Navaratna in Sanskrit means ‘jewel with nine stones’, where nava stands for nine and ratna for jewel; together with the saptaratna, seven gems, the pancharatna, five gems and the triratna, three gems, is part of a collection of amulets made by combining the stones in order to protect the bearer.
The tradition of jewelry created by combining different stones originates in countries like India, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Indonesia and Burma, large producers of gems since ancient times.
In some traditions, these amulets have great importance and significance; in Thailand the Navaratna is one of the jewels of the sovereign, but it is also one of the highest honors bestowed by the king to members of the Ancient Order of the Nine Gems, the Nopparat Rajavaraporn: members of this order are offered rewards such as a pendant with nine gems, worn by men on the left shoulder, pinned on a yellow band edged in green, red and blue, while women wear it, on the same shoulder, on a simpler cloth, along with a pin with the same characteristics; finally, exclusive of men, there is ring the be worn on the right hand’s ring finger.
Moreover, according to Hindu astrology, life on earth is governed by nine forces called navagrahas, energies that affect people’s lives depending on their astronomical postion on the day of one’s birthday: thus, wearing the nine gems helps to draw the energetic balance of the earth.
In addition, all Navaratna are considered bearers of good fortune, able to ward off negative forces, due to their favorable action on navagrahas: often given to newlyweds on their wedding day, is seen as a symbol of good luck, bringer of fertility, peace and happiness.
The traditional division of the nine stones according to Vedic Astrology distinguishes five maharatna, precious stones, and four uparatna, semi-precious stones: to the first group belong diamonds, pearls, rubies, blue sapphires and emeralds; to the other group yellow sapphires, cat’s eyes, hessonite garnets and red corals.
Moreover, in the ancient Ayurvedic texts, still in use, also the human body is composed of nine dhatus, the nine components: these are the meat, hair, skin, blood, bones, bone marrow, fat, semen and finally the life force. Each part is associated with each of the nine stones: flesh-white or yellow sapphire, hair-blue sapphire, skin-cat’s eye, blood-coral, diamond-bone, bone marrow, emerald, hessonite-fat, seed-pearl, ruby-life force.
Each of these minerals has special virtues and characteristics, exploited to increase their healing powers.
In addition, they symbolically represent the nine planets of sidereal Vedic astrology, and here again there is another association: ruby-Sun, Venus-diamond, natural pearl-Moon, red coral-Mars, the hessonite represents Rahu, the ascending lunar node, while Cat’s eye represents Ketu, the descending lunar node, blue sapphire-Saturn, yellow sapphire-Jupiter and finally emerald-Mercury.
In the arrangement of the stones on the jewel it is important to maintain the order shown above, starting from the ruby in the center and going clockwise from the top with the other stones; therefore, only a ruby or red spinel may occupy the central part of Navaratnas; as the sun occupies the center of the solar system so the ruby that symbolizes it should occupy the center of this wonderful gem: do not place such stone in the center would mean acting against nature.