Well before Pliny the Elder (first century C.E.) established his list of fine and precious stones in his Natural History, the civilizations of Mesopotamia, followed by that of ancient Egypt, were already using lapis lazuli in ornaments and amulets. Ribbon agate, rock crystal, and carnelian, as well as turquoise—a stone whose (re)discovery is a fascinating journey in itself—were also widely used in Antiquity.
With the Middle Ages and its taste for color came the renaissance of the glyptic art. The reuse of ornamental stones grew more widespread as their nuanced hues were used to bring color to cameos, intaglios, and even religious images and talismans.