Every culture has developed its own lore of rocks. From the stones of Aaron's breastplate to the foundational rocks of the New Jerusalem, from the creation tales of South America to the blood stones of Burma, gems have taken their place in the mythology and magic of the human race. Written for students and general readers, this book chronicles the fascinating background of gems. Each chapter covers a particular gemstone, such as diamonds, rubies, sapphires, and emeralds. It also covers organic gems, such as pearl, coral, and amber. The chapters discuss the natural history of the stone, including where the gem is found, its value, and its use; the role the gem has played in history, especially for certain famous stones such as the Hope Diamond; and the myths, powers, and legends that have attached to the stone over the centuries. Science students will appreciate the humanistic context the book offers for gemstones, while social studies students will appreciate its consideration of gems across times and places. Students of literature and the arts will welcome the book's attention to gems as symbols, and general readers will find it a fascinating guide to the lore and legend of precious stones.