Romancing the Stones
by Tony Ellis
The science of Vedic astrology, or Jyotish as it is known in Sanskrit, uses high quality natural gemstones for remedial purposes in order to increase fortune, improve health and generally protect the wearer from harm. Gemstones are prescribed using a person’s birth chart (prasna), which is calculated according to very precise time, date, and place of birth, and can strengthen a planet that is weak or protect the wearer from negative planetary influences. They can also be recommended according to different time periods in a person’s chart called dasas. Each planet has a corresponding gemstone (ratna); for example, emeralds are for Mercury and diamonds for Venus. There are also secondary stones (uparatnas) that can be substituted when a person’s budget will not allow a more expensive primary gemstone.
In the following interview Tony Ellis talks to Jay Boyle, founder and president of The Jay Boyle Company, one of America’s leading suppliers of high quality gemstones for astrological purposes, about his experience in the business and some of the most common misconceptions about prescribing gemstones.
Jay Boyle is a graduate of the Gemological Institute of America, in residence. In addition to his expertise with Jyotish quality gemstones, he is one of the nation’s primary experts in colored gemstones and is frequently quoted in trade journals. He is also senior gemstone buyer for Jewelry Television, responsible for purchasing tens of millions of dollars of loose gemstones per year. In almost thirty years in the business, he has circled the globe many times seeking the gemstones at their source. In his quest for the best stones, he has sometimes entered the world of Indiana Jones, having guns pointed at him in the remote Mogok valley of Burma and facing hair raising helicopter rides with heavily armed Colombian emerald dealers. Although a passionate believer in the remedial power of gemstones, he began life in the business as a complete skeptic. In 1983, a perfect eight-carat oval-cut white sapphire changed his mind. Within minutes of taking possession of it, he closed a lucrative gem deal that was much needed for his nascent gemstone business. In addition to his white sapphire, he now wears a beautiful three-carat emerald and two fine diamonds.
TE: What do you consider to be the most important factors when selecting a gem for Jyotish purposes?
JB: If a gemstone is to be prescribed for Jyotish purposes, then it has to be of very high quality. Finding a suitable stone without the benefit of an expert is difficult. The vast majority of gems sold at gem shows or in jewelry stores are not of Jyotish quality. Even in the tiny subset of Jyotish quality gemstones, only a handful will be superb enough to give the right results. So I would always recommend working with an experienced gemstone dealer, someone with a good reputation and a great deal of knowledge about the gem business and Jyotish purposes in particular. This creates a series of filters and only the good stones will get through. I like to refer to these as sattvic, a Sanskrit term which means pure and good.
Then it is just a matter of selecting which stone fits your budget, whether it is a two-carat or a three-carat, or one of the maha (great) yellow sapphires of ten carats or more; and your mind is at rest knowing that you are dealing with someone who knows what he is doing and who has your best interests at heart.
TE: Given equality of size, quality and color, are all gemstones equal?
JB: No, they are not. It is difficult to appreciate the huge variety of gemstones available. Take rubies, for example. There are rubies that sell at the source for twenty-five cents a carat. Then there are rubies that sell for $2 per carat, $10 per carat, $100 per carat, $1,000 per carat, $5,000 per carat, and up to $100,000 a carat. The most expensive ruby ever sold went at auction for $425,000 a carat! It was a flawless untreated eight-carat ruby, the best color available. Between that quality of $425,000 a carat and the ten cents a carat, there are nearly an infinite number of qualities and grades. This is why it is so difficult to select out of these thousands and thousands of different stones, one that will give you the best results.
TE: So once an astrologer, having done the chart and having identified the gemstones needed, sends his client to a qualified gem dealer, what are the ways the customer himself decides which gem is the right one for them?
JB: One way is to let your supplier decide for you. But if you want to choose yourself, then you should always follow your heart--shut your mind off, trust your heart, and go with the one that feels best to you. You don’t have to intellectually understand why. Go with the one you love the most. No one should use a gemstone for Jyotish purposes that does not attract them, that does not generate a flow from the heart. Part of the relationship between you and the gemstone is loving the gemstone, and that love coming back to you. A stone that is not attractive and not easy to love is not the right gemstone for you. Take the one you love the most and that will be the right choice. Having gone to a proper source of gems, if you follow this principle, then you can’t go wrong.
TE: What about these formulas for testing gemstones like taping it to your finger or putting it under your pillow?
