PRECIOUS STONES AND GEMS.
WORKS BY THE AUTHOR.
" Pearls and Pearling Life;"
" The Great Diamonds of 'the World; "
"Gold; its Legal Regulations and Standards," &c. &c.
" Conditions of Nations,"
by G. F. KOI.B,
with Original Notes and Information
by EDWIN W. STREETER, F.R.G.S.
" Pocket Manual of Precious and Semi-Precious Stones,"
Their Composition, Crystallization, Hardness and
The Pearl Fisheries of the Persian Gulf.
THEIR HISTORY, SOURCES AND CHARACTERISTICS.
EDWIN W. STREETER,
Gold Medallist of the Royal Order of Frederic :
Holder of a Gold Medal from H.M. the King of the Belgians.
WITH COLOURED PLATES.
REVISED AND LARGELY RE-WRITTEN, UP TO DATE.
GEORGE BELL & SONS, YORK STREET
[ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.'}
ENTERED AT STATIONERS' HALL.
" I hold every man a debtor to his profeflton, from the
which as men of courfe doe feeke to receive countenance and
profit, fo ought they of duty to endevour themfelves by way of
amends, to be a helpe and ornament thereunto. This is per-
formed in fome degree by the honeft and liberall pra&ice of a
profeffion, when men fhall carry a refpect not to defcend into any
courfe that is corrupt and unworthy thereof, and preferve
themfelves free from the abufes wherewith the fame profeflion is
noted to bee infected ; but more is this performed if a man bee
able to vifite and ftrengthen the roots and foundations of the
fame itfelf, thereby not only gracing it in reputation and dignity,
but alfo amplifying it in perfection and fubftance."
SECTION I. PRECIOUS STONES IN GENERAL.
CHAPTER I. DEFINITION OF THE TERM " PRECIOUS
STONE" OR GEM
II. WHERE PRECIOUS STONES ARE
,, III. PRECIOUS STONES AND THEIR USES
IN BYGONE TIMES p* 9
,, IV. THE WORKING OF PRECIOUS STONES 18
Diamond Cutting ... ... ... 24
The Forms of Precious Stones ... 27
1. The Brilliant 28
2. The Rose ... ... ... 30
3. Indian Cut ... ... ... 30
4. Point Cut 31
5. Briolettes ... 31
6. Portrait Stones 31
7. Step Cut or Graduated Form 31
8. Convex Stones or Cabochon 31
V. THE ENGRAVING AND CARVING OF
PRECIOUS STONES ... 33
Engraved Diamonds .. ... 37
VI. PRECIOUS STONES AS OBJECTS OF
COMMERCE ... ... ... 40
The first known application of
Diamonds for Ornament ... 44
CHAPTER VII. THE BURNING AND COLOURING OF
PRECIOUS STONES ...... 47
The Burning of Precious Stones 47
The Dyeing of Precious Stones 48
SECTION II. DIAMONDS.
