PRECIOUS STONES. 571
years ago, before Mr. Morse turned his attention to the work. He, above
all others, has shown us that diamond-cutting is properly an art and
not an industry.
are at present about 12 cutting establishments in this country,
employing from 1 to 50 men each, and in all about 100, at salaries
ranging from $20 to $50 per week. Most of the cutting done here is of
a high class, some shops being almost entirely employed in recutting
stones previously cut abroad. Ten years ago nearly all the diamonds
used in the United States were purchased through brokers or importers.
Today, owing to the marvelous growth of the diamond business here, and
the facilities for transatlantic travel, many of the large retail
houses buy their diamonds direct in the European markets; and some have
even established branches or agencies abroad.
1877 an international syndicate composed of London, Paris, and
Amsterdam jewelers, wishing to establish a uniform value for the carat,
confirmed 205 milligrams as the standard, and this has been pretty
generally used abroad. Recently the discussion of the question has been
reopened, and it will probably end in the general adoption of the above
standard in place of the twenty or thirty conflicting systems now in
use in different parts of the world.
years ago the wholesale diamond merchants of Amsterdam did not exceed 8
in number; but the development of the African mines has given so great
an impetus to the trade, that within the past decade several diamond
exchanges or clubs have been established as headquarters for the
transaction of business; one of these, the " Handelsbond," has a
membership of 800 and owns a fine building, the rooms of which are so
arranged with respect to light as to render deception difficult and to
facilitate the sale of diamonds. Others known as the " Golconda" and
the " Koh-i-noor" are generally thronged with brokers and merchants,
as also are the neighboring coffee houses.
present there are between 50 and 60 large diamond polishing
establishments, employing perhaps 3,500 polishers, who, however, no
longer receive the princely wages of from $80 to $200 a week which they
received when the African mines first began to produce so largely, and
much higher prices were paid for products of the second and third
quality. When fortune smiled on them the cutters lived in luxury;
today they only receive $15 to $40 a week, and some even less than the
former figure. To-day every establishment does its own selling. It will
doubtless be eventually a question of the survival of the fittest, and
the entire cutting will be controlled by a few powerful firms.
1882 a very remarkable discovery of sapphire was made in the Zauskar
range of the northwestern Cashmere Himalaya, near the line of perpetual
snow, a short distance from the village of Machel and one-half day's
journey from the top of Umasi pass. The stones were found at the foot
of a precipice, where a land slide had taken place, the including rocks
being gneiss and mica.