GEMS AND PRECIOUS STONES. 69
another member of the feldspar family, belonging to the triclinic
section (it will not be necessary to describe this system), and is a
silicate of alumina, lime, and soda. It has a very fine play of
colours, and is sometimes used for jewellery; its iridescence is most
marked, and it can hardly be mistaken for anything else. As an
illustration of the freaks of nature, it may be mentioned that a slab
of labradorite, found in Russia, had its constituents arranged in such
a manner that a good resemblance was formed of Louis XIV of France,
wearing a crown of pomegranate, with a border displaying all the
prismatic colours, and a plume of a bluish tint. This natural specimen
was owned by a Russian noble, and it is stated that he refused to part
with it for 250,000 francs. Labradorite when cut as a gem-stone should
not have facets, as its beauty is lost thereby, but it should be cut en cabocJion. It is in little demand as a gem-stone.
Jade or Green-stone (Nephrite)
is well known in the colonies as " New Zealand green-stone," and is a silicate
of magnesia and lime ; it is not found crystallized. It is amorphous,
massive, compact, tough, and is without cleavage; its hardness is 7,
and its specific gravity about '.1. It is infusible. It is not
much used in Europe for jewellery, although throughout Asia it is a
favourite stone. The most colossal and historical of the nephrites
(jade) is the stone covering the tomb of Tamerlane. It is composed of
two parts, and, according to tradition, became broken during transport.
In the border of the higher portion is sculptured in Arabic, an
inscription explaining the genealogy of Tamerlane as far as Toumenal
Khan. From this description we obtain the exact date of the death of
Tamerlane, the 14th of the month Chalbane, of the year 807 of the
Hegira. This stone is known to a Mussulman as " Sistap" or " Koche."
They attribute to it medicinal powers, and many other mysterious
properties. According to the geologist, Mouchetoff, who made special
researches into the history of nephrites, and of the localities which
produce them, this celebrated stone of Tamerlane comes from the
mountains of Khotan; although tradition gives its locality as India.
New Zealand the natives employed this stone for many purposes of use
and adornment, chiefly in the manufacture of their war implements,
their axes, and their peculiar club, the pattoo-pattoo. This
green-stone has been largely used for pendants for the watch-chain,
&c. in Australia; perhaps more for its associations than for any
real beauty it possesses.
India, China, and Turkey, jade is carved into dagger and sword handles,
cups, and other articles, and these are often iulaid with precious
stones. The Indian lapidaries cut the jade with great skill, showing
great delicacy of workmanship.
to Humboldt the Caribees wore jade amulets, cut in the shape of
Babylonian cylinders, the origin of which has been the subject of
antiquarian research. Dr. Fischer has given much time to the study of
this subject, and has endeavoured to prove that the jade objects found
in Mexico and Central America were of Asiatic origin, and were brought
into America by migration. We know that in the old pile-dwellings in
the lakes of Switzerland, polished celts or axe-heads have been
found made of jade; now no jade is known to occur in the rocks of
Europe, but it is plentiful in Turkestan and in some other Eastern
localities. The inference is, that these early dwellers in
Western Europe, during the stone age, brought their jade with them when
they left their Eastern home.