CHAPTER I. THE DIAMOND ......... 52
The Origin of the Diamond ... 69
II. AFRICAN DIAMONDS ......... 75
III. AUSTRALIAN DIAMONDS ... ... 96
IV. BORNEO DIAMONDS ......... 102
V. BRAZILIAN DIAMONDS ...... 106
VI. BRITISH GUIANA DIAMONDS ... 117
VII. INDIAN DIAMONDS ......... 118
VIII. RUSSIAN DIAMONDS ......... 133
IX. UNITED STATES' DIAMONDS ... 134
,, X. COLOURED DIAMONDS, Red and Green 136
Blue ...... 137
,, XI. - BORT ... ... ... ... ... 142
XII. CARBONADO ............ 143
The Diamond Drill ...... 144
XIII. VALUE OF ROUGH DIAMONDS ... 146
Cape Rough Diamonds ... ... 147
III. COLOURED STONES.
CHAPTER I. THE RUBY ............ 148
Burma Rubies ... ... ... 153
Siam Rubies ... ... ... 157
Ceylon Rubies ... ... ... 159
Rubies from other localities 160
CHAPTER II. THE RUBY MINES OF BURMA ... 162
III. THE AUTHOR'S CONNEXION WITH THE
RUBY MINES OF BURMA ... 169
IV. THE SAPPHIRE 179
Siam Sapphires 182
Burma Sapphires ... ... ... 184
Cashmere Sapphires 185
Ceylon Sapphires ... ... .... 187
Montana Sapphires 188
Australian Sapphires ... ... 190
Canadian Corundum ... ... 191
V. STAR STONES 193
VI. SPINEL AND BALAS 195
VII. THE EMERALD 198
The Emeralds of Muzo ... ... 201
Egyptian Emeralds 203
Russian Emeralds ... ... 207
Austrian Emeralds 208
Australian Emeralds ... ... 208
Emeralds of the United States ... 209
VIIL THE TRUE OR ORIENTAL CAT'S EYE
(Chrysoberyl) ... ... ... 211
IX. ALEXANDRITE 214
X. THE OPAL 216
Hungarian Opals 218
Australian Opals ... ... ... 219
Mexican and Honduras Opals ... 220
CHAPTER XL THE TURQUOISE 221
The Persian Turquoise Mines ... 225
Fossil or Bone Turquoise, &c ... 231
SECTION IV. SEMI-PRECIOUS STONES.
CHAPTER I. THE AGATE 235
II. AMAZONITE 239
III. AMBER 240
IV. AMETHYST 244
V. ANDALUSITE 246
VI. AQUAMARINE OR BERYL 247
VII. AVANTURINE 249
VIII. BLOODSTONE ... ... ... ... 250
IX. CARNELIAN 251
X. CHRYSOBERYL ... 253
XI. CHRYSOPRASE ... ... ... 255
XII. CROCIDOLITE 257
XIII. EUCLASE 259
XIV. GARNET, CARBUNCLE, AND CINNAMON
Almandine ... ... ... 261
Essonite ... ... ... ... 263
XV. HEMATITE 266
XVI. HlDDENITE 267
XVII. IOL1TE 2 68
CHAPTER XVIII. JADE 269
XIX. JASPER 271
XX. LABRADORITE 273
XXI. LAPIS-LAZULI 275
XXII. MALACHITE ... ... ... 278
XXIII MOONSTONE, SELENITE, AND
XXIV, MOROXITE 281
XXV. OBSIDIAN 282
XXVI. ORIENTAL ONYX 283
XXVII. PERIDOT OR CHRYSOLITE ... 286
XXVIII PHENAKITE 288
XXIX. QUARTZ CAT'S EYE 289
,, XXX. RHODONITE 290
XXXI. ROCK CRYSTAL 291
XXXII. SPHENE 294
XXXIII. SPODUMENE 295
XXXIV. TOPAZ 296
XXXV. TOURMALINE 299
XXXVL ZIRCON OR JARGOON 303
A CLASSIFICATION OF PRECIOUS
AND SEMI-PRECIOUS STONES 305
APPENDIX A ON THE DISCRIMINATION
OF PRECIOUS STONES 309
B GENERAL REMARKS ON THE
TERM " CARAT,'' RATI, & THOLA 320
INDEX ... ... 322
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS.
