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The Emerald by A. C. Hamlin, M. D.

Dutens and several others who have written upon gems and precious stones during the last two centuries have asserted that the ancients were unacquainted with the true emerald, and that Heliodorus, when speaking nearly two thousand years ago of "gems green as a meadow in the spring," or Pliny, when describing stone of a "soft green lustre," referred to the peridot, the plasma, the malachite, or the far rarer gem, the green sapphire. But the antiquary has come to the rescue with the treasures of the despoiled mounds of Tuscany, the exposed ashes of Herculaneum and Pompeii, and now exhibits emeralds which were mounted in gold two thousand years before Columbus dreamed of the New World, or Pizarro and his remorseless band gathered the precious stones by the hundred-weight from the spoils of Peru. Although these specimens of antique jewelry set with emeralds may be numbered by the score or more in the museums and "reliquaries" of Europe, but very few engraved emeralds have descended to us from ancient times: This rarity is not due to the hardness of the stone, for the ancient lapidaries cut the difficult and still harder sapphire: therefore we must believe the statement of the early gem-writers that the emerald was exempted from the glyptic art by common consent on account of its beauty and costliness.

The emerald is now one of the rarest of gems, and its scarcity gives rise to the inquiry as to what has become of the abundant shower of emeralds which fairly rained upon Spain during the early days of the conquest of Mexico and Peru, bringing down the value of fine stones to a trifling price. As with all commercial articles, there is a waste and loss to be accounted for during the wear of three centuries, but this alone will not explain their present rarity in civilized countries. Even in the times of Charles II., when the destitution of the country was extreme, the dukes of Infantado and Albuquerque had millions in diamonds, rubies and precious stones, yet hardly possessed a single sou. So impoverished was the land, and so slender were the purses of all, that the duke of Albuquerque dined on an egg and a pigeon, yet it required six weeks to make an inventory of his plate. At this period, when the nobles gave fêtes the lamps were often decorated with emeralds and the ceilings garlanded with precious stones. The women fairly blazed with sparkling gems of fabulous value, while the country was starving. Most, if not all, of this missing treasure was transferred to Asia, and with the silver current which flowed steadily from the Spanish coffers into India went many of the emeralds also; for in those regions this gem is regarded as foreign stone, and the natives, investing it with the possession of certain talismanic properties, prize it above all earthly treasures.

When the Spaniards commenced their march toward the capital of Mexico, they were astonished at the magnificence of the costumes of the chiefs who came to meet them as envoys or join them as allies, and among the splendid gems which adorned their persons they recognized emeralds and turquoises of such rare perfection and beauty that their cupidity was excited to the highest degree. During the after years of conquest and occupation the avaricious spoilers sought in vain for the parent ledge where these precious stones were found. Recent times have, however, revealed the home of the Mexican turquoise, which has proved to be in the northern part of Mexico, as the Totonacs informed the inquiring Spaniards. The first of these mines, which is of great antiquity, is situated in the Cerrillos Mountains, eighteen miles from Santa Fé. The deposit occurs in soft trachyte, and an immense cavity of several hundred feet in extent has been excavated by the Indians while searching for this gem in past times. Probably some of the fine turquoises worn by the Aztec nobles at the time of the Spanish Conquest came from this mine. Another mine is located in the Sierra Blanca Mountains in New Mexico, but the Navajos will not allow strangers to visit it. Stones of transcendent beauty have been taken from it, and handed down in the tribe from generation to generation as heirlooms. Nothing tempts the cupidity of the Indians to dispose of these gems, and gratitude alone causes them to part with any of these treasures, which, like the mountaineers of Thibet, they regard with mystical reverence. The Navajos wear them as ear-drops, by boring them and attaching them to the ear by means of a deer sinew. Lesser stones are pierced, then strung on sinews and worn as neck-laces. Even the nobler Ute Indians, when stripping the ornaments of turquoise from the ears of the conquered Navajos, value them as sacred treasures, and refuse to part with them even for gold or silver.

