Rocks of Ages

Historic questions, thoughts and other interesting stuff

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greenland_and_game
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Rocks of Ages

Postby greenland_and_game » Fri Nov 02, 2007 3:07 pm

Being in the wonderful world of lapidarists we are often asked how we fit in with "reenactment" .Other than the fact that throughout history and herstory for that matter, rocks, gemstones and minerals all played a part as trading tokens, jewels, medicines and paint pigments.

Now I'm quite happy when a MOP comes up and asks in a rather snotty tone about the new ageness of rocks, to point them in a historical direction.

Vikes and Amber, Carnelian, Jet
Egyptians and Lapis lazuli
Tudors and Garnets and Pearls
can even squeeze in
Greeks and Onyx and Mahogany Obsidian.

But can you reenactors please give me any further "rocks of ages" please.

Would be nice to be able to say to budding 13th century newbies for example, about the kind of rocks they may or may not have carried.


Biblically we can sell you any of the 12 types of stones in the high priests breastplate.

Hildegard bingen comes into her own with 25 different stones created by Deity.

Any further snippets very gratefully received.

John
:) :)


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Postby m300572 » Fri Nov 02, 2007 3:29 pm

Iron Age Britain - Kimmeridge Shale and Jet bracelets (lathe turned)


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Postby Brother Ranulf » Fri Nov 02, 2007 5:17 pm

(fragment of) Twelfth century bracelet of Yorkshire jet, found in Oxford;
external diameter about 10 cms, internal about 7 cms with scored lines all around. Nice piece - Alexander Neckham mentions ladies wearing bracelets and this is the only archaeological evidence I have found for the period (if anyone knows of others in England, please let me know!)


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Postby m300572 » Fri Nov 02, 2007 5:25 pm

Also from the medieval archaeological contexts, occasional Early Bronze Age flint arrowheads and Neolithic axeheads - presumably found in the fields and described as 'elf shot' and thunderstones - if you kept one about your person or in the house you woldn't be abducted by fairies or struck by lightning! Not gemstones but a use of flint artefacts. The 11th C motte and bailey at Hen Domen also produced a bronze axe head from one of the road surfaces, presumably brought in for a similar reason then lost or discarded.


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Postby Brother Ranulf » Fri Nov 02, 2007 5:46 pm

*Consults notes*

(All twelfth century - it's what I do :) :) )

Jet dice from York, blue and green glass ringstones, many rock crystal and sapphire cabochons, very rare cut jemstones such as the octagonally-cut sapphire in the ring of Bishop William de Saint-Barbe of Durham (1152) - cabochons for the nobility and ranking churchmen, crowns, clothing, even shoes and furniture might be set with them.


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Postby greenland_and_game » Fri Nov 02, 2007 6:23 pm

Thanks both.

I'm trying to get some kind of timeline for stones and gems in a popularity way. So seeing Jet keep cropping up is a good stable sign.

I guess amethyst ( which isn't a recognised mineral) should go on the list too.


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Postby Neil of Ormsheim » Sat Nov 03, 2007 1:26 pm

Bishops had rings set with amythist to prevent them being poisoned/getting drunk on comunion wine. Not syre of the exact dating at to when this started but Bro. Ranulf might.......


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Postby Brother Ranulf » Sat Nov 03, 2007 2:03 pm

Sorry, can't help with the amethyst, but when considering it I remembered the "Aberdeen Bestiary", an English book of beasts (and more) from around 1190. This includes descriptions of various stones, and their properties (including firestones).
Twelve stones are described as "foundations", symbolising twelve Christian virtues. They are listed as:

1 Jasper
2 Sapphire
3 Chalcedony
4 Smaragdus (a green stone)
5 Sardonyx (black, white and red)
6 Sard (the colour of blood)
7 Chrysolite (colour of gold)
8 Beryl
9 Topaz
10 Chrysoprase (purple with gold flecks)
11 Hyacinth (changes with the weather from transparent to opaque)
12 Amethyst

Some of these seem obscure to me but may mean something to John.
Last edited by Brother Ranulf on Sat Nov 03, 2007 2:47 pm, edited 1 time in total.