PORTRAIT OF THE AUTHOR ... ~ ... Frontispiece
CAPE DIAMOND in Matrix ,,. ... facing page 80
CRYSTAL OF YELLOW CAPE DIAMOND ... 88
BLUE DIAMOND ,,136
BURMA RUBY 152
SAPPHIRE in the Matrix ,,184
ROUGH MONTANA SAPPHIRES AND RUBIES 192
SOUTH AMERICAN EMERALD in Matrix ... ,, ,, 200
CHRYSOBERYL CAT'S EYE, in the rough ... ., 211
ALEXANDRITE, in the rough ... ... ... ,, ,,214
QUEENSLAND OPAL in the Matrix 216
TURQUOISE in the Matrix ... ,, 224
CRYSTALS OF QUARTZ, AMETHYST, AQUAMARINE
AND GARNET 234
CRYSTALS OF BRAZILIAN TOPAZ 296
ANY works have been written on the fascin-
ating subject of PRECIOUS STONES AND
GEMS. Authorities on authorities, from re-
mote antiquity to our own day, have been cited
as to their value, their uses, and their properties. But, not-
withstanding all that has been written, I have arrived at
the deliberate conviction, that, as a merchant and dealer
engaged for over fifty years in the purchase and sale of
gems, as well as in their cutting and setting, I might ser -
viceably offer to the Public much information regarding the
nature, the sources, mining, cutting, testing, and value of
these stones. A practical and popular guide to those who
have an interest in ascertaining the genuineness and value
of Precious Stones cannot fail to be generally useful.
As an illustration of the difficulties of the subject, it
may be stated that Prof. A. H. Church, in a lecture
delivered before the Society of Arts on April 6th, 1881,
pointed out a number of errors in the identification of a
collection of Precious Stones which had been exhibited for
years at the South Kensington Museum, although the
official description of these stones had been confided to a
well-known professor in mineralogy and expert in gems. I
have reason to believe that other collections, on the Conti-
nent, if not in this country, contain many specimens of
Precious Stones erroneously named.
In the division of family jewels much injustice is often
done by persons incompetent to form a correct opinion of
their values. A study of this work may serve to demon-
strate the difficulty of an accurate discrimination. In
all cases, whether for valuation or for probate, it would
be wise to submit the jewels to a practised judge.
A lady had bequeathed to her some family jevvels,
consisting of a Sapphire and Diamond suite. As they
had passed probate several times, and been valued by one
of the first jewellers of the day, there was no doubt in the
mind of the legatee of the genuineness of the Sapphires.
On being applied to in relation to their value, I had the
unpleasant duty of pronouncing the " Sapphires " to be
only paste. Had they been genuine they would have
realised from 30,000 to 40,000.
A gem should be a real possession; capable of affording
pleasure to the wearer and the spectator, and, with fair
usage, retaining an intrinsic and marketable value, undi-
minished by lapse of time, and, if fine, rather increasing
in value than otherwise. I have sometimes seen in wear
gems so scratched that their lustre has been seriously im-
paired, and a suspicion was thus excited in the minds of
wearers and friends that there was a defect in the hard-
ness of the stones, and consequently of their genuineness.
If mounted stones are carelessly kept together and allowed
to rub against each other, the Diamonds will inevitably
scratch all the other stones, and thus disfigure them. It
may be worth while to point out that a small sum ex-
pended in re-polishing such stones would restore their
original lustre, revive the pleasure derived from the posses-
sion of them, and prevent the risk of their being sold by
executors as paste or imitation jewellery.
In determining the value of gems, it must be borne
in mind that a perfect stone is never met with ; and
that probably not even ten per cent, of the stones which
are brought into commerce are really of fine quality.
Much study and attention will be required to attain
a thorough knowledge of the properties and appearance of
gems ; but the subject is to most persons of culture one of
singular interest, and with the tests mentioned in the
Appendix (p. 309), a little study will generally enable the
observer to distinguish the true from the false.
With objects such as those referred to above, I am
publishing the present volume, which is the sixth edition
of the original work ; and I hope that in the revised form,
which it now presents, it may be of service to those who
have occasion to handle Precious Stones as a matter
of business, as well as to the wearers of these beautiful
It must be borne in mind that this book is not
intended to be a strictly scientific treatise, but rather
a practical work for those who, whether in the trade
or among the Public at large, desire to obtain some
knowledge of the general characteristics of Diamonds
and other Precious Stones and Gems.