All the Spanish accounts of the invasion of Mexico agree in the great abundance of emeralds, both in the adornment of the chiefs and nobles and also in the decoration of the gods, the thrones and the paraphernalia. The Mexican historian Ixtlilxochitl says the throne of gold in the palace of Tezcuco was inlaid with turquoises and other precious stones—that a human skull in front of it was crowned with an immense emerald of a pyramidal form.

The great standard of the republic of Tlascala was richly ornamented with emeralds and silver-work. The fantastic helmets of the chiefs glittered with gold and precious stones, and their plumes were set with emeralds. The mantle of Montezuma was held together by a clasp of the green chalchivitl (jade), and the same precious gem, with emeralds of uncommon size, ornamented other parts of his dress.

The Mexicans carved the obdurate jade and emerald with wonderful skill, using, like the Peruvians, nothing but silicious powder and copper instruments alloyed with tin. They also worked with exquisite taste in gold and silver, and they represented Nature so faithfully and so beautifully that the great naturalist Hernandez took many of these objects thus portrayed for his models when describing the natural history of the country.

When Cortés returned home he displayed five emeralds of extraordinary size and beauty, and presented them to his bride, the niece of the duke de Bejar. On his famous expedition along the Pacific coast and up the Gulf of California he was reduced to such want as to be obliged to pawn these jewels for a time. One of them was as precious as Shylock's turquoise, and Gomara states that some Genoese merchants who examined it in Seville offered forty thousand golden ducats for it. One of the emeralds was in the form of a rose; the second in that of a horn; the third like a fish with eyes of gold; the fourth was like a little bell, with a fine pearl for a tongue, and it bore on its rim the following inscription in Spanish: "Blessed is he who created thee!" The fifth, which was the most valuable of all, was in the form of a small cup with a foot of gold, and with four little chains of the same metal attached to a large pearl as a button: the edge of the cup was of gold, on which was engraved in Latin words, "Inter natos mulierum non surrexit major." These splendid gems are now buried deep in the sand on the coast of Barbary, where they were lost in 1529, when Cortés was shipwrecked with the admiral of Castile whilst on their way to assist Charles V. at the siege of Algiers.

The quantity of emeralds obtained by the Spaniards in their pillage of Mexico was large, but it was trifling when compared with that collected by Pizarro and his remorseless followers in the sack of Peru. Many large and magnificent stones were obtained by the Spaniards, but the transcendent gem of all, called by the Peruvians the Great Mother, and nearly as large as an ostrich egg, was concealed by the natives, and all the efforts of Pizarro and his successors to discover it proved unavailing.

The immense uncut Peruvian emerald given by Rudolph II. to the elector of Saxony is still preserved in the Green Vaults at Dresden. This collection is the finest in the world, and is of the value of many millions of dollars. The treasures are arranged in eight apartments, each surpassing the previous one in the splendor and richness of its contents. This museum dates from the early period when the Freyburg silver-mines yielded vast revenues, and made the Saxon princes among the richest sovereigns in Europe. With lavish hand these potentates purchased jewels and works of art, and the treasures they have thus accumulated are of immense value, and remind the traveler of the gorgeous descriptions of Oriental magnificence.

The finest emerald in Europe is said to belong to the emperor of Russia. It weighs but thirty carats, but it is of the most perfect transparency and of the most beautiful color. There are many other fine emeralds among the imperial jewels of the czar, some of which are of great size and rare beauty. The ancient crown of Vladimir glitters with four great stones of unusual brilliancy. The grand state sceptre is surmounted by another emerald of great size. The sceptre of Poland, which is now treasured in the Kremlin, has a long green stone, fractured in the middle. It is not described, and may be one of the Siberian tourmalines, some of which closely approach the emerald in hue. The imperial orb of Russia, which is of Byzantine workmanship of the tenth century, has fifty emeralds. This fact alone would seem to prove that emeralds were known in Europe or Asia Minor long before the discovery of America; but, on the other hand, the ancient crown which was taken when Kasan was subjugated in 1553 is destitute of emeralds. And hence we are inclined to believe the imperial orb to be of modern workmanship, especially as some of the ancient state chairs do not exhibit emeralds among their decorations of gems and precious stones.

