Tortoiseshell has been prized for its exotic, almost mystical qualities since antiquity. The Romans and Greeks heralded the tortoise's shell as a symbol of fertility and the Earth. It was associated with Aphrodite and Hermes, deities of love and sexuality. Young women would often wear jewelry made of the tortoiseshell to help increase their chances of finding lasting love. The Chinese soon discovered its thermoplastic properties (meaning it could be molded when heated and maintain its shape when cooled) and began using it as a veneer and inlay in various furnishings. By the 16th century, this costly process made its way to Europe, where tortoiseshell became highly sought by the upper classes and was used to veneer items from small boxes to picture frames. Today, substantial works featuring tortoiseshell are in considerable demand.