In conclusion, I trust that the Goldsmiths' Company,
as fathers of the trade, will ere long throw open their
fine suite of rooms in Foster Lane, and will not only
establish a comprehensive library of books bearing on the
study of jewellery, but by giving gratuitous Lectures on
Precious Stones and Precious Metals, will offer that aid to
the younger members of our trade, which is necessary for a
proper understanding of their daily business. This Com-
pany have already done something, but we must look to
them for more aid, by affording favourable opportunities
for exhibitions of fine art jewellery, and by awarding
prizes, similar to those offered by the Turners' Company.
This would give an impetus to study to those engaged in
jewellery-work, and would enable the Public to obtain a
more accurate knowledge of, and to take a deeper interest
in, a subject which has hitherto remained the property of
an exclusive few.
The legacies bequeathed to the Goldsmiths' Company
by the famous goldsmiths and jewellers of the I5th, i6th,
and 1 7th centuries, which have since increased in value to
an extent almost inconceivable, without doubt were in-
tended for some such purposes as those to which I have
referred. I find- that so early as 1415, a celebrated gold-
smith, Sir Drugo Barentine, who was Lord Mayor of
London in 1398, and again in 1408, gave " faire lands" to
this Company. At the present day, when so much public
attention is being devoted to the spread of technical educa-
tion, it behoves us to see that the young goldsmith and
jeweller is not neglected, and that the foreigner may not
take his place in the production of art work, and in the
mounting and setting of gems.
The early editions of this work contained a chapter on
u Celebrated Diamonds," but that portion has been omitted
in recent issues, in consequence of my having written a
special work on the subject. In 1882 I published a volume
of some 320 pages under the title of " The Great Diamonds
of the World ; their History and Romance." This work,
which was most favourably received by the press, is now
out of print
In the earlier editions of my " Precious Stones " there
was also a chapter on te Pearls." Some years ago I was
induced to send my two sons on a visit to the various Pearl
fisheries of the world. The information which I received
from them was of so interesting a character, that my atten-
tion was -forcibly directed to the entire subject of Pearls,
and I soon accumulated far too much matter for introduc-
tion into a general volume on Precious Stones. Under
these circumstances I set myself the task of writing a
separate work, devoted entirely to Pearls. This appeared
in 1886, under the title of "Pearls and Pearling Life;"
and was so well received as to be at present out of print.
It may be noted that the present work refers only to
Nature's Gems, and does not therefore deal with artificial
gems, except in so far as they may throw light on the
probable operations of Nature.
Stimulated by the marked encouragement which my
labours on the subject of Precious Stones, Gems, and Pearls
have received, I have endeavoured to make the volume in
its present form still more worthy of its popularity; and with
this view, have subjected the work to a searching revision.
Thus improved, the present (the sixthj edition is sent
forth in the conscientious belief that it contains an
amount of information on Precious Stones and Gems
partly scientific and partly practical not to be found in
any other work.
I am pleased to acknowledge the valuable aid which
I have received from Mr. F. W. Rudler, Curator of the
Museum of Practical Geology, in Jermyn Street, whose
mineralogical knowledge has always been cheerfully placed
at my service when difficulties of a scientific character have
arisen. I am also under obligation to Sir William Crookes,
F.R.S., for scientific advice, and to Mr. North for his
chapter on the modern system of round diamond-cutting ;
while I am likewise indebted to Mr. Atlay, the manager,
and Mr. Morgan, the engineer, at the Burma Ruby Mines,
for local information, as well as to Mr. Plummer, of Sydney,
who has kept me informed with regard to new discoveries of
Precious stones in Australia
Since the sheets of this work have been printed off,
considerable excitement has been aroused by the occur-
rence of Diamonds in a conglomerate, and in gravels, at
Nullagine, in the Pilbarra gold-fields, North-west Australia,
latitude 2is., longitude 120 E. But it remains to be seen
whether the Precious Stones exist there in such quantity,
and of such quality as to render their working a re-
munerative industry. This, in my opinion, is very pro-
blematical, whilst the production of South Africa shows no
WEIGHT BEFORE CUTTING, 186 CTS. AFTER CUTTING, 1061 CTS .
