G is for Gemstone

Greatness is defined by many people as the amount of zeros one accrues in life, set against an arbitrary standard of collectively agreed upon value. Yet, for most of us, no  amount of dollar signs is ever going to earn us the immortality which the lack thereof makes death so terrifying a prospect to begin with. For those of us without the money to have our names laser etched into the moon from Earth, the best we’ll be able to hope for is that some decades after our death our descendants will be able to recognize our image in the digital family photo album, before photographs and selfies disappear from history in favor of rapid DNA recognition and 4D printed images of individual growth. I mean, what are the odds that anyone is going to take the time and money to wrap your body up in gold, silver and an ocean’s worth of pearls to display you for all time above the family fire mantel? Things like that just don’t happen. Not these days, anyway.

Before the sixteenth century, blinging out the dead was all the rage. If you were a Catholic saint, anyway, you could expect the sort of glitzy funeral to rival Egyptian kings. For the price of dying horribly for the church and their faith, these Heavenly Bodies could take the wealth of the world with them, all the way to the grave. Or the tomb. Or the glass encased alter. Whichever way you chose to terrify the message of God into small children attending Mass for the next couple hundred years. In the catacombs of France and Germany, particularly macabre gemologists could fill The Jeweler’s Directory of Gemstones ten times over with all the glittering discoveries painstakingly wrapped around dead Catholic saints and martyrs.

Of course, much of what is left of this beautiful tradition is fake. Many of the originals gems were stolen or repossessed when the practice of bejeweling the dead was labeled blasphemous and obscene, and the bodies that were once chilling in an eternity of cold, hard capital were subsequently destroyed. Still, it may be worth something to drop a couple hundred dollars on costume jewelry on your death bed, just for the opportunity to confuse the hell out of some future archeologists. That is, if we don’t some day consider the art of dying itself to be too obscene to take part in.

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26 thoughts on “G is for Gemstone

  1. So my topic today, chosen by readers a month ago,is “Gem Sluicing”. This makes a good companion piece, can I link to it on my post?

  2. Pingback: G is for Gem Sluicing | Not A Punk Rocker

  3. Seems like there has to be a better way to ensure immortality…I’m busily writing up my personal history and I wonder at times, why? Who is ever going to care to read this? One would hope children, grandchildren etc, would have an interest, but no guarantees! Interesting path to take with the title of Gemstones!

    • My mother has a giant trunk of photographs from when her grandmother was a child. When I was young, sometimes she went through them with me. These were photos from the dawn of photography, when they were a big thing to the photographers and the people in the pictures. No doubt they thought that each photograph would ensure them an immortal place in the family history. It is true that their faces live on, but their memories are vaporous. I didn’t know how any of them are. My mother barely knew who any of them were. We only had faded names and dated to help us.

      What I’m getting at is, within the space of five generations, these people preserving their images in cutting edge technology were forgotten by their own descendants. I’m not sure that immortality exists in any form.

    • Glad you liked it! If I had gemstones, I wouldn’t know what to do with them. I’d probably be so stoked I’d have them out on display for anyone to see (or take).

    • I don’t have much use for gems alive or dead, but I’m not much of a fancy person. I’m more of a “hair in a scrunchy, and pajama pants, if there’s any pants at all” sort of person. 😛

      • My grandmother gave me some of her really old jewelry once, and I was queen of the world while I owned it. That’s as much jewelry as I’ve ever had. Sometimes a necklace if I’m feeling super fancy. 😛

      • I prefer earrings and bracelets myself. Too bad it’s too cold for bracelets right now. I only put one a necklace when I feel the need for extra bling.

      • I only have one ear pierced. On of my piercings got infected during karate class and I had to take it out. The hole filled over and since I never wanted the damn things anyway, I just never got them redone.

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