In 1762, the gem cutters and jewelers of the royal court of Russia made, what in today’s dollars would be, a $14 million mistake.
When the Great Imperial Crown was made for the coronation of Catherine the Great, the court jewelers believed they were topping over 5,000 diamonds and pearls with an enormous 398 carat ruby. But that was not the case. They were fooled by an imposter – spinel, a hard glassy mineral consisting mostly, of magnesium and aluminum oxides which fooled jewelers and royalty alike by its red color.
What was thought to be an extraordinary ruby turned out to be a great imposter.
That kind of mistake would not be made today mostly because of the technological advances in geology and gemology, some of which, have to do with light. With the advances in the use of lasers and polarized light filters, we have been able to look a lot closer at rocks and raw precious stones than ever before. This has revealed astounding things.
Scientists have cut raw stones into thin slices and passed polarized light through them making an astounding discovery. Under a microscope, some stones burst into magnificent patterns of a rainbow of color while others nearly disappear into blackness. Hence, the difference between isotropic material which always remains dark under cross polarized light and anisotropic material which allows light to pass through the crystal as it is rotated under crossed polars producing a wonderful lightshow.
The discovery of ancient tools for cutting polishing, and engraving stone proves how old the art of lapidary1 is. The artifacts demonstrate that lapidaries had conquered the challenges of sawing, chipping, drilling, polishing, and faceting before the time of Christ. The methods were undeveloped by today’s standards but the principals upon which this work was performed are still with us. The faceted gems of today are incredible optical performers. For instance, the translucency and transparency of the crystalline quartzes ranged from carnelian, sardonyx, agate, amethyst to rock crystal are marvelous to behold.2 However, the rudimentary artform of millennia past produced a much inferior looking stone.
An amazing fact is this: there are 12 foundations of the New Jerusalem, representing the 12 Apostles of Jesus Christ, adorned with 12 gemstones, one for each of the foundations (Revelation 21:19-20). Each of them is an anisotropic gemstone, each are colorfully translucent and transparent on the microscopic level. Isotropic stones are opaque under the same polarized light. The odds of this occurring somehow at random are 1 in 16,7153.
12 Foundations of New Jerusalem – All Anisotropic Stones
But how can that be? Laser light, polarized filters, and the technology to microscopically slice gemstones is 50 years old at best. The lapidaries at the time of the writing of the Book of Revelation (circa AD 96) had nowhere near the skill or technology necessary to have selected those 12 stones intelligently with their properties in mind. At 1/16715 an “at-random” selection process is not likely either.
We are left with only three possibilities:
- The stones depicted in Revelation were selected to adorn the foundations of the New Jerusalem purely on their aesthetic features apparent to the naked eye. This argument rests on the presumption that, though the skills of the lapidary were rudimentary, the stones selected still had aesthetic value that would have been apparent without the use of technology. The trouble with this idea is that the most amazingly brilliant gemstone was excluded – the diamond. It is isotropic and appears dark under polarized light. It is not likely that the diamond would be passed over in a selection process that focused on aesthetics.
- The stones depicted in Revelation were selected for their financial value at the time. Again, the missing gemstone puts a fly in this soup as well. The diamond has always been one of the most valuable of all the precious stones.
- God, and not the Apostle John or any other human agent, authored and inspired the Book of Revelation. It begins, after all, “the Revelation of Jesus Christ.” As the divinely inspired narrative plays out, God’s choice for representative gemstones comes with a pseudo-coincident fact that all 12 are anisotropic stones, a detail that no one back then could have known or planned for. But God knew about the microscopic luminous properties of the gems He selected and did so for a purpose.
Everything about the New Jerusalem is created to be accentuated by the light of God. In addition to the anisotropic gems selected to adorn the foundations, the 1,500-mile, foursquare city itself shines like a precious stone – its walls made of jasper, clear as crystal. (v 11, 16)
The streets and buildings are made of gold so pure they are transparent like glass (v 18, 21). Twelve gates, three on each side, are each made of a single pearl (v 21). A high-quality pearl would feature a bright clear luster shining in God’s light so that you could see yourself on its surface. The pearl is the only precious stone created organically, naturally. The oyster secretes a layer of aragonite and conchiolin creating a material called nacre, which encases an irritant that got inside the shell – the mollusk protecting itself. The pearl inside the shell was created because of pain.
There is no need of the sun or the moon as God is the Light of that city (v 23) and the kings and nations of the world walk in that light anywhere on the earth (v 24). Its gates are never closed because there is no night, the glory of God lightens it. (v 25)
It is not hard to see that the God of light is describing a future of light in a city which reacts with light even to the microscopic level. The New Jerusalem will be a site to behold!
“This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.” (1 John 1:5)
1Lapidary – (noun) a person who cuts, polishes, or engraves gems or (advective) relating to stone and gems and the work involved in engraving, cutting, or polishing them. (Oxford Languages on Google)
2Dr Gerald Wykoff, The History of Lapidary, website of the IGS, https://www.gemsociety.org/article/the-history-of-lapidary/ (retrieved 1/21/23)
3The probability of choosing 12 stones that are all anisotropic among 28 possible stones is (16 choose 12)/(28 choose 12) assuming every choice is equally likely.