Revelation 21:19-21And the foundations of the wall of the city were garnished with all manner of precious stones. The first foundation was jasper; the second, sapphire; the third, a chalcedony; the fourth, an emerald; 20 The fifth, sardonyx; the sixth, sardius; the seventh, chrysolite; the eighth, beryl; the ninth, a topaz; the tenth, a chrysoprasus; the eleventh, a jacinth; the twelfth, an amethyst.
21 And the twelve gates were twelve pearls; every several gate was of one pearl: and the street of the city was pure gold, as it were transparent glass.
Gems are mentioned throughout the Bible. In the last book of the Bible (Revelation 21:19-20) we read how the aging apostle John is told by the Angel of the Lord about a most beautiful city to be built in the New Heavens and the New Earth.
The Angel describes its foundations as ".... decorated with every kind of precious stone. The first foundation was jasper, the second sapphire, the third chalcedony, the fourth emerald, the fifth sardonyx, the sixth carnelian, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth chrysoprase, the eleventh jacinth, and the twelfth amethyst."
There certainly seems to be some relationship between the 12 foundation stones listed in the New Testament Revelation, and the 12 precious stones which covered the priests breastplate in the Old Testament.
Exodus 28:17-20 states the Lord told Moses to decorate the breastplate with " four rows of stones: the first row shall be a sardius, a topaz, and a carbuncle: And the second row shall be an emerald, a sapphire, and a diamond. And the third row a ligure, an agate, and an amethyst. And the fourth row a beryl, and an onyx, and a jasper: they shall be set in gold."
The Mosaic Priests jewels in turn seem to have some connection with the gems which adorned the one who became Lucifer (or Satan, or the devil) in the Garden of Eden. Ezekiel 28:13 tells us that when Satan was "in Eden the garden of God; every precious stone was thy covering, the sardius, topaz, and the diamond, the beryl, the onyx, and the jasper, the sapphire, the emerald, and the carbuncle, and gold:"
The Lords promises to Israel were also tied to gemstones He created. The Lord says in Isaiah 54:11 (KJV) "O thou afflicted, tossed with tempest, and not comforted, behold, I will lay thy stones with fair colors, and lay thy foundations with sapphires."
The origin of gem names also provides interest. Jacinth came from the word Yacinth which is from the Greek Uakinthos, from which we get the name for the blue Hyacinth flower-Jacinth today refers to red-blue zircon or to blue sapphire. The ancient Greek region of Chalcedonia was a source for a quartz variety which has been called Chalcedony.
Since 50AD gemologists have changed the names of only a few gems, i.e. Carnelian for Sardius, hence the list of gemstones in modern Bibles differ only slightly from the Greek New Testament or the 1611 King James Version. The English and Greek names are: Jasper (Iaspis), chalcedony (chalkedon), sardonyx (sardonix), carnelian (sardius), chrysolite(chrysolithos), chrysoprase (chrysoprases), amethyst (amethustos), sapphire (sappheiros), emerald (smaragdos), beryl (berullos), topaz (topazion), jacinth (uakinthos).
One intriguing fact about the gemstones in Revelation is that they belong exclusively to minerals that split light into 2 polarized beams; one at right angles to the other. This property is called anisotropy, and it produces a wonderful rainbow effect when viewed under a polarizing lens.
Another intriguing fact: of the 28 stones that are normally regarded as gemstones, only 16 are anisotropic. Since anisotropic behaviour has only been discovered in the last century, the odds of 12 stones picked randomly being in that one group, is 1 in 30 million (according to Woodward 1984).
What is more intriguing is the 4 anisotropic stones not included in the group, such as ruby we can use for the production of laser ray equipment. It may very well be that the Lord in choosing the stones for the foundation of the new temple, deliberately avoided stones that could act as lethal death rays and instead chose stones that disperse light to produce a brilliant rainbow effects. After all, we will be dwelling in the presence of His light forever.
Regardless of their history, such stones have much value in the eyes of men because of the great beauty God gave them at the time of creation. They are a constant reminder that the Lord God loves all things bright and beautiful, and so should we!