of stars set in almost the same position as the stars of the Hyades,41
according to Pliny, it was used in Chaldean ceremonies. These points
are not as conspicuous when the gem is examined in the sunlight as when
it is set in a ring. The more brilliant gems are called masculine, the
less brilliant, feminine. Like the carchedonius species of carbunculus this gem is not injured in a fire.42
The chrysolithus which the gem dealers today call hyacinthus differs from sandasiros in
the number of golden points it contains. The latter has only a few, the
former a large number. It is found in Spain, Pontus, Bac-tria, India,
Arabia and Ethiopia. The color of the stone may be golden yellow, hence
the name, reddish yellow or similar in color to the carchedonius carbunculus which they call granatus but with a golden luster. Some of the stones have a color similar to amber and are called chryselec-tros. When
the finest stones are placed next to gold they become whitened and have
a silvery appearance. The less valuable and worthless stones have a
variable color due to white and black spots. The stones that appear to
have smoke through them are called capniae by the Greeks; those with a honey-yellow color, melichrysos because, according to Pliny, they have the appearance of gold shining through clear honey.43 When a stone has a white band through it they called it leucochrysos. The
stones that are full of scales, hairs or are not clear have a luster
similar to saffron-yellow glass. Only the transparent stones are placed
in open settings while those containing a cloud of spots that spoil the
brilliancy are set in rings. Formerly gem setters were in the habit of
placing brass foil on the back of these stones but now they use foil
with a color which almost matches that of the stone. Pliny writes that
the first quality stones come from India, the second quality from
Bactria if they are not variegated while those from Arabia are the
poorest. Some are hard, some soft. The melichrysos from India
is very fragile. The Pontician stones are very light. Bocchus writes
that he had seen Spanish stones weighing twelve pounds. I myself have
seen masses taken from our own mines that weighed more than sixty
pounds. These stones have a rectangular shape, especially those stones
about one inch wide and two inches long. They are all so soft that they
cannot be polished.44
Craterites is very hard with a color between chrysolithus and amber.45
41 A group of seven stars in the constellation Taurus.
There is obvious confusion in this description. The reddish yellow
color, dark smoky appearance and infusibility indicate that it is
garnet or sapphire with solid mineral inclusions or aventurine quartz.
The "infusible garnets" mentioned by Agric-ola and older writers were
probably our corundum.
43 This is an excellent description of a stone backed with foil.
44 From this description one could identify a number of minerals with chrysolithus, topaz,
barite, smithsonite, etc. Undoubtedly many of the descriptions by older
writers referred primarily to the topaz. Agricola undoubtedly saw
crystals of topaz but since this mineral ia uncommonly hard one can
only speculate as to the identity of the soft mineral. It may have
been barite, fluorite, etc.
44 Probably the golden yellow sapphire.