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912 Live Oak Park Rd South
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Pala International has consistently earned its reputation as the direct source for the finest colored stones.

Concerning Precious Stones

Pala Presents

Concerning Precious Stones and Jewels

Issued by Theodore A. Kohn & Son
Jewellers, New York

 

The text that follows was issued in about 1925 as noted in its catalog entry by the Richard T. Liddicoat Gemological Library at GIA. This edition consists of 45 pages; another consists of 43 pages.

 


 
Cover

A precious stone, a gem, a jewel—to-day as in the earliest times the words suggest at once beauty and color, something rare and greatly to be desired. Perhaps we no longer delight, as Aladdin did, in marble basins filled to overflowing with diamonds, rubies, sapphires, and emeralds; we recognize now that great quantities of gems are not of artistic importance, but that it is the individual stone, carefully selected, and appropriately mounted, which we rightly prize.

Since the dawn of history personal adornment has been an object of interest to all races of mankind. No tribe of savages, however rude, has failed to show a liking for some kind of decoration. When more attractive materials were not obtainable, the common objects of the wayside—shells or pebbles, berries or feathers—were put to service; but whenever jewels could be secured they surpassed in favor all other articles of ornamentation. The very word jewel, derived from the French "joie," means "joy" and "gladness," and jewels have played an important part not only in the pleasure but in the art and history of mankind. To-day, as in past ages, they are still the favorite tokens of love and esteem.

It has been well said that a gift should be as genuine as the sentiment it expresses. A fine jewel is the gift par excellence, and moreover it endures to serve as a constant reminder of the giver. Too much care and consideration cannot be bestowed on the selection of a jewel. 

As the charm of flowers is increased by artistic arrangement in vases of appropriate shape and color and material, so a precious stone should be set with due regard to design, material, and workmanship. The beauty of a stone is truly revealed by an appropriate setting.

The mounting of gems and the creation of handsome pieces of jewelry require expert knowledge. The determination of the most harmonious combinations of form and color bring into play the artistic instinct and talent of the jeweller. It is in his role as designer that the great jeweller is indeed an artist who carries on the traditions of a craft which has enlisted men with the finest sense of beauty—in the days of the Egyptians, Assyrians, and Greeks; in the Sixteenth Century with its masterpieces by Dürer, Holbein, and Cellini; and again in our own day, when the artistic attitude toward jewelry is once more in the ascendant. 

Two designs by Hans Holbein the Younger in a transnational style (Swiss, German, British), both from the "Jewellery Book." Left, a pendant in the form of the monogram "HI," set with an emerald and three drop pearls, ca. 1536–1537. Right, a pendant of a lady holding a stone atop three drop pearls, ca. 1532–1543. These images do not appear in Concerning Precious Stones and Jewels. (Images: The British Museum)

Two designs by Hans Holbein the Younger in a transnational style (Swiss, German, British), both from the "Jewellery Book." Left, a pendant in the form of the monogram "HI," set with an emerald and three drop pearls, ca. 1536–1537. Right, a pendant of a lady holding a stone atop three drop pearls, ca. 1532–1543. These images do not appear in Concerning Precious Stones and Jewels. (Images: The British Museum)

For many years the so-called commercial attitude towards jewelry prevailed. This view regarded the monetary or intrinsic value of the stones as most important. The newer attitude, while not disregarding value, nevertheless emphasizes the artistic quality of the jewel as paramount. 

The purchaser of an ornament now seeks artistic excellence of design, fine handiwork in the mounting, and suitability of the jewel to the character of the wearer. The owner, moreover, recognizes that many jewels when worn at one time diminish each other's beauty, and that the appeal of each is increased when it is chosen and worn with careful consideration of its suitability for the occasion, and its appropriateness in color and design for the particular gown. 

Although stones and materials are subordinated to design, nevertheless a charming design developed with inferior material has about it an air of false pretense. Even if the imitation is difficult of detection, the pretense deprives the owner of the satisfaction which is derived from the knowledge that a jewel is genuine. 

The layman is hardly qualified to judge genuineness. He must therefore rely very largely upon the knowledge and integrity of the jeweller. This at once suggests a relation of confidence and indicates the true role of the jeweller as a trustworthy adviser. Accurate and complete information regarding the value, genuineness, and history of individual gems is due the customer, and will be gladly offered by the dependable jeweller. 

In the mounting of diamonds, the most interesting development in recent years has been the introduction and general use of platinum. Platinum not only harmonizes in color with diamonds but it does not change or tarnish under any circumstances. 