THE"KOH-I-NUR" BEFORE AND*A*-TER CUTTING.
PRECIOUS STONES IN GENERAL.
DEFINITION OF THE TERM PRECIOUS STONE OR GEM.
MONG the infinitely diversified products of
Inorganic Nature, there are certain mineral
substances which form a small class by
themselves standing apart from all others
by the possession of such exceptional characters that they
have always attracted the attention of persons endowed
with taste and refinement. These minerals, distinguished
as Precious Stones, are nine in number, namely : the
Ruby. (True Cat's Eye).
The characters which have commended such stones
in all ages, for purposes of personal ornament, are chiefly
their brilliancy and colour, their durability and rarity. It
is not sufficient, however, that a stone should possess only
one of these characteristics. The mineralogist is familiar
with many stones that are exquisite in colour, yet far too
soft to be used for the*'practical purpose of decoration ; on
the other hand, there may be stones of exceeding hardness
2 Definition of the Term Precious Stone or Gem.
and durability, yet destitute of any beauty of colour or
lustre, and therefore unfitted for personal adornment.
Colour alone is by no means a necessary property in a
precious stone : the Diamond, for example, though pres-
enting in some of its varieties every known tint, may be
absolutely destitute of colour ; nevertheless, it possesses
the power of breaking- up the rays of light which fall
upon it, or pass into its substance, into rainbow-like tints
of transcendent beauty. The Diamond, in fact, unites the
properties of the most opposite elements combining the
purity of water with the flash of fire.
Precious Stones are frequently known also as Gems.
It should be borne in mind, however, that this term is
sometimes restricted by collectors of works of art to
engraved stones that is, to camei and intagli, especially
those which have come down to us from classical antiquity
or from mediaeval times. It may, therefore, be convenient,
in order to avoid confusion, to refer to the precious
minerals themselves as Gem-stones rather than as Gems.
It is difficult to arrange the various Precious Stones in
the order of their relative value, since the order is subject
to occasional variation according to the caprice of fashion
or the rarity of the stones. Nevertheless it is believed that
the following scheme, in which all Precious and Semi-
Precious Stones are grouped in five classes, fairly indicates
the relative rank which they take at the present day.
I. The Pearl stands pre-eminent. It is true that this
substance, being the product of a mollusc or shell-fish,
is not strictly a mineral. It is, however, so intimately
related in many ways with the family of true Precious
Stones that it properly claims a place in any classification
such as that under discussion. The Pearl has increased so
greatly in value in recent times, that if one of a certain size
Definition of the Term Precious Stone or Gem, 3
and weight was worth from 60 to So twenty years ago,
the same Pearl is now worth from 500 to 600.
II. In the second class, and therefore at the head of
the group of Precious Stones proper, stands beyond all
doubt the Burma Ruby.
III. Then comes the Diamond. Many readers may
be surprised to find the Diamond taking so subordinate a
rank ; but the time has gone by when this stone could
claim a supreme position in the market. At the present day
certain mines in South Africa produce Diamonds of pure
water, rivalling the finest stones that were ever brought
to light from the mines of India, Brazil, or elsewhere.
IV. In the fourth class comes first the Emerald, then
the Sapphire, the Oriental Cat's Eye, the Alexandrite, and
afterwards the Precious Opal.
V. In the fifth class may be placed under semi-
precious stones the Peridot, the Hyacinth or Jacinth, the
Topaz, the Zircon, and some 39 other varieties. Some of
these are so beautiful that they deserve a more extended
use in the arts of jewelry than they enjoy at present.
That branch of Mineralogy which deals with Precious
Stones is known in Germany under the special name of
Edelsteinkunde. But neither in this country nor in France
does it possess any distinctive title. Perhaps it may be
best designated in English as " The Science of Jewelry."