JB: Yes, these are effective. I think the most important thing is to line up your intention with the universe and ask for a sign that this is the right gemstone for you. Tape it to your finger and see what happens in the first two hours. You don’t have to look for some flashy experience. These things rarely happen to any of us. But if you understand the predicted results of the gemstone, such as improving your income, and after you tape it to your finger you get a phone call out of the blue from someone wanting to repay an old debt, obviously it’s a good sign. So you have a subtle awareness of the desired result, and then see what happens. In my experience, over half the time people don’t notice anything definite. That’s OK. You can’t have subtle experiences on demand. But if you have selected a gem properly and there is this feeling of love and appreciation between you and the gem, then that is the best sign. Many people say they cannot stop looking at their gem or they see a lot of light coming out of it.
TE: Do you have instances of people who had a very clear sign that this was the right gem?
JB: I remember one lady, from Arizona, who bought a six-carat yellow sapphire and within a couple of days of wearing the new gemstone found a buyer for a property that she and her husband had been trying to sell unsuccessfully for twenty two years (see chart). In all that time, they had never received an offer. Yet in just two hours after she put on the new ring, they received three cash offers and ended up getting $45,000 more than their asking price. With some of the profits she bought a three-carat ruby and a thirteen-carat piece of red coral. Now has so much energy that she has to take off the red coral from time to time so she can take a rest; otherwise she would keep on going and never stop.
It is also possible to get good results, but the results come in such a subtle way that we don’t notice the difference. One of my favorite stories to illustrate this point involves a businessman from Los Angeles. He called me just as he was about to go bankrupt for the second time. He said he couldn’t ever seem to make his business work. An astrologer had told him that his business would turn around if he got a large yellow sapphire. He wasn’t sure he believed it. I told him wearing emeralds had helped me enormously in my business and he decided to take the plunge. He didn’t have any money so he put it on a credit card. Normally I don’t recommend buying a gem unless you can afford it, but in this case he went ahead and we made him a ring with a six-carat stone.
I didn’t hear from him again for a long time. He called five years later saying he wanted to sell the yellow sapphire. Apparently he couldn’t tell if it was working or not and saw no use in wearing it anymore. So I asked him how his business was going. Turns out his business was doing great! He was making $250-300,000 a year and starting a second business that was about to make him tens of millions of dollars. His life had turned around in a dramatic fashion, but he had forgotten the predicted results and so hadn’t given any credit to the stone. When I pointed this out, he decided to keep the yellow sapphire.
TE: Many people who receive a gemstone prescription worry that if they don’t buy the gemstone, then something bad will happen to them. Or they feel pressurized to buy an expensive gemstone that they cannot afford. What do you say to them?
JB: No one should ever feel pressured to buy a gemstone. I believe that properly prescribed gemstones are gifts from the Divine to mankind that can alleviate suffering, improve ones life, and bring one closer to the Divine. But I also understand healthy skepticism. First a person has to want to explore this way to enhance their life. If they are willing to try it, a dealer can usually find a gemstone that will fit their budget and will give them sufficient power to experience the predicted results. But it is important to have your birth chart read by a fully qualified Vedic astrologer so that you know that the reading and gemstone prescription is correct.
TE: What is the formula for assessing price versus size when it comes to recommending gems according to a person’s budget.
JB: Budgets vary enormously from a few hundred dollars to several thousand, and yet everyone needs equal amounts of help. The same kind of Jupiter energy available in a high quality unheated yellow sapphire can be purchased for a great deal less, but not quite so powerful, in one of the uparatna stones: a yellow topaz, a yellow beryl or a yellow citrine. The power of Jupiter is not as strong on a per carat basis, so each of these options would have to be progressively larger to get the desired results. Whatever budget you have, you should try to get the most powerful gemstone possible within it.
There is also a unique element of fate concerning how much a person believes in the process, and which determines how much they are willing to spend on a gemstone. Some people have complete faith and it is very easy to find something for them. Others are very skeptical. One approach is to start with an inexpensive gem or an uparatna; then, when good results are felt, upgrade to a better stone to get a more powerful effect.
TE: In what circumstance are uparatnas effective? Is it purely related to the cheaper price?
JB: No it isn’t really related to price. It’s to do with the proper energy and sattwa of the stone. It doesn’t matter whether it is a Columbian emerald, a Brazilian emerald, a Zambian emerald, a green tourmaline, or a peridot; if I there is sufficient Mercury energy then the stone can be effective. This energy can be found in different gemstones at different levels of power and at different dollar amounts.
