian collection is one of the largest collections in the world, boasting over 350,000 minerals specimens and over 10,000 gems!
Silver Jewelry Sales on the Rise:
Silver has always been a popular choice for jewelers and designers, but the trends this year and last are heading toward an incredible incline. The lower costs compared to gold are attracting more and more buyers every day. In fact, it was reported that Tiffany and Co.’s CEO was not pleased with 2012 sales, which were greatly affected by the demand for lower priced silver jewelry. Colored gemstones are ideal for silver settings.
This month, GemSelect is pleased to showcase one of our rarer gemstones: A rare 7.13 carat imperial topaz from Brazil.
Imperial topaz is not only an elemental gemstone representing fire in both Eastern and Western spiritual beliefs, but it also happens to be the most valuable of all topaz varieties. Imperial topaz is typically never treated, and like all topaz, it has excellent hardness and durability making it one of the finest gems available.
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Happy Gem Hunting!
Your friends at GemSelect
- First Published: April-01-2013
- Last Updated: June-22-2017
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