A gemstone, or gem, is a type of material that is capable of being cut and polished for use in jewelry or other ornamental applications. Gems are most commonly made of minerals. Minerals are naturally occurring, inorganic, crystalline solids, of definite chemical composition. Examples are quartz and sapphire. However, certain rocks (such as lapis lazuli and opal) and occasionally organic materials that are not minerals (such as amber and pearl) are also used for jewelry and are therefore often considered to be gemstones as well. Diamonds, rubies, sapphires, and emeralds are classified as precious stones, and others, such as pearl, black onyx, opal, blue topaz, and moonstone, are called semi-precious stones. Interestingly, no difference exists between the two, rather this is a marketing classification invented years ago to give a false sense of value to the former.

Lapidary Arts and the Islamic Tradition

Humankind has always been drawn to the beauty gemstones radiate. They were known and used in the Indus Valley, and by the Ancient Egyptians, Mesopotamians, Greeks, and Romans—especially by the elites. The use of ornamental stones for jewelry through engraving, cutting, and polishing stones and gems, also called lapidary arts, is older than the use of metal.

Plenty of precious and semiprecious stones were already in use in regions that would later on become part of Islamic empires, such as India. Stones were strung into necklaces or bracelets, and used as turban festoons or sealstones. Following the Prophetic sunnah, they were often used in rings. The same stones were repeatedly recut and reused throughout centuries. Some of these can be found in the Imperial Treasury in Istanbul’s Topkapı Palace and the National Treasure in the National Museum of Iran. Examples of stones that were already distinguished early on are agate, diamond, ruby, topaz, sapphire, pearl, coral, jasper, hematite, rock crystal, and emerald.

Harun al-Rashid, the fifth Abbasid Caliph who ruled during the late 8th century CE, had a weak spot for precious stones and was a notable connoisseur. He is said to have sent the jeweler al-Sabbah, who happens to be the grandfather of the great scientist al-Kindi, to Ceylon to buy precious stones for him.

Mineralogy and Gemology and the Islamic Tradition

Writings on gemstones were translated into Arabic from the 6th to the 8th century CE. During the fourth and fifth centuries after the Hijra (10th-11th century CE), research on gems by Muslim scholars truly flourished. A significant part of what was written by Muslim scientists has been lost, although some works have survived in the form of monographs and entries in encyclopedic works. Examples of scholars exploring this field are Yuhanna ibn Masawaih (died 857 CE), Abu Yusuf Yaʻqub ibn Ishaq al-Sabbah al-Kindi (died 873 CE), Abu Muhammad al-Hasan al-Hamdani (died 945 CE), and Ikhwan al-Safa (9th-10th century CE).

These scholars used almost the same physical properties to identify and differentiate gemstones that are known to us today, such as colour, lustre, hardness, and crystal habit. Taking the lead in this regard was Abu Rayhan Muhammad ibn Ahmad al-Biruni (died 1048 CE), who wrote his major contribution, Treatises on How To Recognise Gems (الجماهر في معرفة الجواهر), between 1041 and 1049 CE.

al-Biruni uses color dimensions as a way to identify minerals and gemstones, giving a detailed description of the color of many of them. From slight color differences and different degrees of purity between minerals originating from different mines, he distinguishes how this might affect their financial value. He describes the following principal precious stones (الجواهر) and minerals: ياقوت (hyacinth, sapphire), ياقوت أحمر (ruby), ياقوت أخضر (green corundum), ياقوت جَمرْي (carbuncle), لَعْل (spinel), بيجادي (garnet), ألماس (diamond), سنباذج (emery), لؤلؤ (pearl), زُمُرُد (emerald), فيروزَج (turquoise), عقيق (agate), جَزْع (onyx), بَلّور (rock crystal), جَمَشْت (amethyst), لازوَرد (lapis lazuli), دَهَنْج (malachite), يَشْم (jade), يَشْب (jasper), سَبَج (obsidian), بادْزَهْر (bezoar), كَهْرُبا (amber), مغناطيس (magnetite), الشَادَنَج (hematite), زجاج (glass), مينا (enamel), and قيسَع صيني (porcelain).

Gems and Medicine

Drugs of mineral origin, especially gems, are known to be extensively used in the Unani Medicine tradition, both as single drugs and as compound formulations. Ibn Sina (981-1037 CE) has made a leading contribution to the fields of geology and mineralogy in his famous encyclopaedia of philosophy and natural sciences, The Book of Healing (كتاب الشفاء). In Part 2, Section 5, one finds the Article on Mineralogy and Meteorology, in which he describes healing properties of minerals and plants.


The Beginning

It happened a number of years ago. Taking a moment of contemplation, we realized how crucial our prayer beads had been to calm our tired hearts. They had brought us tranquility and presence of mind. Most importantly, they helped us get that Connection we needed throughout the chaos of everyday life. We wanted others to experience this too. We knew we had found our calling: to design and craft tasbihs.


Our Quest

We embarked on a quest to meticulously study the designs and uses of the tasbih in the Islamic tradition. We soon discovered that the making of tasbihs is a quickly vanishing artform that needs to be preserved. Through endless phases of trial and error, supported by the outstanding expertise of master crafters and designers, we have become specialists in hand-picking durable raw material and turning into beautiful, high-quality prayer beads that last a lifetime. Through skill, focus, precision, and an eye for detail and the aesthetically pleasing, our team produces tasbihs that can help you to remember what’s important. You can take our word for it. We speak from experience.

Your Journey

Your journey is priceless. You have been put on this planet because of a great Wisdom. You have been created by a supremely powerful Being, for a purpose, for a meaning. Your journey is so profound that any sense of belittling this purpose would equal injustice. Our prayer beads, also known as a tasbih, misbaha or sibha, are here to help you remember this reality.

From Our Heart To yours.

Our masterfully hand-crafted tasbihs are made with meaning, and with excellence. Mirroring the intentionality behind our existence as humans, our artisans create stunning objects for you to use and gift. This is the opposite of the automated production that lacks any purposefulness. Being human is precious. What humans do is precious.

Tasbihs and Truth

Beautiful crafts teach us about the Truth that is at the very core of reality. They attract us to it and enable us to embrace it. Through dhikr, remembering the Divine, we unlock our hearts to the Beauty around us. We connect with what nourishes our soul.

Objective Truth exists. It is not something that is relative. Without this objective truth human beings find no meaning. It is this objective truth that nurses our soul, which is soothed and pulled gently by the objective Beauty that attracts our gaze. God is beautiful and He loves beauty.


To remind ourselves to not confuse a means for an end, we recite the Basmala regularly. We enounce “in the name of God” in Arabic during prayer but also when we take on activities that might feel more mundane. It reminds us that the very world around us is a sign that points to His name. It is all from Him, and for Him. The Basmala straightens the folds of our intentions. It inspires us to connect with our purpose.

The Basmala also directs the craftsperson’s hands as they pour their artistic freedom within a traditional mold of symmetry and harmony. They pursue perfection with patience. The craftsperson draws near to the Divine by following the innate drive of excelling in one’s craft, building experience for years and years and years.

Your Companion

Our clients around the world are long-term members of the Basmala family. They appreciate refinement and high quality, translated into Islamically inspired, magnificent craftsmanship. Each one of our tasbihs makes a lifelong companion. Each tasbih is uniquely matched to your own personal journey.

Are You Inspired?

Find your Tasbih Companion Today

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