Nowhere in North America do the true emeralds occur. Professor Cleaveland, who was one of the best authorities of his day, maintained nearly half a century ago that emeralds which exhibited a lively and beautiful green hue were found in blasting a canal through a ledge of graphic granite in the town of Topsham in Maine. Several of the crystals presented so pure, uniform and rich a green that he ventured to pronounce them precious emeralds. But to-day we are unable to verify the assertion, or point to a single specimen similar in hue to the emerald from the above-mentioned locality.

The nearest approach to the emerald in color, with the exception of the incomparable green tourmalines from Maine, are the beryls of North and South Royalston in the State of Massachusetts. These beautiful stones exhibit the physical, characteristics of emeralds with the exception of the color, in which they differ very perceptibly. But to appreciate fully the difference in hue we must compare the two gems. Then the lively green of the beryl fades away before the overpowering hue of the emerald, whose rich prismatic green may be taken as the purest type of that color known to the chemist or the painter.

Two summers ago we visited the localities in Massachusetts which were famous in the days of Hitchcock and Webster. We found that the beryls occurred in a very coarse granite, where the quartz appeared in masses and the felspar in huge crystals. These also occur in finer granite, and exhibit no indications of veins or connection with each other. They are few in number, and are soon exhausted by blasting, being generally very superficial. After removing several tons of the rock at the locality at North Royalston, where the beryls appear on the summit of the loftiest hill, our labors were at length rewarded with two beautiful crystals. One of them was a fine prism an inch in diameter, of perfect transparency and of a deep sea-green color, which, however is far from being similar to the transcendent hue of the Granada emeralds, which exhibit an excess of neither blue nor yellow. The other was yellowish-green, resembling the chrysoberyls of Brazil.

Other but imperfect crystals were brought to light, some fragments of which exhibited the deepest golden tints of the topaz, and others the tints of the sherry-wine colored topazes of Siberia. Magnificent crystals have been found in these localities in times long past, and from the fragments and sections of crystals found in the débris of early explorations we observed the wide range of color and the deep longitudinal striae which characterize the renowned beryls from the Altai Mountains, in Siberia. Lively sea- and grass-green, light and deep yellow, also blue crystals of various shades, have been found here.

At the quarries on Rollestone Mountain in Fitchburg beryls of a rich golden color have been blasted out. Some of these approach the chrysoberyl and topaz in hardness and hue. Others so closely resemble the yellow diamond that they may readily be taken for that superior gem. The refractive power of these yellow stones is remarkable, and the goniometer will probably reveal a higher index than is accorded to all the varieties of beryl by the learned Abbé Haüy.

Beautiful transparent beryls have been found among the granite hills of Oxford county in Maine, and the late Governor Lincoln nearly half a century ago possessed a splendid crystal which would have rivaled the superb prism found at Mouzzinskaia, and which the Russians value so highly. The extended and unexplored ledges of granite which rise from the shores of the ocean at Harpswell in Maine, and stretch north-westward for nearly a hundred miles, quite to the base of the White Mountain group, are not only rich in beryls, but they contain many of the rarest minerals known to the mineralogist. And perhaps there is no other field of equal extent in the country which offers to the mineralogist such a harvest of the rare and curious productions of the mineral kingdom.

At Haddam in Connecticut beautiful crystals of beryl have been discovered, and one of these, of fine green color, an inch in diameter and several inches in length, was preserved in the cabinet of Colonel Gibbs. Professor Silliman possessed another fine one, seven inches in length.