One of the most striking evidences of good taste in jewelry is the recognition, particularly in America, of the beauty of pearls. The unobtrusiveness, the refinement, the soft lustre of the pearl is becoming to women; pearls harmonize readily with the wearer's complexion; they introduce no elements of contrast or vulgar display. 

In estimating the value of a diamond, pearl, or other gem, three principal qualities must be considered: color, brilliancy, and perfection. In the case of each gem there is a true color which is rare. Brilliancy depends upon certain structural qualities and correct cutting. Perfection is freedom from flaws or defects; but it is important to recognize that minor and especially invisible defects do not detract appreciably from the beauty of a stone which has the essential virtues of good color and brilliancy. To be sure, commercial value is directly influenced by the perfection of the stones, but stones may be genuine and of great artistic value and still contain very slight imperfections. Size and weight are less important characteristics bearing upon value. The purchaser who is unfamiliar with the technique by which value is determined must entrust the selection of gems to a jeweller of unquestioned integrity and unfailing accuracy of judgment. 

Strictly speaking the precious stones are only seven in number—the diamond, the pearl, the ruby, the sapphire, the emerald, the oriental catseye, and the alexandrite; but to these are often added the so-called semi-precious stones—such as the amethyst, the topaz, the tourmaline, the aquamarine, the chrysoprase, the peridot, the opal, the zircon, and the jade. 

The charm of precious stones lies mainly in their beauty—in brilliancy, clearness, and above all, richness of color—"the blazing red of the ruby, the angry green of the emerald, the cold blue of the sapphire, and the white hot glory of the diamond," so vividly described by Kipling in his story of the Naulahka. 

Two other qualities of precious stones, hardness and scarcity, add to their worth. To their hardness they owe their power of taking a high polish, as well as their durability; while their rarity, although a variable quality, is one of the chief elements of their value. 

Jewels have always been associated with the pomp and splendor of royalty. Magnificent collections of precious stones are the pride of great museums. Famous diamonds such as the Great Mogul and the Kohinur have won a place for themselves in history. 

Poets have always delighted in sentences studded with gems. We read in Proverbs, "A gift is as a precious stone in the eyes of him that hath it." Shakespeare's Juliet "hangs upon the cheek of night like a rich jewel in an Ethiope's ear." Milton, describing the approach of evening, says, "Now glowed the firmament with living sapphires." Browning's hillside at morning is "dew-pearled." 

And yet long association with pageantry and poetic imagination has not robbed jewels of their intimate personal character. A gem as a gift is the symbol of highest admiration. As a possession and ornament a jewel which combines the elements of beauty, genuineness, and appropriateness will be a continual satisfaction, a lasting source of pleasure.

A List of Precious and
Semi-Precious Stones and their
Characteristics 

Preceded by 

A Scale for Hardness 

The following list of stones comprises those generally used by jewellers. Their color, hardness, and sources of supply are stated. The scale for hardness which has been in use for a century or more, was devised by Professor Friedrich Mohs (1773–1839), a German mineralogist. 

Scale for Hardness

  1. TALC—very soft 
  2. GYPSUM—soft 
  3. CALCITE—low degree of hardness 
  4. FLUOR-SPAR—fairly hard 
  5. APATITE—medium hardness 
  6. FELDSPAR—scratches glass 
  7. QUARTZ—quite hard 
  8. PRECIOUS TOPAZ—very hard 
  9. CORUNDUM—hardest mineral except diamond 
  10. DIAMOND—hardest mineral

