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for the property of phosphorescence is possessed by no other gem except the Diamond, and this only retains it for a few minutes after having been exposed to a hot sun and then immediately carried into a dark room. This singular quality must often have attracted the notice of Orientals on entering their gloomy chambers after exposure to their blazing sun, and thus have afforded sufficient foundation to the wonderful tales built upon the simple fact by their luxuriant imaginations.


Sappho: Archaic Greek. Jacinth. Augur taking the auspice*: ttru»caii. Jacinth.


It has been frequently asserted by writers on gems that the ancients were not acquainted with the true Emerald, which they pretend was unknown in Europe before the discovery of Peru, from whence in the present day the market is exclusively supplied. In spite of the vast numbers of Emeralds occurring in Indian ornaments, both in their native form and rudely cut into pear-drops and "tables," no mines of this gem are known to exist in India; and Tavernier goes so far as to assert positively that all Emeralds used in that country7 must have been imported from Peru by the way of the Plulippine Isles. But if we carefully consider facts, wo shall lie led to a very different conclusion, and shall find that the ancients were abundantly supplied not merely with the true Emerald, but also with the Green Ruby, a much harder and much rarer stone, the Smaragdus Scythicus of Pliny. We find numbers of these gems, often of great size, adorning antique pieces of jewellery made long before the discovery of America—a fact in itself sufficient to prove the previous existence of the Emerald in Europe, from whatever other region it might have been procured. Large Emeralds, Rubies, and Sapphires, all uncut, adorn the Iron Crown of Lombardy, presented to the Cathedral of Monza by Queen Theodelinda at the end of the sixth century, and which has never been altered since that period. They also appeared in the crown of King Agilulph, also of the same date, although that was probably brought to its latest and more tasteful shape by a famous goldsmith, Anguillotto Braccioforte, in the 14th century, yet still long before the discovery of Peru. They also appear in the cross of Lotharius, a work of the 9th century, and in the crown of Hungary of the 10th, both of which will be fully described in the course of this work. A good Emerald may also be seen in the tiara of Pope Julius II., who died 32 years before the conquest of Peru : this tiara is preserved among the jewels of the Louvre. Cellini also, speaking of the antique gems which he used to purchase of the country people during his residence at Rome (in which line he boasts of having carried on a very lucrative trade with the cardinals and other wealthy patrons of art of that day), mentions his having thus obtained an Emerald exquisitely engraved with a horse's head. This stone was of such fine quality that when recut "it was sold for many hundred crowns." It may here be observed that the horse's head, an attribute of Neptune, woidd be appropriately engraved upon the sea-coloured stone, and, above all, that the intaglio itself, if of the excellent work described by Cellini, must have been antique, for the art of gem engraving had only been revived in Italy a few years before his own birth, A.D. 1500.

According to Pliny, the Bactriau and Scythian Emeralds were considered the best of all, on account of their depth of colour and their freedom from flaws—" nullis major austeritas aut minus vitii." Their extreme hardness prevented their being engraved. All these characteristics united point out these gems as the Green Ruby still to be met with, though always a rare variety, among the Rubies and Sapphires of Ceylon. In fact, the stone should rather be called a Green Sapphire than a Ruby. I have seen one of large size from the Hope Collection; its colour was a very dark green, fully agreeing with the term "austeritas," and its freedom from flaws, as contrasted with another true Emerald of the same bulk, was very striking. Hardly any other gem is so liable to defects as the latter stone; even the smallest Peruvian Emerald when cut will show one or more flaws in its substance; indeed the absence of any is of itself sufficient to excite suspicion that the gem is merely a glass imitation, for no precious stone can be more exactly counterfeited by a paste. In consequence of this great liability to defects, no gem varies so much in value as the Emerald, selling at prices varying from 10«. to 31. per carat, according to its clearness and depth of colour.

