Case of the Missing Stone

by cmoneyspinner

The research has been done! Are there any mystery writers in the house? A fantasy writer might find this information useful as well.

Good research is a key ingredient if you aspire to write a successful mystery novel. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle certainly knew that!

So? So the research has been done. The material is presented below and a suggested title is also provided: "Case of the Missing Stone".

All that's needed now is an intriguing and captivating mystery plot to wrap around it. This is an invitation to an aspiring novelist who wants to create and introduce to the world a brand new master sleuth, in the tradition of Sherlock Holmes, only better!

Use this information to develop the story line. Please!


"The idea that some gemstones are precious and others are only semi-precious is familiar to every buyer of colored stones. Precious stones -- diamond, ruby, sapphire and emerald -- traditionally command a premium price in the market due to their extraordinary color or brilliance and extreme rarity."

(Quote Source: "Precious and Semi Precious Stones: Myth and Reality." SETT Company Ltd. Web. 10 Aug. 2011.)


Fans of the late great actor and master of horror films, Vincent Price, no doubt will remember this movie without me even mentioning the name. In the movie, the detective had to solve a series of murders. It turns out, the detective found his clues in the Bible.

Devotees of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle no doubt noted that the great Sherlock Holmes had knowledge of certain biblical references which were sometimes key to him solving a mystery or a crime.

The Abominable Dr. Phibes
MGM (Video & DVD)
Only $8.0

With that in mind, in reviewing the biblical books of Exodus (Old Testament) and Revelation (New Testament), take note that several gemstones are mentioned; seventeen altogether. It is rather peculiar that of the four most precious stones - emerald, ruby, sapphire and diamond - one of the stones is not mentioned. Odd? Yes. But also sounds like the beginning of a terrific mystery!

What Did Sir Arthur Conan Doyle Know?

four precious stonesAs we all know, use of precious and/or semi-precious stones dates back to ancient times.

Archaeological digs (see below) have unearthed jewelry and/or artwork made of precious metals set with gems that date back thousands of years. They were:

  • highly prized for personal adornment;
  • given as gifts to royalty;
  • used as a form of currency in exchange for goods or merchandise; and
  • also used for religious and political purposes.

Figuratively speaking, precious stones are often expressed by means of a metaphor to convey beauty, durability, excellence, and value.


Image Credit: Four Precious Stones: (Clockwise) Emerald, Ruby, Sapphire and Diamond | Merriam-Webster Visual Dictionary Online

Gem of a Find!

Important! It's a clue!
  • On her first dig, at the Hellenistic port of Tel Dor, Megan Webb, a 28-year-old potter from Philadelphia, found a tiny gemstone etched with the portrait of Alexander the Great. Historians and archaeologists speculate that it might have been mounted on a signet ring.
    - Gem of a Find - Archaeology Magazine Archive


The Breastplate of Judgment

In the biblical Book of Exodus, twelve (12) precious stones comprise the breastplate of Aaron. Aaron was the elder brother of Moses and the first high priest of the Hebrew nation. As a priest he wore special clothing when serving at the altar; and part of that clothing was a breastplate.

The breastplate of judgment, as it was called, was made with 12 stones: agate, amethyst, beryl, carbuncle, diamond, emerald, jasper, ligure, onyx, sardius, sapphire, and topaz. The precious stones are listed alphabetically, however, each stone was placed in a certain position and taken together as a whole on the entire breastplate, the stones were referred to as "Urim and Thummin" (light and perfection).

The Indiana Jones films have everyone on a quest to find the Ark of the Covenant. But it seems the breastplate of a high priest would be a spectacularly marvelous find!

Hight Priest, with His Ephod and Breastplate, in the Holy Place
Hight Priest, with His Ephod and Breastplate, in the Holy Place

17 And thou shalt set in it settings of stones, even four rows of stones: the first row shall be a sardius, a topaz, and a carbuncle [ emerald ]: this shall be the first row.
18 And the second row shall be an emerald [ turquoise ], a sapphire, and a diamond.
19 And the third row a ligure [ jacinth ], an agate, and an amethyst.
20 And the fourth row a beryl, and an onyx, and a jasper: they shall be set in gold in their inclosings.


[Note: In some other reliable translations (or versions), the carbuncle is translated emerald; emerald is translated turquoise, and ligure is translated jacinth.]


Heavenly Jerusalem

In the Book of Revelation (New Testament scriptures), the foundations of the wall of the heavenly Jerusalem, i.e. "the city", are also garnished with twelve (12) stones.

Listed alphabetically, these stones are: amethyst, beryl, chalcedony, chrysolyte, chrysoprasus, emerald, jacinth, jasper, sapphire, sardius, sardonyx, and topaz.

