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Diamonds-art - 1/22/10


"Diamonds - Rare and Precious" by Lady Rutilia Fausta.


NOTE: See also the files: smptuary-laws-lnks, jwlry-sup-lws-art, jewelry-msg, jewlry-storag-msg, gem-sources-msg, amber-msg, A-Lapidary-art, lapidary-msg.





This article was submitted to me by the author for inclusion in this set of files, called Stefan's Florilegium.


These files are available on the Internet at: http://www.florilegium.org


Copyright to the contents of this file remains with the author or translator.


While the author will likely give permission for this work to be reprinted in SCA type publications, please check with the author first or check for any permissions granted at the end of this file.


Thank you,

Mark S. Harris...AKA:..Stefan li Rous

stefan at florilegium.org



This article was first published in 2009 "The Tydes", the newsletter of the Barony of Lyondemere in the Kingdom of Caid.


Diamonds - Rare and Precious

by Lady Rutilia Fausta


            The last of the precious gemstones commonly used in period is the diamond. Oddly enough, it is also the least popular of the major gemstones in our period. The name diamond comes from Greek, διαμάντι, adámas (inflexible or hard) On the standard hardness scale from 1-10, with 1 being the softest (talc) and 9 being rubies/sapphires, a diamond is a 10. It is the hardest natural mineral known to man. For this reason, diamonds were not especially popular during our time period, particularly because the methods of cutting them to reveal their fire as we know today were not perfected until recently.


The faceting of stones as we know it was only developed starting in the late 14th century. Diamonds before this date were mounted uncut, as the crystal below shows. In Paris in 1355, it was stated that true diamonds should be left unpolished, so that their owners might know them for the genuine article and not crystal or glass! By the late 15th century, diamonds were faceted and often set in jewelry as shapes made up of several diamonds- fleur de lys were a popular theme, as was a shield shape.

            An 11th century gold and black diamond ring found in a muddy field by a metal detectorist.


            As with other gemstones of the period, diamonds had a mystery and power ascribed to them by their owners and wearers. Written in the 13th century, Albertus Magnus' Book of Minerals, is heavily based on the 11th century book Liber Lapidum (book of stones) by Marbodus, Bishop of Rennes. In it, Marbodus states that diamonds are invaluable to enchanters, those who wear and carry them acquire strength and power, are preserved from nightmares, ghosts and poisons, from quarrels, from their enemies, and may be cured of insanity. If a diamond should be mounted in silver, gold, or steel, and bound on the left arm, it provides the wearer protection from enemies, insanity, wild beasts, savage men, disputes, quarrels, poisons, ghosts and nightmares.



            A diamond being found, from a medieval bestiary- French, 1250-1260



            Diamonds in this time period were mostly from India and its nearby states and countries. According to Marco Polo, they came from the empire of Telingana- also known as Golconda. Mandeville wrote in 1360 that some "less good" diamonds could be found in Arabia, as well as Cyprus, though they were often colored violet or brown and 'more dim and troubled'. Diamonds were not the most valuable stone in a jeweler's arsenal until late in the 14th century, before that sapphires and rubies were the most valuable and sought after.


            Pendant, gold, balas-rubies, emeralds and a central, fancy diamond. C. 1500


            Despite what we hear from popular media, diamonds were not used as engagement rings until late in the 15th century, The first recorded recipient of a diamond engagement ring was Mary of Burgundy, in 1477, who accepted a ring from Maximilian I, the Archduke of Austria.


            Diamonds are the costliest of gemstones today, but once they were described as, "A small stone, devoid of beauty" by Saint Isidore of Seville, a 6th century archbishop. It is interesting to note that graphite (commonly known as pencil lead) is composed of the exact same thing as a diamond- pure carbon. A diamond would not be what it is without having been put through a lot of pressure, heat, and time. Even the simplest, most everyday objects, and persons, can become something amazing with the right environment.


A beautiful, natural-shaped diamond ring from the Renaissance



Copyright 2009 by Jennifer Kelly. <jen at zenofjen.com>. Permission is granted for republication in SCA-related publications, provided the author is credited.  Addresses change, but a reasonable attempt should be made to ensure that the author is notified of the publication and if possible receives a copy.


If this article is reprinted in a publication, I would appreciate a notice in the publication that you found this article in the Florilegium. I would also appreciate an email to myself, so that I can track which articles are being reprinted. Thanks. -Stefan.


<the end>


Formatting copyright © Mark S. Harris (THLord Stefan li Rous).
All other copyrights are property of the original article and message authors.

Comments to the Editor: stefan at florilegium.org