Why do we find gemstones so pretty?

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What makes colorful, shiny minerals so appealing to us humans?

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As we evolved, we learned to associate “shiny” with “water source” since water tends to looks shiny and/or sparkly from a distance. Due to this long-term association ingrained in our minds, we’ve come to associate shiny things with beauty and value.

Bright colors make your monkey brain produce happy chemicals. As a previous poster mentioned, something shiny is evolutionarily linked to water, but bright colors are also linked to high-nutrition foods like berries and such. Our brains developed over time to “reward us emotionally” for finding and having these things available to us in order to further incentivize survival (& reproduction).

Add that in with the lengthy socioeconomic history of the desirability of gems for signaling wealth, beauty, status, or even for spiritual reasons, you have created a highly coveted item.