The mountains in Colorado have yielded some fine specimens. But the finest of the beryl species come from Russia. In the Ural Mountains the crystals are small, but of fine color; in the Altai Mountains they are very large and of a greenish blue; but in the granitic ledges of Odon Tchelon in Daouria, on the frontier of China, they are found in the greatest perfection. They occur on the summit of the mountain in irregular veins of micaceous and white indurated clay, and are greenish-yellow, pure pale green, greenish-blue and sky-blue. The chief matrix of the beryl all over the world is graphic granite, but it may occur in other rocks. The light green stones of Limoges in France appear in a vein of quartz traversing granite. At Royalston we observed them to spring seemingly from the felspar and project into smoky quartz, becoming more transparent as they advanced into the harder stone.

The beryl possesses the same crystalline form and specific gravity as the emerald, but its hardness (especially in the yellow varieties) is sometimes greater. The only perceptible difference in the two stones is in the color. Cleaveland thought that as the emerald and beryl had the same essential characters, they might gradually pass into each other; and Klaproth, finding the oxides of both chrome and iron in one specimen, was led to take the same view. The crystals of true emerald are almost always small (with the exception of those found in the Wald district in Siberia), whilst those of the beryl vary from a few grains to more than a ton in weight. The crystals of both are almost invariably regular hexahedral prisms, sometimes slightly modified. Those of the beryl we sometimes find quite flat, as though they had been compressed by force: then again they are acicular and of extraordinary length, considering their slender diameter. Sometimes their lateral faces are longitudinally striated, and as deeply as the tourmaline, so that the edges of the prism are rendered indistinct. Other crystals are curved, and some perforated in the axis like the tourmaline, so as to contain other minerals. Sometimes they are articulated like the pillars of basalt, and separated at some distance by the intervening quartz. These modified forms give rise to curious speculations as to their formation and origin. If we admit the action of fire (which is improbable), then the separation may be easily explained; but if we insist that they were deposited in the wet way and by slow process, how can we account for the dislocation? "By electricity," whispers a friend—"by telluric magnetism, that wonderful unexplained and mysterious force which has caused the grand geological changes of the globe, and is still at work."

No other gem has been counterfeited with such perfection as the emerald; and in fact it is utterly impossible to distinguish the artificial from the real gems by the aid of the eye alone: even the little flaws which lull the suspicions of the inexperienced are easily produced by a dexterous blow from the mallet of the skilled artisan. Not only emeralds, but most of the gems and precious stones, are now imitated with such consummate skill as to deceive the eye, and none but experts are aware of the extent to which these fictitious gems are worn in fashionable society, for oftentimes the wearers themselves imagine that they possess the real stones. There is not one in a hundred jewelers who is acquainted with the physical properties of the gems, and very few can distinguish the diamond from the white zircon or the white topaz, the emerald from the tourmaline of similar hue, the sapphire from iolite, or the topaz from the Bohemian yellow quartz. Jewelers are governed generally by sight, which they believe to be infallible, whilst hardness and specific gravity are the only sure tests.

Artificial gems rivaling in beauty of color the most brilliant and delicately tinted of the productions of Nature are now made at Paris and in other European cities. The establishments at Septmoncel in the Jura alone employ a thousand persons, and fabulous quantities of the glittering pastes are made there and sent to all parts of the world.

A fine specimen of prase when cut affords a fair imitation of the emerald. The green fluor-spar which Haüy called "emeraude de Carthagène" may also be substituted, but the application of the file detects the trick with ease. Some of the green tourmalines approach the emeralds in hue very closely, and by artificial light it is impossible to distinguish them from each other. Fragments of quartz may be stained by being steeped in green-colored tinctures. The Greeks stained quartz so like the real gem that Pliny exclaimed against the fraud while declining to tell how it was done. The Ancona rubies at the present day are made by plunging quartz into a hot tincture of cochineal, which penetrates the minute fissures of the rock.

But notwithstanding the high art reached by modern glass-makers, they are yet far behind the ancients in imitating the emerald in point of hardness and lustre. Many emerald pastes of Roman times still extant are with difficulty distinguished from the real gem, so much harder and lustrous are they than modern glass. The ancient Phoenician remains found in the island of Sardinia by Cavalier Cara in 1856 show fine color in their enamels and glass-works. The green pigment brought home from the ruins of Thebes by Mr. Wilkinson was shown by Dr. Ure to consist of blue glass in powder, with yellow ochre and colorless glass. From Greek inscriptions dating from the period of the Peloponnesian war we learn that there were signets of colored glass among the gems in the treasury of the Parthenon.

