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ZMILAMPIS.
341
ZMILAMPIS: ZMILACES : Cat's-eye?
Described by 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."
This 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.