TE: In your experience are there any circumstances where gems are not necessary?
JB: Yes. There are times an astrologer will look at a look at a person’s chart and say, “You know, really, you don’t have to wear anything.” But in most cases, people can get good results from wearing one or more gemstones. It is completely related to the strengths and weakness of a person’s chart. As I said, the highest use of gemstones is to alleviate suffering and bring us closer to the Divine. If they are purchased with that in mind, with the proper astrological or Ayurvedic prescription, and if it is the right quality gems, then anyone can have very good results. [Note: The use of astrological gemstones for remedial health purposes is a part of Ayurveda, the ancient Indian natural health care system].
TE: In your opinion what are the most common misconceptions about prescribing Jyotish gemstones?
JB: I think the most important one has to be choosing size over quality. It is fairly common practice to recommend a minimum of two carats or more to have an effect. This has led many people, especially those with limited budgets, to favor larger size rather than better quality when selecting a gemstone. In order to get the magic number of two (or even four, five carats), they go for inferior quality stones. I believe this is a huge mistake. Experience has convinced me that the importance of high quality far outweighs that of size; and that increased size only matters if all other factors of quality, color and clarity are equal.
Generally speaking, it is true that smaller gems are not so effective. A smaller gem once it reaches two carats begins to have the power necessary to create a good effect. However, there are instances where this does not apply, just as a particular rule of astrology will have exceptions. In particular, there are two types of gemstones that are much more powerful on a carat per carat basis. These are a high quality diamond that is near colorless or colorless and VS1 (an industry standard) or better in clarity, and a high quality ruby of fine color and clarity. In these two cases, one carat to one and a quarter carat is easily enough to strengthen their respective planets (Venus and Sun). These gems give results equivalent to three or four carat size in other types of stone. Almost no one needs a two-carat diamond or ruby, if the stones are of sufficiently high quality.
TE: Would you recommend the use of synthetic or heat-treated gemstones?
JB: Personally, I don’t recommend synthetic gemstones at all. Natural gemstones, without treatments or enhancements and as flawless as possible, are the most effective. There are certain gemstones where it is absolutely critical to be free from treatments or enhancements. In other cases, it is almost impossible to avoid some kind of treatment. Blue sapphires, in particular, should never be heat-treated. Saturn is a cool planet, and doesn’t take heat well. In the Garuda Purana, a Vedic scripture that deals with astrological use of gemstones, it talks about heat treatment for blue sapphires being very bad for the wearer.
On the other hand, heat-treating a ruby doesn’t seem to spoil the effect at all. The Sun is a hot planet and so heat is compatible with its nature. Virtually all rubies of good quality and clarity in the world today have been heat-treated. I would say less than one tenth of one per cent of rubies of one carat or larger and of good quality and clarity are free of heat treatment. It is done to enhance the clarity but it doesn’t seem to spoil the effect. Occasionally, you can find rubies that are not heat-treated, but it is very rare. My son, for example, wears a heat-treated ruby with excellent results.
The other exception is emeralds. All emeralds are treated with some type of oil or resin to help stabilize the gem, fill the cracks and diminish visibility of the flaws. It’s virtually impossible to find emeralds that have not been treated in this way. Again, it doesn’t seem to spoil the effect. Mercury is a changeable planet, both moveable and fickle, and that is just the way emeralds are. Mother Nature made them with inclusions, flaws and fissures. Their green color comes from a chromium molecule replacing an iron molecule. There is not enough space in the crystal lattice for this chromium molecule so it creates these fissures at the molecular level that go all the way to the macro level. They are soaked in oil to lessen the visibility of those flaws or inclusions. It’s traditionally done as soon as they are mined and after they are cut. It’s best to look for emeralds that are nearly flawless or with the absolute minimum of inclusions or cracks; then the oil will have the least effect. If there are no cracks at all then the oil will have no effect whatsoever. It is the clarity and flawlessness of emeralds that is most important, not whether they are treated or not.
TE: How important is it to follow the correct procedures in terms of the metals that the gems are set in, the day that you start wearing it, cleaning the stone before you put it on, etc?
JB: All of these things are valuable. If an astrologer has prescribed a particular muhurta (auspicious time) to start wearing a stone, then it is good to follow that advice. But I believe by far the most effect—I would say at least 95 to 98 per cent—comes from the purity, quality and color of the gemstone.
TE: When you are selecting gems to buy, what process do you go though to make your selection?