Of all the emerald imitations that have descended to us from antiquity, none are more remarkable, none more interesting to the antiquary and historian, than the famous Sacro Catino of the cathedral of Genoa. This celebrated relic is a glass dish or patera fourteen inches in width, five inches in depth and of the richest transparent green color, though disfigured by several flaws. It was bestowed upon the republic of Genoa by the Crusaders after the capture of Caesarea in 1101, and was regarded as an equivalent for a large sum of money due from the Christian army. It was traditionally believed to have been presented to King Solomon by the queen of Sheba, and afterward preserved in the Temple, and some accounts relate that it was used by Christ at the institution of the Lord's Supper. The Genoese received it with so much veneration and faith that twelve nobles were appointed to guard it, and it was exhibited but once a year, when a priest held it up in his hand to the view of the passing throng. The state in 1319, in a time of pressing need, pawned the holy relic for twelve hundred marks of gold (two hundred thousand dollars), and redeemed it with a promptness which proved its belief in the reality of the material as well as in its sanctity. And it is also related that the Jews, during a period of fifty years, lent the republic four million francs, holding the sacred relic as a pledge of security. Seven hundred years passed away, when Napoleon came, and as he swept down over Italy, gathering her art-treasures, he ordered the "Holy Grail" to be conveyed to Paris. It was deposited in the Cabinet of Antiquities in the Imperial Library, and the mineralogists quickly discovered it to be glass. It is due to the memory of Condamine to state that he was the first to doubt the material of the Sacro Catino, for, when examining it by lamplight in 1757, in the presence of the princes Corsini, he observed none of the cracks, clouds and specks common to emeralds, but detected little bubbles of air. In 1815 the Allies ordered its return to the cathedral of Genoa. During this journey the beautiful relic was broken, but its fragments were restored by a skillful artisan, and it is now supported upon a tripod, the fragments being held together by a band of gold filigree. This remarkable object of antiquity, which is of extraordinary beauty of material and workmanship, furnishes a theme over which the antiquaries love to muse and wrangle.

Another of the antique monster emeralds, weighing twenty-nine pounds, was presented to the abbey of Reichenau near Constance by Charlemagne. Beckman has also detected this precious relic to be glass. And probably the great emerald of two pounds weight brought home from the Holy Land by one of the dukes of Austria, and now deposited in the collection at Vienna, is of the same material. The hardness of our glass is yet far inferior to that of the ancients, and even the ruby lustre of the potters of Umbria, which was so precious to the dilettanti of the Cinque Cento period, has not been recovered.

The emerald has been a subject of controversy among the chemists and mineralogists, and its character, especially the cause of its beautiful color, is not clearly defined even at the present day. But that distinguished chemist, Professor Lewy of Paris, seems to offer, thus far, the most correct and plausible theory. Ten years ago he boldly asserted that the hue is not due to the oxide of chromium, and with this opinion he confronted such eminent men as Vauquelin, Klaproth and others of high rank in the scientific world. Not content with his researches in his laboratory in Paris, he resolutely crossed the ocean and sought the emerald in its parent ledges in the lofty table-lands of New Granada. Here he obtained new information of a geological character which goes far to strengthen his position. The experiments of M. Lewy indicate, if they do not prove, that the coloring matter of the emerald is organic, and readily destroyed by heat, which would not be the case if it was due to the oxide of chromium. All my own fire-tests with the Granada emerald corroborate the views of M. Lewy, for in every instance the gem lost its hue when submitted to a red heat.

