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Ch. 2: Corundum: Sapphires, Rubies

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22                           GEMS AND PRECIOUS STONES.
The rubies are obtained in Siatn by the natives washing the alluvial deposit that contains them. This washing is carried on in a most primitive way with the dish. Large numbers of natives are thus employed.
I am informed that at the locality where the rubies are obtained, the for­mation is as follows :—Surface soil, 1 foot; under this a sandy clay, from which the gems are obtained; then pure clay upon metamorphic rock, over­lying basalt. The majority of the stones are small, a large one being rarely obtained. The rubies are plentiful. They are principally used by watch­makers. The neighbouring hills are principally an igneous rock, and there appears little duubt but that this rock is the matrix of these gems.
The hardness of the gem varieties of corundum is such that they are only scratched by the diamond ; and partly for that reason an engraved ruby was looked upon with admiration. At the London Exhibition of 1851 there were two engraved rubies belonging to the Hope collection, one representing the head of Jupiter-Serapis, the other a full length figure of Minerva-Poliada. A good many other engraved rubies are recorded, but some of these pro­bably are not genuine.
The ruby is cut by means of diamond powder on an iron wheel, and polished on a copper one with tripoli and water. In the East, corundum wheels are used for the cutting. The best stones are usually cut with facets, but imperfect ones are cut en caboclion (see plate, " Eorms of cutting pre­cious stones"), that is, with a convex surface without facets. The slippers of Chinese and Indian ladies are often ornamented with rubies, cut en cabochon, and a large quantity were at one time used to ornament the armour, scabbards, and harness, of nobles and others in India and China. In fact, the ruby has always been highly esteemed in Oriental countries, being regarded as endowed with more than ordinary properties, even being laid beneath the foundation of buildings, to secure good fortune to the structure.
In New South "Wales a few rubies only have been obtained at the localities given below, although no doubt a large number have been overlooked by miners under the impression that they were garnets. Those found have been small, and always in " drifts."
Considering the importance and value of the ruby, it would be judicious in all cases to ascertain the identity of red stones. The expression " better be sure than sorry " is very apt.
The importance of correct nomenclature in gems is well illustrated in the case of the supposed rubies from South Australia. The finding of these garnets caused some excitement at the time, although no mineralogist would consider them anything but garnets. They are dark, deficient in hardness, fusible, and are not dichroic. There is an educational set of these garnets in the Museum collection.
The following are the localities in this Colony where rubies have been found:—
County Phillip.—Cudgegong River, Great Mullen Creek, Lawson's
Creek, Eats' Castle Creek, between Eumbi and Bimbijong.
,, Wellington.—Bald Hills, Mudgee.
„ Wynyard.—Tumberumba.
A variety of the ruby, called Barklyite, has been found at Two-mile Flat, Cudgegong, New South Wales, and by Mr. Porter, at New England.
The specimens of this purple or magenta coloured opaque corundum in the Museum collection, all came from the Ovens, in Victoria. The hardness is a little less than 9, sapphire just scratching it. There is no external signs
Ch. 2: Corundum: Sapphires, Rubies Page of 96 Ch. 2: Corundum: Sapphires, Rubies
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