JB: There are standard procedures used by all gemologists: magnification for clarity, comparison of color, proper proportions of the cut, etc. But I think all experienced gemologists also develop a refined sense of intuition. I noticed early on in my career that certain gems stood out more than others and I responded to them in a completely different way. It was as if I could actually “taste” the nature of the gem. Not on my lips or on the tongue—the normal organs of taste—but in my abdomen. This probably doesn’t make sense when I describe it, but for me it is very clear and concrete. I will look at certain gems and feel this “sweetness” in my gut. This sense of sweetness is what I use to judge the level of sattva in the gemstone. Some gems have it far more than others; others don’t have it at all. Lower quality gems are completely devoid of it. Initially I noticed that the gems with more “sweetness” sold the fastest. Later, I found that these were also the ones that worked best for jyotish purposes. Out of thousands of gemstones, only one or two will meet these criteria.
TE: In the absence of a qualified gem dealer are there any guidelines of how to select gemstones?
For the past two years I’ve been working with Vedic astrologer, Andrew Fosse, for a way to determine which gems produce the best results based on the key factors of color, quality, size and origin. The results are being analyzed at the moment. Initial reports are very encouraging, including for the use of uparatnas. We hope one day to be able to develop some comprehensive guidelines that everyone can use.
TE: You often purchase gems directly from the source. In your opinion what are the best sources for the primary gemstones?
JB: There are certain parts of the world that are known to produce the highest quality for both non-Jyotish and Jyotish purposes. For untreated yellow sapphires, it is Sri Lanka. For untreated blue sapphires it is Sri Lanka or Madagascar or (very rarely these days) Burma. For rubies, the Mogok region in Burma is undoubtedly the best for clear red stones. Madagascar is a second source, and also Sri Lanka, but these are far more pink and purplish in nature. Colombian emeralds seem to produce the best results. They have a certain glow to them. Some emeralds coming out from Brazil now have extremely high clarity and are very sattvic in nature. Occasionally Zambia produces some good emeralds. The best sources for coral are Mediterranean and the Sea of Japan. It is getting increasingly difficult to find Mediterranean coral in large sizes but we still have a good supply of that.
In the case of diamonds, most dealers buy after they are cut and certified. GIA (Gemological Institute of America) certified of high color and clarity and with good proportions are preferable. Natural pearl is wonderful but next to impossible to find these days. Over the last fifteen years a type of cultured pearl from China called tissue nucleated pearl has become available. They are created using a process that closely mimics Nature. They should be of extreme roundness and high luster with no blemishes. Sri Lanka is the best source for hessonite for Rahu and cat’s eye for Ketu. [Note: While not actual planets, Rahu and Ketu are two important additional influences used to calculate a birth chart in Vedic astrology]. Sri Lanka is also the primary source for white sapphire, which is the best uparatna for diamonds.
TE: After thirty years in the business, what have you learned?
JB: As I said, I went from a total skeptic to complete believer in the benefits, of Jyotish gemstones. I’m no scientist, so I can’t pretend to fully explain how it all works, but I believe it is to do with the different frequencies of light generated by these high quality crystals.
According to quantum physics our bodies are not what they appear to be. Rather than being flesh and bone and tissue, they are, in fact, a complex interweaving of different quanta of light, which makes up the different levels of our bodies—physical, mental, psychic and karmic. A properly selected, pure quality Jyotish gemstone has a certain frequency of vibrating light in a very powerful format. When it is worn close to the body, this somehow effects the frequency of the overall quantum mechanical body, rather like the tuning fork that, when struck, causes the strings of a guitar on the other side of the room to resonate in harmony.
These relatively small crystals that were formed deep within the earth, millions of years ago, by seemingly complete flukes of Mother Nature, have this living divine energy within them that can dramatically change a person’s life. Imagine a chart that has a weak Jupiter either by placement or aspect. Now imagine that you could wave a magic wand and suddenly that planet could be turned into a strong benefic influence. That is the power of a Jyotish gemstone. How it is prescribed, the rules, the exceptions to the rules, etc. is something that I have not studied because I have devoted my life to gemstones rather than astrology. But I do know that when properly prescribed and selected they can produce amazing results. The experience of thousands of customers over the years has taught me that.
Jay Boyle can be reached via his website www.AstrologicalGem.com.
Tony Ellis, a Fairfield-based writer and poet, has spent over thirty years as a student of Vedic Science.