Bible comes to life as precious gems discovered for first time in Israel
Family sells first gems found in Israel, fufilling a prophecy in the book of Isaiah
ACRE, Israel – A family-owned company said it brought Bible verses to life after the Israeli government certified it as the first to discover precious gems in the Holy Land.
The verse, found in the book of Isaiah, states that Israel’s foundations will be laid with sapphires and its borders with precious stones. After the Taubs discovered various gems through its mining firm, the Israeli family launched a new company in 2022 to sell them.
“… I will lay your foundations with sapphires and I will make your windows of jasper and your gates of carbuncle stones, and all your border of precious stones” (Isaiah 54:11-12), the verse reads.
“It is a promise of God to Israel,” Holy Gems CEO Tali Shalem-Taub told Fox News. “Why nobody ever tried to find them before, I don’t know, but it’s true.”
Holy Gems launched after the Taubs’ mining company, Shefa in Israel, received permission to sell the gems it extracted near the northern Israeli city of Haifa. Its facility is located in the ancient city of Acre, where the company sorts the gems from soil and welcomes visitors to its showroom.
The gems and minerals mined so far include natural moissanite, sapphire, ruby, garnet, hibonite, spinel, ilmenite, zircon, rutile and even diamonds, though they aren’t commercial-grade.
The crown jewel of the company is the Carmel Sapphire, also known as carmeltazite, which includes a mineral previously thought to only exist in space, according to Shalem-Taub. At first, Shefa didn’t know what the mineral was, so it sent a sample for identification to its then-collaborator, Mercury University in Australia.
“They were the ones to discover that this gem is a corundum with inclusions inside which are minerals that do not exist anywhere else in the world,” Shalem-Taub said, adding that the conditions needed for this gem are very specific. “The scientists actually said that it was like a scientific proof of the uniqueness of the land itself.”
“We totally recognize and connect with the holiness of this land, the history of this land,” Shalem-Taub said. “We didn’t know it was special also in terms of geology.”
The sapphire, with various shades of blue and gray, has a sky-like appearance. The gem, only found in the Holy Land, was chosen as the International Mineralogical Association’s 2018 mineral of the year.
It was not an easy path for the Taub family to make their discovery.
The family first got into the business of precious gems after Shalem-Taub’s grandfather, Chanan Taub, fled Europe for Israel when Adolf Hitler came to power and set up one of the first diamond polishing factories in Israel.
“He managed to escape the Holocaust, but unfortunately the rest of his family died there,” Shalem-Taub said.
Shalem-Taub’s father, Avraham “Avi” Taub, joined the family businesses after serving in the Israel Defense Forces during the 1973 Yom Kippur war. He took the business to the next level by redirecting into manufacturing and selling jewelry.
Meanwhile, the Taubs were a secular Jewish family, until Avi Taub visited one of the most influential rabbis of the 20th century, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, who led the Chabad movement. After becoming observant, Shalem-Taub’s father heard Schneerson in 1988 tell the mayor of Haifa where precious stones were within the northern Israel city.
“The uniqueness of Haifa are that it has a sea, and it has a valley and in the valley there are precious stones and gems,” Schneerson says in the video in Hebrew, although he never visited Israel.
As a devout follower, the elder Taub took Schneerson at his word and launched Shefa to search for the gems, despite scientists and experts telling him gems were unlikely to exist that region.
“He was a jeweler and a businessman, a diamond trader, and he knew what it meant if there will be precious gems in Israel,” Shalem-Taub said. “It was a dream, but he said, ‘Well, if the Rebbe said it,’ then he went on this journey.”
According to Shalem-Taub, her father, a respected businessman, was mocked and doubted.
“Everybody thought he went crazy,” Shalem-Taub said. “He lost a lot of his credibility, he lost a lot of his money, he lost a lost of his so-called friends.”
But her father remained determined.
“Every discovery was more amazing than the other,” she said, adding that he father suddenly passed away in October 2019, just five months before the company’s findings were officially recognized by the state of Israel.
“We received the certificate of discovery, meaning the state of Israel acknowledges that fact that we found an economic deposit of precious gems in Israel,” Shalem-Taub said. “This was an amazing step for us and the country in general.”
Prior to receiving the certificate and additional approvals, the company was unable to sell the gems it mined, forcing it to rely on outside investments. Shalem-Taub said this is the first year Holy Gems was able to generate income off of the gems.
“There’s a lot of times I wish he was here to see what we’re doing, but I’m fortunate enough to take his dreams and make them a reality,” Shalem-Taub said. “For me, it connects me to him.”
Products Holy Gems offers include luxury jewelry, some with a biblical twist such as “Mordechai’s Royal Ring” for men, which was inspired by the book of Esther when King Ahasuerus tells Mordechai and Esther to write a decree in his name to protect Jews and seal it with his ring. The “Midst of the Sea” women’s ring illuminates the story of Moses parting the Red Sea with a wave-like shape and 12 sapphires symbolizing each tribe of Israel.