The Romans derived their principal supply of the true Emerald from Egypt, from the mines in the vicinity of Coptos. Extensive traces of these workings are still to be seen on Mount Zahara, from which Sir G. Wilkinson brought away several specimens of the gem in its quartz matrix, some of which are exhibited in the Miueralogical Department of the British Museum. These are indeed of a bad pale colour and full of flaws, yet incontestably true Emeralds; however, it was not likely that a casual visitor could obtain anything but the refuse of the ancient miners, and a further working of the veins might produce stones of better quality, and equal to those Emeralds of Imperial times which we shall presently notice. Some were also obtained by the Romans from the copper-mines of Cyprus: these were the worst of all; we need not however suppose, with some theoretical mineralogists, that they were only pieces of green malachite. Pliny gives a copious list of names for gems of a green colour and of various degrees of value, so we can well afford to confine his name of "Smaragdus" to the Green Ruby and the true Emerald.5 The notion that these Cyprian Emeralds were only malachite is entirely confuted by his description, "that, they were of the colour of transparent sea-water," that is, of a light green without any depth of hue. It is said that the tomb of Hermias, a prince of that island, which stood on the coast near the tunny-fishery, was surmounted by a marble lion, the eyes of which were made of these Emeralds, and shot forth such lustre upon the sea as to scare away the fish; nor could the cause be discovered for a long time, until the gems in the eyes wrere changed. Curiously enough, a marble lion was brought to England last year from Cos, the pupils of whose eyes were very deeply hollowed out, as if for the reception of some gems of an appropriate colour. The Ethiopian Emeralds were found in a mine three days' journey distant from Coptos; they were of a brilliant green, but rarely clear or of the same shade throughout, "acriter virides sed non facile puri aut concolores." Those brought from Media were improved in hue by maceration in wine and oil; they exceeded all others in size.

''J'lio remark of Pliny that vcred at the back: its green will "those Emeralds which have a disappear when its plane is brought plane surface rclleet objects like a to a particular angle with the ray mirror" is singularly correct, and of light, and it will seem precisely attests his accurate acquaintance like a fragment of a looking-glass with the peculiar properties of this in the same position. This singem. For if a large Emerald be gular change is not observable in held so as to reflect the light, it will any other coloured stone, assume the ap))carance of being sil

I shall now proceed to describe some true Emeralds of undoubted antiquity, which have at different times come under my own notice. A hollow gold ring, the make of which betokened an early date, and which had been found in the island of Milos, was set with an Emerald retaining its native form, a portion of a prism, and rudely polished. The stone was of a beautiful colour, a bluish green, exactly corresponding to Pliny's description of the Chaleedoniaa Emerald, "like the feathers of a peacock or the neck of a pigeon;" but the stone was very tender and full of flaws. In a very choice cabinet of gems, which afterwards passed into the possession of L. Fould of Paris, were the following antique intagli on true Emeralds, some of considerable size and beauty of colour, and the work of which, as far as my own judgment goes, bears every mark of authenticity:—A bull butting with his head, very spirited, the style of the engraving of the Koman period. Busts of Hadrian and Sabina facing each other.6 A lion's head, full face, crowned with the persea, evidently intended for the type of the Egyptian lion-headed serpent, Chneph, the emblem of the sun, afterwards so favourite a device with the Gnostics. This last

'Also an excellent portrait of raid more fashionable at liome, and

Hadrian on a very fine Emerald, occasioned a more extended working

I have lately seen on this gem, and of the mines of Mount Zahara, the

one of perfect colour, another head, chief source of the supply. An ex

apparently of Sabina. It is curious traordinary intaglio of Alexandrian

so large a proportion of the intagli work of this date, a head of Jupiter,

upon so rare a material should be- surrounded by various emblems, and

long to the reign of this emperor: resting on a crocodile, from the Mer

perbaps his fondness for Egyptian tons-Schaafhausen Collection, is also

antiquities and long sojourn in that cut upon a true but pale Emerald

country may have made the Erne- of considerable size.

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