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Postby Attilla the Bun » Sat Nov 03, 2007 2:11 pm

The Romans were particularly fond of natural emeralds and sapphires, which were often left in their natural crystal form and drilled to be used as beads in chain necklaces, and also garnets which were cut and used in rings and settings.

Lots of stones were engraved as intaglios, such as amethyst, rock crystal, chalcedony, carnelian, citrine and jasper, and various banded agates (and loads more!) There's an excellent collection of 70 or so intaglios from the drain at Caerleon Fortress Baths on display in the museum there, with the early ones in a variety of bright stones, often transucent, and many of the later ones in opaque dark red chalcedony.

They also adored pearls


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Postby davetmoneyer » Sat Nov 03, 2007 2:41 pm

Not forgetting the large amounts of garnet inlay in the early Anglo-Saxon brooches, pendants and buckles


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Postby greenland_and_game » Sat Nov 03, 2007 4:31 pm

Brother Ranulf,

You had my mind in melt down with your list - thanks :D

Most are easy to identify as you said but here is my stab at some of the others -

Smaragdus is either Emerald or Peridot. My money is on emerald for its history.

Sard is the old name for Carnelian.

Chrysolite is either going to be yellowish Olivine or Peridot (possibly)

Hyacinth is part of the zircon family as far as I remember, also called cinnamon stone.Not sure on its weather changing habits.

But you've stumped me with Chrysoprase. I have never seen it in any colour other than green. All shades but never purple with gold flecks.

I shall investigate further.

Thanks again for the information from everyone, it gives me the inspiration to investigate alternative avenues.

John


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Postby guthrie » Sat Nov 03, 2007 6:00 pm

Smaragda (or the variations thereof) is a word that I have seen in several palces used to refer to emeralds.

As for the amethyst I got from Greenland and game, I have succeeded in heat treating one to turn it a faint yellow. I now need to go away and soak another in a copper solution.



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Postby Lena » Sat Nov 03, 2007 7:42 pm

>Smaragdus is either Emerald or Peridot. My money is on emerald for its history.

Smaragd is the Swedish word for emerald.



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Postby greenland_and_game » Sat Nov 03, 2007 10:01 pm

Thanks for that Lena

Even more convinced now :) :)

John


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Postby greenland_and_game » Sat Nov 03, 2007 10:21 pm

Guthrie,

You now have Citrine - pale yellowish colour.

Green Amethyst is sometime called Amergreen or Green Citrine



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Postby Hinny Annie » Sat Nov 03, 2007 10:47 pm

Neil of Ormsheim wrote:Bishops had rings set with amythist to prevent them being poisoned/getting drunk on comunion wine.



Can I have a amethyst ring to help soak the wine up please :lol:


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Postby greenland_and_game » Sat Nov 03, 2007 11:04 pm

Hinny Annie wrote:
Neil of Ormsheim wrote:Bishops had rings set with amythist to prevent them being poisoned/getting drunk on comunion wine.



Can I have a amethyst ring to help soak the wine up please :lol:


You'd need one the size of a football, my love!

Keep swigging!

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Postby Lord High Everything Esle » Sat Nov 03, 2007 11:25 pm

There are lists of gems and their properties/virtues in:

A Greene Forest 1567

The Boke of Secretes, Albertus Magnus, english edition 1560

Probably the content of these have been nicked from Greek and Latin authors so no guarentee that the gems were in England at the appropriate time.

If I remember I will bring them to TORM.


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Postby Lady Cecily » Sun Nov 04, 2007 6:52 pm

One 14th century ring from York. Pearl and Garnet original on right - modern copy on left.

The garnets in the original are rather purple - not red. If you're trading at TORM you can have a closer look if I realise it's your stand I am at - or you spot ring on finger.

There is another ring set with a blue sapphire found in York as well as one set with blue glass.
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Postby lidimy » Sun Nov 04, 2007 6:55 pm

:shock: :shock: :shock: :shock: :shock:


I want my engagement ring to look like that... :oops:


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Postby greenland_and_game » Sun Nov 04, 2007 7:01 pm

Lady Cecily, yes we'll be at TORM wearing our LH mice. Please come and say hello - and bring the rings, they look lovely!


