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John Stones

John Stones (born 28 May 1994) is an English professional footballer who plays as a centre-back for Premier League club Manchester City and the England national team.

Men's football
Representing England
UEFA Nations League

Stones began his career with Barnsley, making his first-team debut in the Championship in March 2012 as a 17-year-old. He joined Premier League club Everton for around £3 million in January 2013 and amassed 95 appearances over four seasons. In August 2016, he signed for Manchester City for an initial £47.5 million with add-ons. He won the Premier League in 2018, 2019 and 2021, the EFL Cup in 2018 and 2020, and the FA Cup in 2019.

Stones made his senior debut for England in May 2014 after previously being capped by England youth teams at under-19, under-20 and under-21 levels. He was chosen in England's squads for UEFA Euro 2016 and the 2018 FIFA World Cup.

Individual Baluster Molds

This new Chateau Baluster design is slimmer and lighter than our regular baluster mold and includes the following features.

  • Light weight- 35 lbs (10 lbs less than the regular baluster).
  • The size of the base is tall enough to be cut at a diagonal angle to accommodate a common stair pitch (7/11 pitch angle).
  • Slotted holes for easy hardware removal.
  • Pre drilled hole in the bottom for 3/8" re-bar.
  • New design features such as sloped edges
  • Finished casting measures 27 " x 5 1/4" x 5 1/4"
    Finished casting with the top and bottom rails is 36-37"

Finished casting measures 27 " x 5 1/4" x 5 1/4"
Finished casting with the top and bottom rails is 36-37"

Classic Style Baluster Mold

History Stones concrete baluster mold is injection molded of ABS plastic for superior strength. Two halves bolt together for easy casting and removal (hardware included).

37" Tall- (With our top and bottom rails.)

*For a smooth white finish we recommend using Portland Cement and white sand. Click the instructions tab for more information!

Finished casting measures 27 " x 6 1/4" x 6 1/4
Finished casting with the top and bottom rails is 36-37"

Tall Venetian Baluster

The Venetian baluster mold designed for commercial height 42" railings.The height of the Venetian baluster on its own is 34". Create an elegant railing with the Venetian baluster concrete mold.

Straight Rail

Quick Overview Straight Railing 2 Piece Concrete RailingMeasurements for final piece: rail mold (with rebar channel) 35 3/4" x 9 3/4" x 4" thickCap: 36" long x 10 1/4" wide.

Curved Rail 2 Piece Concrete Mold

Quick Overview Curved rail two piece concrete mold set is made of .125 ABS plastic, strong enough for multiple use. Measurements: curved railing (with rebar channel) 39" x 10 1/4".

Straight Rail Base

Add this reusable mold to any of our straight rail sets to pour more in one day. Each set of straight railing uses this mold on the top and the.

Curved Rail Rebar Chanel

Quick Overview Add this reusable mold to any of our curved rail sets to pour more in one day. Each set of curved railing uses this mold on the top.

Corner Railing 2 Piece Mold Set

Quick Overview Corner Mold for Concrete Railing SystemCast concrete pieces will measure 15 1/2 inches x 15 1/2 inches by 4" Made of .125 ABS Plastic for durable use

Decorative 3 Piece Newel Post Set

Quick Overview Newel Post Three Piece Mold SetNewel Post Face Mold, 37 1/2" x 12" x 2" .125 (1/8") ABS PlasticNewel Post Side Mold, 37 1/2" x 8" x 2".

Classic Newel Post 3 Piece Set

*One classic newel post face

Classic Newel Post Face Mold, 37 1/2" x 12" x 2" .125 (1/8") ABS Plastic

Newel Post Side Mold, 37 1/2" x 8" x 2" .125 (1/8") ABS Plastic

Pier Cap Mold, 14" x 14" x 5" .060" (1/16") ABS Plastic

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Stones - History

Newest Hit Makers
The Rolling Stones

The Rolling Stones, Now!

Big Hits
(High Tide and Green Grass)


Got Live If You Want It

Between the Buttons

Their Satanic Majesties Request

Through the Past, Darkly
(Big Hits Vol. 2)

*More Hot Rocks
Big Hits & Fazed Cookies (London)

Singles Collection - The London Years (Abkco)

Rolling Stones Rock And Roll Circus

The Rolling Stones History

Formed in 1962, The Rolling Stones have become one of the world's most recognized and enduring bands. Mick Jagger and Keith Richards first crossed paths at Dartford Maypole County Primary School. A decade later the two had become avid fans of blues and American R&B, and shared a mutual friend in musician Dick Taylor. Jagger and Taylor were jamming together in Little Boy Blue and the Blue Boys. Richards would soon join the group and become expelled from Dartford Technical College for truancy.

Meanwhile in another part of town. . . .Cheltenham's Brian Jones had begun a career in truancy to practice the sax. By the time Jones had reached sixteen, the future Stone had fathered two illegitimate children and skipped town to Scandinavia, where he began to pick up guitar. Jones eventually drifted to London where he spent some time with Alexis Korner's Blues, Inc., then made the move to start up his own band. While working at the Ealing Blues Club with a loose version of Blues, Inc. and drummer Charlie Watts, Jones began jamming with Jagger and Richards on the side. Jagger would front the new band.

Jones, Jagger and Richards, along with drummer Tony Chapman, cut a demo tape that was rejected by EMI. Chapman left the band shortly after to attend Art College. By this time Blues, Inc. had changed their name to the Rolling Stones, after a Muddy Waters song.

