ZMILAMPIS: ZMILACES : Cat's-eye?
Pliny as found in the Euphrates, resembling Proconnesian marble, with a
greenish-yellow colour in the centre—terms too vague to be of much
assistance in identifying the gem intended, were they not elucidated
by the fuller details supplied by the more technical Solinus (xx) ; "
Zmilaces, a gem picked up in the bed of the Euphrates, in appearance
like the Proconnesian marble,* except that in the middle convexity of
the stone a green thing shines through like the pupil of the eye."
exactly applies to our Cat's-eye, a transparent Quartz full of minute
fibres of Asbestos, and of a yellow hue slightly tinged with green.
Opalescent from its constitution, it is always cut in a highly convex
form, and of a long oval. The opalescence is thus confined to a narrow
vertical streak of light, exactly resembling, from its contrast with
tie yellowish green of the ground, the pupil of the feline eye at
noon-day. That the ancients knew this stone there can be little doubt ;
for it is very accurately described, and under its present name of
Cat's-eye (Ainol. Hurr), by Ben Mansur, whose work faithfully
represents a state of mineralogieal knowledge that had existed long
before his period. He places it sixth on his scale of value, next to
the Diamond : for strange to say he omits the Opal entirely.
Ceylon exclusively furnished it of old, as at present.
* The ' Bianco e nero antico,' according to Corsi.