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Adamas, Diamond

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ADAMAS.                                          25
from the Lower Empire, for the head is much thrown up, and has the sides pierced into a pattern, the " opus interrasile," so much in fashion during those times. It is set with two diamonds of (probably) a carat each, one a perfect octahedron of considerable lustre, the other duller and irregularly crystallised. Another such example might be sought for in vain throughout the largest cabinets of Europe.
Pliny retails a "jewellers' story" as to the infrangibility of the Diamond, which was only to be overcome by first steeping it in goat's blood, and thereanent indulges in certain profound re­flections upon the doctrine of Antipathies; adding that such a dis­covery could never have been guessed by mere mortal ingenuity, but must have been the express revelation of Heaven. M. Ben Mansur also gravely states that a Diamond laid upon an anvil, and struck with a hammer, instead of breaking, is driven into the anvil; and that the only resource is to wrap it up in lead, and then to hammer it, or else enclose it in wax or turpentine; expedients in reality resorted to, as one can well suppose, in order to prevent the precious splinters from flying about and being lost.
This infrangibility was naturally in people's minds the conco­mitant idea with the hardness of the gem already established; that, and resistance to violence, being considered as inseparable ; and besides, the experiment was too costly to be ever tried. But in reality, this gem being composed of infinitely thin layers deposited over each other in a direction parallel to the faces of the primitive crystal, it can easily be split by a blow of a knife in the direction of these laminae. This property had been dis­covered long ago, even in the l6th century, but then looked upon as the chimera of a visionary, for De Boot (1609) says that he knew a physician who " boasted that he by a singular artifice could stick a diamond upon the point of a needle ; and moreover, without the aid of any instrument or material, other than those furnished by the human body, divide it into fine scales like a piece of talc : " a comparison which attests the truth of his boast. The arcanum, however, like many other valuable mediaeval recipes, died with the discoverer, until Dr. Wollaston again hit upon it, and made thereby some profitable speculations by pur­chasing large diamonds at a low price which had been rejected by
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King. Natural History of Precious Stones.