Nevertheless, the recent researches of Wöhler and Rose give negative results. These experienced chemists kept an emerald at the temperature of melted copper for an hour, and found that, although the stone had become opaque, the color was not affected. They therefore considered the oxide of chromium to be the coloring agent, without, however, denying the presence of organic matter. The amount of the oxide of chromium found by many chemists varies from one to two per cent., while Lewy and others found it in a quantity so small as to be inappreciable, and too minute to be weighed.

Before the ordinary blowpipe the emerald passes rapidly into a whitish vesicular glass, and with borax it forms a fine green glass, while its sub-species, the beryl, changes into a colorless bead: with salt of phosphorus it slowly dissolves, leaving a silicious skeleton.2

M. Lewy visited the mines at Muzo in Granada, and from the results of his analyses, together with the fact of finding emeralds in conjunction with the presence of fossil shells in the limestone in which they occur, he arrived at the conclusion that they have been formed in the wet way—deposited from a chemical solution. He also found that when extracted they are so soft and fragile that the largest and finest fragments can be reduced to powder by merely rubbing them between the fingers, and the crystals often crack and fall to pieces after being removed from the mine, apparently from loss of water. Consequently, when the emeralds are first extracted they are laid aside carefully for a few days until the water is evaporated.

This statement relative to the softness of the gem and its subsequent hardening has been met with a shout of derision from some of the gem-seekers—none louder than that of Barbot, the retired jeweler. Barbot seems to forget that the rock of which his own house in Paris is constructed undergoes the same change after being removed from the deep quarries in the catacombs under the city. This phenomenon is observed with many rocks. Flints acquire additional toughness by the evaporation of water contained in them. The steatite of St. Anthony's Falls grows harder on exposure, and other minerals when quarried from considerable depths become firmer on exposure to the action of the air. Observations of this kind led Kuhlman to investigate the cause, and he believes that the hardening of rocks is not owing solely to the evaporation of quarry-water, but that it depends upon the tendency which all earthy matters possess to undergo a spontaneous crystallization by slow dessication, which commences the moment the rock is exposed to the air.

The coloring matter of the emerald seems to be derived from the decomposition of the remains of animals who have lived in a bygone age, and whose remains are now found fossilized in the rock which forms the matrix of the gem. This rock in Granada is a black limestone, with white veins containing ammonites. Specimens of these rocks exhibiting fragments of emeralds in situ, and also ammonites, are to be seen in the mineralogical gallery of the Jardin des Plantes in Paris. Lewy believes that the beautiful tint of these gems is produced by an organic substance, which he considers to be a carburet of hydrogen, similar to that called chlorophyll, which constitutes the coloring matter of the leaves of plants; and he has shown that the emeralds of the darkest hue, which contain the greatest amount of organic matter, lose their color completely at a low red heat, and become opaque and white; while minerals and pastes which are well known to be colored by chromium, like the green garnets (the lime-chrome garnets) of Siberia, are unchanged in hue by the action of heat.

Since the time of the Spanish Conquest, New Granada has furnished the world with the most of its emeralds. The most famous mines are at Muzo, in the valley of Tunca, between the mountains of New Granada and Popayan, about seventy-five miles from Santa Fé de Bogota, where every rock, it is said, contains an emerald. At present the supply of emeralds is very limited, owing to restrictions on trade and want of capital and energy in mining operations.

Blue as well as green emeralds are found in the Cordillera of the Cubillari. The Esmeraldas mines in Equador are said to have been worked successfully at one period by the Jesuits. The Peruvians obtained many emeralds from the barren district of Atacama, and in the times of the Conquest there were quarries on the River of Emeralds near Barbacoas.

