Ch. 3: Precious Gem stones in 1887

Ch. 3: Precious Gem stones in 1887 Page of 36 Ch. 3: Precious Gem stones in 1887 Text size:minus plus Restore normal size   Mail page  Print this page
574                                MINERAL RESOURCES.
worth from 1878 to 1S8S. Brazilian pebbles worth $65,000 have been cut or sold ready for regrinding since 1878, and less thau $3,000 in the ten years preceding.
Ten years ago few of our jewelers carried more than the following stones in stock: Diamond, ruby, sapphire, emerald, garnet, and occa­sionally a topaz or aquamarine. The gem aud mineralogical collec­tions contained a large series of beautiful stones, hard, and of rich color, but known here as "fancy stones" and by the French as pierres de fantasie. Since then considerable interest has centered in these fancy stones, and any leading jeweler is not only expected to be familiar with, but to keep almost all of them in stock. This change may be partly re­ferred to the fact that since the Centennial Exhibition art matters have received more attention among us than before.
The Duke of Connaught gave his bride elect a cat's-eye ring as an engagement token; this was enough to make that stone fashionable and to increase its value greatly. The demand soon extended to Ceylon, where the true chrysoberyl cat's-eye is found, and stimulated the search for them there. Iu the chrysoberyl cat's-eye the effect is the result of a twinning of the crystal, or of a deposit between its crystalline layers of other minerals in microscopic inclusions. If the stone be cut across these layers en cabochon, or carbuncle cut, as it is called, a bright line of light will be noticed on the dome-like top of the stone. In price they range from $20 upwards; exceptional stones have sold at from $1,000 to $8,000.
In the search for these chrysoberyl cat's eyes an endless series of chrysoberyls has been found, of deep golden, light yellow, yellow green, dark green, sage green, yellowish brown, and other tints. They are superb gems, weighing from 1 to 100 carats each, ranking next to the sapphire in hardness. They gave a great surprise to the gem dealers; for it was found that the darker leaf green or olive green stones pos­sessed the wonderful dichroitic property of changing to columbine red by artificial light, the green being entirely subdued and the red pre­dominating. They were in fact alexandrites, a gem which had formerly been found only in Siberia, and even there of poor quality; though found in large crystals, a perfect gem of even 1 carat was a great rarity. Here, however, fine gems but rarely under 4 carats were found and an exceptional one weighed 67 carats. They can be numbered among the most remarkable gems known. Strange to say, among this alexandrite variety a few have been found which combine the char­acteristics of the cat's-eye and the alexandrite and were accordingly named the alexandrite cat's-eye.
Moonstones also from this same province of Kandy, Ceylon, were brought to light by this search for cat'seyes. It would not be an over­estimate to say that 100,000 of these stones have been mounted here in the last four years. They vary in size from one-eighth of an inch to nearly 2 inches long and 1 inch thick, and many of them surpass anything
Ch. 3: Precious Gem stones in 1887 Page of 36 Ch. 3: Precious Gem stones in 1887
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US Geol. Surv. 1887. Gemstones, Metals.
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