While we do not know for certain exactly when their meanings were discovered, we do know that healing stones have been in use for a long time. In ancient times these stones were used for quite a few different purposes. Many of them were ground to a powder and were the one of the methods available to color clothing and textiles.
Some ancient textiles have been found to be colored using common crystals. And some were ground and painted on the skin...for religious or shamanic ceremonies.