ZMILAMPIS: ZMILACES : Cat's-eye?
Pliny as found in the Euphrates, resembling Pro-connesian 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 Procon-nesian 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
the yellowish green of the ground, the pupil of the feline eye. That
the ancients knew this stone there can be no doubt ; for it is very
accurately described, and under its present name of Cat's-eye (Ainol. Huit), by
M. Ben Mansur, whose work faithfully represents the state of
mineralo-gical knowledge that had existed long before his day. He
places it sixth in his scale of value, next to the Diamond : for
strange to say he omits the Opal entirely.
Ceylon furnishes it at present.1 A perfect gem is yet of considerable value in Europe, but the Hindoos value it above all precious stones after the Diamond.