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Postby Lady Cecily » Sun Nov 04, 2007 8:16 pm

greenland&game wrote:Lady Cecily, yes we'll be at TORM wearing our LH mice. Please come and say hello - and bring the rings, they look lovely!


Alex


:D :D :D :D

I only own one of them - the other is in the care of Yorkshire Museum.


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Postby Mad Monk of Mitcham » Sun Nov 04, 2007 11:09 pm

I've been researching gem history for longer than I have been re-enacting (11 years).

Eventually I'll have the book finished (writing not reading).

The big danger with historical gem names is that the stone refered to changes over time. This is partly due to mistakes in translation, and also partly due to difficulties in gem identification - even today, new stones are being identified. Several of these were identified after they had been used for centuries - SINHALITE, TAAFTITE are two examples.

The Twelve stones in the high priest's breastplate from the bible also vary, depending on if you are using the Vulgate bible, the King James version and New Revised Edition. (I'm not sure about the Tynesley or the Wycliffe bibles - I'll have to check.)

Stones which have changed their names (sometimes several times) include Sapphirus (Sapphire) also sometimes Lapis lazuli, Adamas (Diamond) originally a natural platinum rutherium alloy, Topazius (Topaz) originally peridot. Hyacinth, carbuncle, balys, smaragdus (can be emerald but was also chrysoprase from 14th century Bohemia), chrysolite (several different stones, depending on period) etcetera.

Stones to avoid for early periods - tigers eye, labradorite, mystic topaz, aqua aura, tanzanite, charioite, sugulite, CZ!!!!! Blue topaz (its been through a nuclear reactor), blue zircon (heated in sugar), fire opal, black opal, blue lace agate. Also, historically Onyx was not a solid black stone, but a banded stone. (It should always be worn with carnelian as well). Jade is known from neolithic tools (the stone was from north Italy, but was found in LONDON), but was not used as a gemstone in Europe until the 16th century, when it was brought back from America.

There often seems to be a major diference between Lapideries, documents like wills and inventories from the period and also archological evidence. Don't get me started on museums - they rarely have a gemmologist available so will often mis-name stones on display. Now that the V and A have someone who understands gemstones examining their jewellery collection, she found that about a third (of about 4000 pieces) were incorrectly described. The BM's medieval gallery has a chrysoprase described as emerald and a tourmaline described as spinel.

I'll be at the TORM working with Richard and Tina on the "Unfound Door" stand. Come have a chat. I'm currently making a nice medieval ring with a toadstone.



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Postby nathan » Mon Nov 05, 2007 2:32 pm

Attilla the Bun wrote:The Romans ... carnelian


Big find associated with the Jeweller's hoard from Snettisham ...

http://www.britishmuseum.org/explore/highlights/highlight_objects/pe_prb/j/jewellers_hoard_from_snettisha.aspx

... very priddy.


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Postby Mad Monk of Mitcham » Mon Nov 05, 2007 6:38 pm

greenland&game wrote:Guthrie,

You now have Citrine - pale yellowish colour.

Green Amethyst is sometime called Amergreen or Green Citrine



John


The green variety of transparent quartz is called prasiolite and is the result of heating some varieties of amethyst. It is a yellow-green colour.

The "green amethyst" on the market presently is mined as a colourless quartz, irradiated and heated, and some of it goes a mint green colour.

Some of these will develop purple patches or bands if exposed to bright sunlight. (may appear brown)



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Postby guthrie » Tue Nov 06, 2007 9:40 am

Mad Monk of Mitcham wrote:
The green variety of transparent quartz is called prasiolite and is the result of heating some varieties of amethyst. It is a yellow-green colour.

The "green amethyst" on the market presently is mined as a colourless quartz, irradiated and heated, and some of it goes a mint green colour.

