Can be Tested - Diamond-cutting
The diamond is one of the most popular stones in the whole range of precious minerals. It can be worn by old or young, by day or in the evening, is permissible wear in slight mourning, and has quite unrivalled beauty and brilliance. In fact, a good parure of diamonds not only adds to a woman's looks, but, in a sense, to her soc ial importance.
The diamond ranks third in value among precious gems, is composed of pure crystallised carbon, and in its chemical nature has been described as identical with charcoal. It is the most brilliant of all stones, and possesses three characteristics that place it in its unique position.
First, the diamond is the only gem which is combustible. Second, it is the hardest of all minerals. Third, it is transparent, translucent, highly phosphorescent-especially when coloured-and is a non-conductor of electricity. This gem, the hardest of all known bodies, can only be cut by means of itself in the form of fine powder; and to this fact reference is no doubt made in the well-worn proverb, " Diamond cut diamond," which everyone may not know comes from a play by John Ford, called "The Lover's Melancholy." The diamond stands at ten in the table of hardness. And this quality is proved by the fact that it readily scratches either a ruby or sapphire. But in spite of its hardness it is brittle, hence the absurdity of the test which professes to try the worth of a diamond by striking it a heavy blow on an anvil. The lustre of the diamond is peculiar to itself and hence termed adamantine.
In olden days diamonds were found only in India, and from thence were obtained most of the historic stones known to the ancients. Then Brazil came into notice as a diamond-producing country, and in recent years South Africa has yielded an immense harvest of fine diamonds. Small diamonds are found in Australia, and also in Borneo, and among other diamond localities are some parts of the United States and certain districts in the Ural Mountains. Comparisons are odious, but experts declare that diamonds from Brazil are apt to have the purest colour and greatest brilliance, and that a yellowish tinge may often be found in stones that come from South Africa. But this rule has, of course, some notable exceptions.
Among the most famous diamonds in the world are the Koh-i-noor and the Cullinan diamonds, both of which belong to the Crown jewels of England. Then there is the Orloff diamond, an Indian stone of great value, which is now mounted in the Imperial sceptre of the Emperor of Russia. The Regent is a famous stone preserved among the national jewels in Paris. The Star of the South, another splendid brilliant, was picked up by a negress in Brazil, and finally sold to the Gaekwar of Baroda for £80,000. And a noted gem, the Star of South Africa, found in the early days of South African mining, became the property of the Countess of Dudley. Then the Sancy diamond is an historic jewel, worth, it is said, over £20,000. This, after many adventures, was bought by the American millionaire, Mr. William Astor, and the stone is now worn by his beautiful daughter-in-law, Mrs. Waldorf Astor.
Society women in London are the lucky possessors of priceless diamonds. The Duchess of Portland has a splendid crown with, in front, a big, square stone known as the Portland diamond, and said to be worth over £10,000. The Duchess of Westminster wears the "Neska" diamond, a triangular gem the size of a florin, which is of immense value; and the Duchess of Sutherland has an historic crown that was worn by her beautiful predecessor, Harriet, Duchess of Sutherland, who acted as Mistress of the Robes to Queen Victoria. Among other owners of splendid diamonds are the Duchess of Roxburgh, the Duchess of Buccleuch, who wears a unique belt of brilliants, the Duchess of Wellington, and the Duchess of Marlborough; also the Marchioness of Londonderry and the Dowager Marchioness of Bute, who has a quaint diamond tiara formed of Hebrew letters which signify that a virtuous woman is a crown to her husband.
The Countess of Yarborough owns many fine diamonds, and so also do Lady Rothschild, Viscountess Iveagh, and Lady Clifford of Chudleigh. Then among notable ornaments are Viscountess Galway's tiara formed of diamond feathers; the Hon. Mrs. George Keppel's pendant, which has a beautiful pear-shaped diamond, said to be the second largest in the world; Lady Crossley's big diamond sun made of fine Brazilian diamonds; Mrs. Arthur Wilson's large diamond feather; Mrs. John Mackay's string of diamonds, which is two yards long; and last, but not least, the true lover's knot owned by the Duchess of Newcastle.
A word shall be said on the subject of head-ornaments. In days of old, crowns and high tiaras were worn only by Royal ladies, by the wives of wealthy peers, and by ambassadresses. But now tiaras, and even crowns of diamonds, are the rule and not the exception. The tiara habit is on the increase. And it is worn on all sorts of unsuitable occasions. Tiaras and crowns are in the picture at Court or at big balls in the season; but nowadays one meets them at the play, at small parties, and at dinners at hotels and restaurants. Then the modern bride expects at least a couple of tiaras among her wedding presents, and four or five are sometimes seen at the smart marriages. The story goes that a woman who had returned to London after a few years' absence said that the change which struck her most was that nowadays a girl married on £500 a year and a diamond tiara.