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Ch. 16: Gemstone Definitions, Values, Imports, ... Collections of Gems

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3l6                       GEMS AND PRECIOUS STONES IN THE
United States much more extensively than ever before, but it has not always proved profitable. London is the great market for diamonds in the rough, and diamonds are sold so soon after arrival there, and the competition of the cutters of continental Europe is so keen, that Americans, who have not such ready ac­cess to the market, cannot always make a profitable purchase ; moreover, the recent consolidation of the larger mines has placed the control of the price of rough diamonds in a few hands. The trade, therefore, has in many cases been given up, and among the successful dealers the standard of merit has been raised until to-day the finest cutting is done in the United States. A large part of the work done here consists in cutting fine material, in recutting old stones that were valued in Europe for weight only, or in improving modern work, and these branches are generally profitable. But even with a protective duty of io per cent, on cut gems (a higher rate would encourage smugglers), it is im­probable that the work of the great foreign cutting-centres can be rivalled in this country, since the demand is for fine material, and large parcels of rough stones seldom yield more than io per cent, of the best quality.
Henry D. Morse, of Boston, was the first to cut diamonds in this country, and the best cutters in the United States to-day received their training under him. Educating in this art young Americans, both men and women, was not his greatest work, for he showed that diamond-cutting, which had so long been monop­olized by the Hollanders, was degenerating in their hands into a mere mechanical trade. He studied the diamond scientifically, and taught his pupils that mathematical precision in cutting greatly enhanced the beauty and consequently the value of the gem ; and his artistic sense, sound judgment, and keen percep­tion enabled him to carry the art to a degree of perfection not often attained. His treatment of the diamond gave a great im­petus to the industry both here and abroad, shops being opened, both in this country and in London, in consequence of his suc­cess. In his shop a machine for cutting diamonds was invented, that did away in a great measure with the tediousness and inac­curacy of the old manual process. Thanks to his labors, there are now in the United States some of the best cutters in the
Ch. 16: Gemstone Definitions, Values, Imports, ... Collections of Gems Page of 364 Ch. 16: Gemstone Definitions, Values, Imports, ... Collections of Gems
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Kunz. Precious Stones of North America.
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