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(All quotations from the New King James translation unless stated otherwise).

Gemology is the science, art and profession of identifying and evaluating gemstones.

The High Priest’s breastplate:

Exodus 28:17 "And you shall put settings of stones in it, four rows of stones: The first row shall be a sardius, a topaz, and an emerald; this shall be the first row; 18 "the second row shall be a turquoise, a sapphire, and a diamond; 19 "the third row, a jacinth, an agate, and an amethyst; 20 "and the fourth row, a beryl, an onyx, and a jasper. They shall be set in gold settings.

The difficulty with applying the science, art and profession of identifying and evaluating gemstones lies in identification of the stones. The Hebrew names for the stones in the High Priest’s breastplate cannot be given modern equivalents with any degree of certainty. Each stone represented a tribe but whether each had colour or a meaning peculiar to the tribe we are not told. The general meaning is that indicated in Malachi of each tribe and each faithful individual in it being precious in the sight of God.

AV Malachi 3:17 And they shall be mine, saith the LORD of hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels; and I will spare them, as a man spareth his own son that serveth him.

Exodus 19:5 ‘Now therefore, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be a special treasure to Me above all people; for all the earth is Mine.

The High Priest carried the names of each tribe both next to his heart and on his shoulders when he entered the Most Holy on the Day of Atonement. This is a pattern of the great High Priest who entered heaven to make intercession and atonement for all his people.

Hebrews 4:14 Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15 For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

Those who believe and are baptised into Christ become his people and are represented as his bride. In Revelation the bride is depicted as a city descending from God with foundations adorned with precious stones.

Revelation 21:9 Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls filled with the seven last plagues came to me and talked with me, saying, "Come, I will show you the bride, the Lamb’s wife." 10 And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me the great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God,

Revelation 21:19 The foundations of the wall of the city were adorned with all kinds of precious stones: the first foundation was jasper, the second sapphire, the third chalcedony, the fourth emerald, 20 the fifth sardonyx, the sixth sardius, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth chrysoprase, the eleventh jacinth, and the twelfth amethyst.

The implication is that each person who makes up the bride is unique and valued in their own right as precious stones.

1 Peter 2:9 But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light;

Go here for an overview of the difficulties of identifying the stones:

Go here to read George F. Kunz's book The Curious Lore of Precious Stones (1913) Pages 289 to 306:

(Take the identification of the apostles with the stones with a large pinch of salt.)

In conclusion I doubt that Gemology at this time can have any meaningful relationship with the Bible. The proper meaning will doubtless be understood during the millennial reign of Christ.

If you want to come to grips with what the Bible really teaches, why not take the free online Bible study course available on our website, This course will give you a background in the major themes of the Bible from Genesis to Revelation. As with everything we offer, there is no cost to you other than your time and effort... You will also have a personal tutor to whom you may pose questions either from the course itself or those questions which come to you as you read the Bible.

I hope this helps.

Glenn Smith