Precious and Semi-Precious Stones and Their Characteristics

Name of Gem Color Hardness Source of Supply
Alexandrite Olive Green 8.5 Russia, India
Amber Yellow 2.5 Prussia, Norway
Amethyst Purple 7. Siberia, Brazil, Uruguay, U.S.A.
Aquamarine Sea-Green 7.5 to 8 Brazil, North Carolina
Catseye Yellow, Brown, Sage Green 8.5 Ceylon, Brazil
Chrysoberyl Sage Green 8.5 Ceylon, Brazil
Chrysolite Yelowish Green 6.5 to 7 Egypt, U.S.A., Brazil
Chrysoprase Green 6. Silesia, India, U.S.A.
Coral Red, Pink, White 3.75 Sicily, Japan, Sardinia
Diamond Colorless 10. South Africa, India, Belgian Congo, British Guiana, Angola
Emerald Green 7.5 to 8 Columbia [sic], India, Egypt, North Carolina
Garnet Red 6.5 to 7.5 Bohemia, Brazil, U.S.A.
Jade Green 6.5 China, New Zealand, Turkestan, Burma
Lapis-Lazuli Blue 5 to 5.5 Afghanistan, Siberia
Opal Iridescent 5.5 to 6.5 Queensland, New South Wales, Mexico, Hungary
Pearl White 2.5 to 3.5 Ceylon, Panama, Australia, U.S.A.
Peridot Green 6.5 to 7 Egypt, Burma, Queensland, U.S.A.
Ruby Red 9. Ceylon, Burma, Siam
Sapphire Blue 9. Burma, New South Wales, Ceylon, Montana
Spinel Yellowish Red 8. Ceylon, Burma, Siam
Topaz Yellow 7. to 8. Brazil, Scotland, Spain, North Carolina
Tourmaline Pink, Green, Yellow, Blue 7. to 7.5 North Carolina, India, Brazil, Maine
Turquoise Blue 6. Persia, Egypt, New Mexico, Arizona
Zircon Brown 7.5 Ceylon, Bohemia, Germany
 

Precious and Semi-Precious Stones arranged according to their color.

Black Hematite, jet, onyx, pearl, quartz, tourmaline, opal.
Blue Aquamarine, chalcedony, lapis-lazuli, opal, sapphire, tourmaline, turquoise.
Brown Amber, agate, diamond, sardonyx, topaz, zircon.
Colorless Beryl, crystal, corundum, diamond, moonstone, quartz, tourmaline, topaz.
Green Alexandrite, amazonite, aquamarine, bloodstone, chalcedony, chrysolite, chrysoprase, corundum, chrysoberyl, emerald, jade, malachite, obsidian, opal, olivine, peridot, tourmaline.
Pink Beryl, coral, corundum, kunzite, quartz, pearl, spinel, tourmaline.
Purple Almandine, amethyst, corundum, tourmaline.
Red Agate, alexandrite, avanturine, coral, garnet, ruby, sardonyx, spinel, hyacinth, tourmaline.
White Chalcedony, coral, opal, onyx, quartz, pearl.
Yellow Amber, chrysoberyl, corundum, diamond, pearl, spinel, topaz, fire opal, zircon, chrysolite.
 

The Symbolic Significance of Precious Stones

Agate Health; longevity; wealth.
Alexandrite Undying devotion.
Amethyst Deep and pure love; prevents intoxication.
Beryl Happiness; everlasting youth.
Bloodstone Courage; wisdom.
Carnelian Prevents misfortune.
Catseye Warns of danger and trouble.
Chalcedony Disperses melancholy.
Chrysolite Gladdens the heart.
Diamond Purity; innocence.
Emerald Immortality; incorruptibility; conquers sin and trial.
Garnet Insures power and victory; fidelity.
Hyacinth Gives second sight.
Jacinth Modesty.
Jasper Courage; wisdom.
Moonstone Good luck.
Onyx Conjugal felicity.
Opal Hope; innocence; purity.
Pearl Purity; innocence.
Ruby Charity; dignity; divine power.
Sapphire Constancy; truth; virtue.
Sardonyx Conjugal happiness.
Topaz Friendship; happiness.
Turquoise Prosperity; soul cheer.
 

Natal Stones and Flowers

Month Stones Flowers
January Garnet Snow Drop
February Amethyst Primrose
March Bloodstone or Aquamarine Violet
April Diamond Daisy
May Emerald Hawthorn
June Pearl Honeysuckle
July Ruby Water Lily
August Sardonyx or Peridot Poppy
September Sapphire Morning Glory
October Opal Golden Rod
November Topaz Chrysanthemum
December Turquoise or Lapis-Lazuli Holly
 

Wedding Anniversaries

1st Paper
2nd Calico
3rd Leather
4th Books
5th Wooden
6th Garnet
7th Woolen
8th Bric-a-brac
9th Topaz
10th Tin
12th Silk and Fine Linen
15th Crystal
20th China
25th Silver
30th Pearl
35th Sapphire
40th Ruby
50th Golden
75th Diamond
 

Historic Diamonds

Polar Star 40 carats
Pigott 81 carats
Orloff 195 carats
Pasha of Egypt 40 carats
Shah of Persia 71 carats
Nassak 89 carats
Great Mogul 280 carats
Kohinur 106 carats
Sancy 53 carats
Florentine 139 carats
Regent 137 carats
Excelsior 239 carats
Star of the South 125 carats
Hope 44 carats
Cullinan 576 carats