So far from being a trivial or frivolous study, the Science
of Gems and Jewelry implies a knowledge of all the
properties and peculiarities of Precious Stones, such as
their physical and chemical properties ; the relation they
bear to other minerals ; their shape and structure ; their
defects and impurities. This science must, therefore
include a competent knowledge of Crystallography, Physics,
Chemistry and Geology. Such knowledge in its entirety
4 Definition of the Term Precious Stone or Gem.
cannot be expected to be found outside the laboratory or
the cabinet of the mineralogist. There are, however,
several comparatively simple means of great value for
the identification of Precious Stones, and as these admit
of application without any profound knowledge of
mineralogy they are given in an Appendix to the
WHERE PRECIOUS STONES ARE FOUND.
>T is a familiar fact that Organic Nature does not
present an equal development of life in every
part of the world. Each country or at least
each zone of climate has its own fauna and flora its
peculiar assemblage of animals and plants. No one needs
to be reminded that the animals and plants of the tropics
are widely different from those of temperate zones, while
these again differ from those of the Polar regions. But
when we turn to the Inorganic world, we fail to detect any
similar laws of distribution. Climate, so far as we know, is
without sensible effect on the development of minerals
and rocks. Many minerals are common to the hottest and
the coldest parts of the world ; yet they present no
discernible difference whether brought from tropical or
from Polar regions. It is true that occasionally there are
slight local differences in crystallization, or in other
physical characters, sufficient to enable an experienced
mineralogist to say at once from what district a given
mineral has been obtained. But these trivial differences
are due rather to geological than to geographical conditions,
and climatic influences have nothing whatever to do with
the distribution of minerals.
Nor is this general rule in any way broken by those
exceptional minerals which we distinguish as Precious
Stones. It was a pardonable supposition of ancient
6 Where Precious Stones are Found.
writers on gems that these beautiful productions of the
mineral world should be mainly confined to tropical coun-
tries. What more natural than the conjecture that those
favoured regions which gave birth to gaily-coloured birds
and gorgeous butterflies and flowers of surpassing love-
liness should also produce minerals of the rarest brilliancy
and beauty ! Yet such a supposition is purely fanciful.
Precious Stones, in truth, are not confined to definite
geographical limits or to particular climates, but occur
abundantly and in about equal perfection in all latitudes.
Nor do the gem stones of one country necessarily differ
from those of other parts of the world. The Diamonds
of India, for example, are hardly, if at all, to be distin-
guished, when polished, from those found in the Ural
mountains, or in Brazil, or at the Jagersfontein Mine in
South Africa. The Emerald of New Granada, again, is
much the same as that which is found in Queen Cleopatra's
mines in Upper Egypt or at Katharineburg, in the Urals.
The Beryl of Siberia has proved no unequal rival to that
of Brazil, and the Amethysts of the Bavarian Palatinate
equal those found in the most favoured spots of South
It is not, indeed, the geographical position which
determines the difference between the relative values of the
sites. Nevertheless it is an acknowledged fact that in India,
Burma, Ceylon, Siam, Brazil, and in some of the Western
States of America, a greater abundance of them has been
discovered than elsewhere.
The Ancients were wont to ascribe the pre-eminence
of certain regions in which Precious Stones are found to
evaporation from the earth which would obviously be
more intense in tropical countries. It was a supposition
pardonably fanciful, that the sunburnt tropics were more
Where Precious Stones are Found. j
favourable to the blossoms of the inorganic world, than the
dark skies of the north.
But although modern researches have shewn that
Precious Stones are not limited to any defined geographical
area, their distribution is yet in a measure circumscribed,
inasmuch as they are not met with in all mountain ranges,
nor in all geological formations. The most valuable are
found in such ranges as are composed of rocks considered
to be among the most ancient in the world in rocks