Some of these will develop purple patches or bands if exposed to bright sunlight. (may appear brown)

Ahh, but what is the actual heating process? I have roughly 1800 year old translations of what are effectively workshop aide-memoires, and they talk about turning certain crystals into "emeralds", the more to fool people or make nice jewellery, so the question is, what is the heating cycle?



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Postby greenland_and_game » Tue Nov 06, 2007 11:28 am

MMofM

So what has Guthrie made? Prasiolite or Green Amethyst?


as an aside -

Have you any knowledge of Chrysoprase being purple with gold flecks?
See earlier post by Brother Ranulf.

looking forward to TORM :) :)

Will be our first time as traders there and are really rather excited about the whole thing.

John :)


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Postby Brother Ranulf » Tue Nov 06, 2007 12:28 pm

I looked againat the Aberdeen Bestiary text, will not post the original Latin here but the whole passage may be significant. In translation it says:

"The tenth foundation is chrysoprase. This stone, according to Isidorus, comes from India, and is purple in colour with separate, small gold marks; for this reason it gets its name crisopassus, 'scattered everywhere with gold'. It signifies desire of the the heavenly land, which burns the more brightly, the more it is affected by tribulation, because, as Gregory says: 'What a bellows does to coal, tribulation does to love.'

Chrisoprase is placed in the tenth position, because holy men, in their desire for heaven, hasten to reach the tenth order of angels by observing the ten commandments. The tenth order is the one which will be renewed from men. In this context, man is called, in Luke, 15, the tenth piece of silver which the woman searched for and found (see 15:8-10).

India, its home, sends us the stone called chrysoprase. It shines with the sap of the leek and is of mixed colour, tinted with purple and marked with gold."

The reference towards the end to "tinted with purple" seems to contradict the earlier "purple in colour". Like many of the Bestiary contents, I guess the writer is discussing things he had never seen firsthand, so details tend to be more or less garbled.


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Postby Mad Monk of Mitcham » Tue Nov 06, 2007 12:31 pm

Guthrie wrote:
Ahh, but what is the actual heating process? I have roughly 1800 year old translations of what are effectively workshop aide-memoires, and they talk about turning certain crystals into "emeralds", the more to fool people or make nice jewellery, so the question is, what is the heating cycle?


Crystals from different localities have different properties when heated. The modern "green amethyst" is irradiated first, so unless you have access to a nuclear reactor :twisted: , you probably will struggle with this one. :lol:

I'd deffinitively like to look at your translation, it might have points which I could interpret based on my knowledge of modern gem treatments.

I have synthetic green Quartz (grown gydrothermally) but it does not look like emerald. I also have a high pressure impregnated quartz which is bright green, but that also is a poor substitute. I have an interest in synthetics and treatments, these are reference pieces, not for sale.

The classical method of turning quartz to emerald was to crush it and make it into green glass. In the 80's and 90's many people from Zimbabwe-Rhodesia (as it was then) were conned by people melting 7-up bottles and pouring the melt into a sand mould made by sticking a hexagonal re-enforcing rod into the ground. The sand stuck giving a "natural" appearance.

One guy said "but I saw them pull it out of the ground in the mine"

To which the reply was "You obviously didn't see them put it in the ground five minutes earlier!"

It is often said by gemmologists that the closer you get to the mining areas, the more synthetics / treatments / outright fakes you see. In parts of Thailand there are no intact traffic lights because the glass is smashed, pinched and sold to tourists as precious stones! Buyer beware!!!!

Greenland&game wrote:
So what has Guthrie made? Prasiolite or Green Amethyst?


Citrine, as you stated earlier.

Greenland&game wrote:
Have you any knowledge of Chrysoprase being purple with gold flecks?
See earlier post by Brother Ranulf.


Lapidairists are environmentally friendly and often re-cycle names, as shown in my previous post. It is referring to a different stone. I have theories, but am not yet ready to go into print. :D



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Postby greenland_and_game » Tue Nov 06, 2007 12:45 pm

Blessings to you both brothers :)

thats why I love my work, rock detective. :D

Looking forward to the book
Last edited by greenland_and_game on Tue Nov 06, 2007 1:09 pm, edited 1 time in total.


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