Emeralds are found in Siberia, and some of the localities may have furnished to the ancients the Scythian gems which Pliny and others mention. In the Wald district magnificent crystals have been found embedded in mica-slate. One of these—a twin-crystal, now in the Imperial Cabinet at St. Petersburg—is seven inches long, four inches broad, and weighs four and a half pounds. There is another mass in the same collection which measures fourteen inches long by twelve broad and five thick, weighing sixteen and three-quarter pounds troy. This group shows twenty crystals from a half inch to five inches long, and from one to two inches broad. They were discovered by a peasant cutting wood near the summit of the mountain. His eye was attracted by the lustrous sparkling amongst the decomposed mica and where the ground had been exposed by the uprooting of a tree by the violence of the wind. He collected a number of the crystals, and brought them to Katharineburg and showed them to M. Kokawin, who recognized them and sent them to St. Petersburg, where they were critically examined by Van Worth and pronounced to be emeralds. One of these crystals was presented by the emperor to Humboldt when he visited St. Petersburg, and it is now deposited in the Berlin collection. Quite a number of emeralds are now brought from the Siberian localities, and it is believed that enterprise and capital would produce a large supply of the gem.3

The supply of emeralds from South America is very limited, and may be ascribed to want of skillful mining, as well as to climate, the political condition of the country and the indolence of its inhabitants. The localities cannot be exhausted, for they are too numerous and extensive. The elevated regions in Granada admit of scientific exploration by Europeans, and at the present day the only emerald-mining operations conducted in South America have been prosecuted near Santa Fé de Bogota by a French company, which has paid the government fourteen thousand dollars yearly for the right of mining, all the emeralds obtained being sent to Paris to be cut by the lapidaries of that city.

In the Atacama districts, and along the banks of the River of Emeralds, the physical obstructions are difficult to overcome, and pestilential diseases of malignant character forbid the long sojourn of the European. Yet the introduction of Chinese labor may prove successful and highly remunerative, since the coolie reared among the jungles and rice-swamps of Southern China is quite as exempt from malarial fevers as the negro.

The price of the emerald has no fixed and extended scale, like that of the diamond, and the fluctuations of its value during the past three centuries form an interesting chapter in the history of gems.

In the time of Dutens (1777) the price of small stones of the first quality was one louis the carat; one and a half carats, five louis; two carats, ten louis; and beyond this weight no rule of value could be established. In De Boot's day (1600) emeralds were so plenty as to be worth only a quarter as much as the diamond. The markets were glutted with the frequent importations from Peru, and thirteen years before the above-mentioned period one vessel brought from South America two hundred and three pounds of fine emeralds, worth at the present valuation more than seven millions of dollars. At the beginning of this century, according to Caire, they were worth no more than twenty-four francs (or about five dollars) the carat, and for a long time antecedent to 1850 they were valued at only fifteen dollars the carat. Since this period they have become very rare, and their valuation has advanced enormously. In fact, the value of the emerald now exceeds that of the diamond, and is rapidly approaching the ratio fixed by Benevenuto Cellini in the middle of the sixteenth century, which rated the emerald at four times, and the ruby at eight times, the value of the diamond. Perfect stones (the emerald is exceedingly liable to flaw, the beryl is more free, and the green sapphire is rarely impaired by fissures or cracks) of one carat in weight are worth at the present day two hundred dollars in gold. Perfect gems of two carats weight will command five hundred dollars in gold, while larger stones are sold at extravagant prices.

Most of our aqua-marinas come from Brazil and Siberia, and small stones are sold at trifling prices. Some of them, however, when perfect and of fine color, command fabulous sums. The superb little beryl found at Mouzzinskaia is valued by the Russians at the enormous sum of one hundred and twenty thousand dollars, although the crystal weighs but little more than one ounce. Another rough prism preserved in the Museum at Paris, and weighing less than one hundred grains, has received the tempting offer of fifteen thousand francs.

Footnote 2: (return)

A curious result happened to the elder Silliman when experimenting with a Peruvian emerald before the compound blowpipe. The reducing flame instantly melted it into a transparent green globule. Perhaps the intense heat of this all-powerful flame, which reduces even the diamond, recalled the colors which disappear at a lower temperature. But this could not be done if the color was due to organic matter, which is annihilated or modified beyond recall by combustion.

Footnote 3: (return)

Several of the natural crystals of the Siberian emeralds of large size and beautiful color are now to be seen in the valuable and choice collections of Messrs. Clay and William S. Vaux of Philadelphia.