(Venice, Italy) Gemstones. Universal elements born on earth, cherished by humanity for millennia.
Some attribute mystical qualities to the dazzling stones. Some desire jewels for ornamentation. Others appreciate their monetary worth. Whatever the reason, the quest for gems has always been a part of mankind's adventures, conjuring up tales of exotic travels and enchanted encounters.
Gems of Venice, a unique boutique located in the heart of Venice, opens another chapter in the story.
Jade came from the holy mountains and was thought to be crystallized moonlight. The elite drank powered jade to achieve immortality, and used it as an aphrodisiac. Jade could make people invisible and allowed them to fly. Praised in literature, jade gave enlightened emperors the god-like power to control storms and floods.
Jade and trade were the ancient foundations of the Silk Road.
Silk is created from the fiber of the cocoon of the silkworm, and was first developed in China more than 5,500 years ago.
It is believed the first traveler on the Silk Road was King Mu, who reigned the Zhou Dynasty from 976 to 922 BC. Over the centuries, the Silk Road evolved into a massive East to West trade route, allowing an exchange of goods, art, literature, religion, music, dance, technology and knowledge between extremely diverse cultures.
Before the Silk Road, the Romans, who were familiar with cotton, believed that lustrous silk grew on trees, never imagining it was the product of a simple creature's marvelous metamorphosis from worm to wings.
Centuries later, Gems of Venice continues the tradition by transporting precious gems from the East to Venice.
For more than 30 years, Angela Cook, the British-born founder of the boutique, has traveled to exotic locales on her own quest for treasures to offer her clientele: gems and jewels from India, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Indonesia; antique jewelry, gold, silver and rugs from Pakistan; tribal Turkman jewelry from Afghanistan; Byzantium jewels from Turkey; turquoise from Nepal; amber from the Baltic Coast.
Angela even traveled the Spice Route through Yemen in search of antique coral from the Red Sea -- and learned that Marco Polo had been there, too, whisking the famous Mocha coffee bean back to Venice.
Angela often travels to India to enhance her inventory, again fortuitously following Marco Polo's footsteps.
Up until the early 18th century, for more than two thousand years, India was the only source of diamonds on earth.
Marco Polo passed through India on his return from China to Venice and visited Golconda, the center of the diamond trade. Not surprisingly, Venice soon became the capital of the early gem-trade in Europe, where diamonds were first cut, faceted and polished during the early 1300s. By the end of that century, rough diamonds originating in India arrived in Venice where they were transformed into glittering jewels, then made their way to markets in Amsterdam, Antwerp and Bruges.
|Antique amber from the ancient Amber Route|
With stars colliding to create gold on earth and volcanoes spewing up diamonds, the wondrous origins of gems add a divine element to their attraction.
Christ the Pantocrator in the center of the Pala d'Oro holds an open book studded with rubies and sapphires. The Greek word "Pantocrator" is used by the author of the Book of Revelations nine times to describe the Almighty, otherwise there is only one reference by Saint Paul in the entire New Testament.
According to Mons. Antonio Niero, author of La Pala d'Oro e il Tesoro di San Marco, "the use and arrangement of the gems and precious stones suggest that the 13th century restorers followed the 21st chapter of the Book of Revelations, which speaks of 12 precious stones when describing the new Jerusalem; some of the stones used in the pala are identical to those described in that chapter."
There is a school of thought which believes that rubies and sapphires are the most divine since they come from metamorphic rock, and could only have been created during catastrophic times when God judged the Earth.
Gems of Venice also finds inspiration in the ancient secrets of the Pala d'Oro, and follows the long Venetian tradition of seeking out exceptional gemstones from the far corners of the earth.
When you wear jewelery created by Gems of Venice, you are wearing a piece of the heart of Venice itself.
Calle del Scaleter
San Polo 1044
Tel: (39) 041.52 25 148
Mon-Sat: 9:00am to 7:30pm
Sunday: 10:30am to 2:00pm
3:30pm to 6:30pm
Vaporetto stop: Rialto, Rilato
Mercato, San Silvestro
Originally published on September 16, 2013 at 11:40CEST