19 And 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, chrysolyte; the eighth, beryl; the ninth, a topaz; the tenth, a chrysoprasus; the eleventh, a jacinth; the twelfth, an amethyst.


So What's the Mystery?

Seven (7) stones [ or eight (8) stones - depending on which translation of the Bible was used ] are included on both lists.

Since the King James Version of the Bible is thee correct translation (because I grew up reading it), my cursory review of Exodus versus Revelation indicates that there are seven (7) stones which garnish both the breastplate of judgment and the foundations of the wall of the heavenly city.

By contrast, where the breastplate has carbuncle, diamond, ligure, agate and onyx - the wall has chalcedony, sardonyx, chrysolyte, chrysoprasus, and jacinth.

So altogether there are seventeen (17) different stones.<

* * *

The research to prepare and publish this article was eye-opening, educational, captivating, intriguing, and in my mind, it's the beginning of a great mystery and suspense novel for an aspiring author.


- The mystery is:

Why is the ruby missing?

Why not give the novel the title:

"Case of the Missing Stone"?


Additional Information For Further Research

Intro Image Sacred Gems Squidoo LensMagical Gemstones and Mystical Crystals - Many believe gemstones and crystals such as amethyst and citrine, have a healing power.  Some can be used to treat mental health and restore clear thinking while others are believed to be able to stimulate psychic powers and repel lightning.  Psychic powers are just extra baggage.  It's difficult enough to take control of your own thoughts.  But being to repel lightning?  Now that would sure be handy!


Precious StonePrecious and Semi-Precious Stones: A Primer - The Bible is a Holy Book for many people, but it is also a great literary and reference work, loaded with wonderful imagery and information such as the names of precious stones like beryl, carbuncle, jacinth, ligure and more. 


Arthur Conan Doyle and Writing Mysteries
  • Arthur Conan Doyle"Arthur Conan Doyle was involved in two real-life mysteries, and his work resulted in the freeing of two men who had been wrongly convicted in unrelated cases ..."**
  • Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes very much influenced the Golden Age of Mystery.

**NOTE: Quote above was extracted from an article that appeared at YAHOO Voices but is now unpublished titled "10 Rare Facts About Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Author of the Original Sherlock Holmes Series". 

How Much Do You Know About Precious and Semi-Precious Stones?

Take the quiz

Updated: 12/26/2023, cmoneyspinner
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cmoneyspinner on 10/30/2013

@DerdriuMarriner - Back in my day Vincent Price was considered scary. Back in my day Lon Chaney playing the werewolf and Boris Karloff as Frankenstein used to scare me. (I think it was Boris.). For real. When I watched those movies, I wouldn't go the bathroom unless my big brother or sister went ahead of me and clicked the light on first. :) But these days old horror movies that I grew up watching versus the horror films made today, you would consider "The Abominable Dr. Phibes" more in the category of suspense and mystery. No way would it scare you. Thanks for stopping by.

DerdriuMarriner on 10/30/2013

cmoneyspinner, There certainly is much to be gleaned from the Bible, including the precious stones which are mentioned therein. Me too I agree that a high priest's breastplate would be quite a find!
I have not seen "The Abominable Dr. Phibes." Vincent Price knows how to be scary.

cmoneyspinner on 09/14/2013

@WriterArtist - Each stone represented one of the tribes of Israel. 12 tribes; 12 stones. Thanks for coming by!

WriterArtist on 09/14/2013

Certain stones drive away evil and protect you from harm, such is the belief since ancient days. In my country, there are many who would wear these stones in the ring. I am fascinated by the breastplate of Aaron who wore 12 gemstones. Some of these stones conflict each other and it is not advisable to have them together. Coming to the combination of 12, I am sure there is a great story behind the breastplate. If only, we knew......

cmoneyspinner on 09/12/2013

@ologsinquito - #12 and #7 Thanks for visiting! :)

ologsinquito on 09/12/2013

Very interesting. The number 12 has a lot of significance in Scripture.

cmoneyspinner on 08/16/2013

@frankbeswick - Thanks for commenting. It's additional research for the novelist who will be developing the plot. :)

frankbeswick on 08/16/2013

The date at which urim and thummim disappeared is unclear. The Babylonians would have taken them when they captured Jerusalem in 587 bc but later on the Bible they speak of not having a priest who can consult urim and thummim, so they may have been given back. They certainly disappeared when the Romans took Jerusalem, if the breastplate was still there.

cmoneyspinner on 08/16/2013

@Mira - Ah hah! Confusion to you perhaps. But to a master sleuth it would be a challenge!

Thanks for visiting. :)

Mira on 08/16/2013

But aren't there other stones missing from either Exodus and Revelation (depending on how you look at it), since only 7 or 8 are common to both lists? I'm confused :)

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