A number of the stones used in ancient European gemstone jewellery have defects (technically termed inclusions) which look simply dreadful to modern eyes; but before the end of the seventeenth century, when a jeweler discovered the brilliant cut, which revealed the complete magnificence of the diamond, nobody appears to get worried greatly about a gemstone?s clarity. Although stones that were relatively clear were naturally preferable, men appreciate them for their magic power, their colour or their size, as opposed to their fineness. In case a jeweler did choose to cut on a rock, he probably restricted himself to simple table-cut: that is, he sliced off one side, and place the rock with all the cut side uppermost. Very little was understood about mineralogy in pre-Renaissance days, and less about refraction and reflection of light, so tries to cut a gemstone might well be disastrous.

Polishing a gemstone, nevertheless, with powder ground down from a gemstone harder than it self was another matter. Using this method the jeweler could achieve a smooth surface, smooth edges and a uniform shape; whereas when he attempted to cut it, then he might shatter it into splinters. Polishing and engraving-another certain and tried technique that was unlikely to harm the stone-were much safer than cutting.



There were rubies out of India; garnets from Bohemi; lapis lazuli and sapphires (the latter?s name being applied to the prior ); emeralds, amethysts, beryl and aquamarine; amber, the fossilized resin of the ancient woods, which was well known and appreciated since the beginning of recorded time: turquoises and cornelians, both of the Egyptians also had gathered; jet and pearls, for which the Romans had experienced a fantastic liking: all these were stone that were relatively easy to discover, or that may be mined in rather shallow pits.

From the main there were two styles of setting for the gemstones used in ancient jewelry: the box setting and the collet. In the former, the jeweler made a little metallic box with no lid, placed the gemstone indoors, and then hammered the metal edges carefully down to hold it in place. A collet set is quite similar, but the surfaces of the box were cut down so that more of the rock could be seem, and claws were sometimes incorporated for the interest of safety. Each gemstone was individually set.

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