The Rolling Stones' first show occurred on July 12, 1962 at the Marquee. In January of 1963, after a series of personnel changes, Bill Wyman and Charlie Watts rounded out the Stones' line-up.

A local entrepreneur, Giorgio Gomelsky, booked the group for an eight month stint at his Crawdaddy Club. The highly successful run at the Crawdaddy attracted the attention of manager Andrew Loog Oldham, who signed them as clients. With the Beatles quickly becoming a sensation, Oldham decided to market the Stones as their wicked opposites.

In June of 1963, the Stones released their first single, a Chuck Berry tune, "Come On." The group performed on the British TV show "Thank Your Lucky Stars," where the producer told Oldham to get rid of "that vile-looking singer with the tire-tread lips." The single reached #21 on the British charts.

After proving themselves with a series of chart topping hits, Jagger and Richards began writing their own songs using the pseudonym "Nanker Phelge." "Tell Me (You're Coming Back)" became the band's first U.S. Top Forty hit. January of 1965 was the year the Stones broke another # 1 in the U.K. with "The Last Time" and broke the top ten in the U.S. with the same tune. The band's next single, "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction," held the # 1 spot for four weeks and went on to become probably their most famous.

The Stones released their first album of all-original material in 1966 with "Aftermath." The impact of the release was dulled, due in part, to the simultaneous release of the Beatles' "Revolver" and Bob Dylan's "Blonde on Blonde" - a good year for rock and roll. The following year, the Stones were back in the limelight when the group performed "Let's Spend The Night Together" on the "Ed Sullivan Show." Amid threats of censorship, Jagger mumbled the title lines of the song. Some claim Jagger sang "Let's Spend Some Time Together."

With the release of the Beatles' "Sgt. Pepper," it seemed every band began to gauge themselves against the landmark recording - including the Stones. In December of '67, the Stones released "Their Satanic Majesties Request" - panned as an "ambitious mess."

The following year the Stones went back to their roots with the release of "Jumping Jack Flash." The song landed them a # 3 hit. "Beggar's Banquet" was hailed as the band's finest achievement.

On June 9, 1969, Brian Jones announced he was leaving the group saying: "I no longer see eye to eye with the others over the discs we are cutting." Within a week, Jones was replaced by Mick Taylor (ex-John Mayall guitarist). Plans Jones had made to start his own band were cut short when on July 3, 1969, he was found dead in his swimming pool. After the death, at a concert in London's Hyde Park, Jagger read an excerpt from a poem by Shelley and released thousands of butterflies over the park.

More tragedy was about to strike the group when the Stones gave a free "thank-you America" concert at California's Altmont Speedway. A young black fan, Merideth Hunter, was stabbed to death by members of the Hell's Angels motor cycle gang. The Stones had hired the gang - on the advice of the Grateful Dead - as security for the event. The murder was captured on film by the Maysles brothers in their documentary "Gimmie Shelter." As a result of public outcry, "Sympathy for the Devil" was dropped from the set-list for the next six years. The band had actually been playing "Under My Thumb" when the murder occurred.

In 1970, the Stones formed their own record label - Rolling Stones Records and released "Sticky Fingers," which reached # 1 in 1971. The album also introduced fans to the Andy Warhol designed "lips and lolling tongue logo." That same year Jagger married Nicaraguan fashion model Bianca Perez Morena de Macias.

After the release of "Goats Head Soup," Mick Taylor left the group and was replaced by Faces guitarist Ron Wood . The Stones had auditioned a number of top session men, many of whom appeared on the "Black and Blue" LP, after which the group chose Wood. After settling commitments Wood still had with Rod Stewart and the Faces, he officially joined the Stones in 1976.

In March, 1977, Richards and his common-law wife, Anita Pallenberg were arrested in Canada for possession of heroin. The arrest jeopardized the future of the Stones - but Richards was given a suspended sentence and subsequently kicked his habit in 1978.

One of the Stones' busiest years came in 1981 with the release of "Tattoo You." The album cruised at # 1 for nine weeks and produced such Stones classics as "Start Me Up" and "Waiting On a Friend." The tour for the album produced a live album, "Still Life," and a concert film - Hal Ashby's "Let's Spend the Night Together."

The eighties began to take their toll on the group after a series of less than phenomenal releases. Though each of the group's next two releases, "Undercover" and "Dirty Work," featured one Top Twenty hit, the group was beginning to do little more than go through the motions. The relationship between Jagger and Richards began to drift and the group would not see a studio for the next three years. During this time, Jagger released his 1984 solo album, "She's the Boss," which earned the singer platinum success. His next effort, "Primitive Cool" in 1987, didn't even break the Top 40. It was at this point that Richards, who had long stated that he would never make the solo leap and resented Jagger for making albums outside of the Stones, released 1988's "Talk is Cheap." The feud was on. Jagger and Richards took shots at each other in the press and in song. Richards' single "You Don't Move Me," was aimed at his longtime songwriting partner.

The antidote came when the songwriters traveled to Barbados to begin work on a new Rolling Stones album. The result would be the critically acclaimed "Steel Wheels" in 1989. The success of the "Steel Wheels" tour spawned the group's fifth live album, capturing the spirit of the Rolling Stones which many had believed was gone.

Nearly three decades after the group was formed, the Stones forged ahead into the nineties. The early half of the nineties saw Stones solo albums from Richards and Jagger, but it was apparent that fans were more interested in the two artists as a team.

In '94, two years after bassist Bill Wyman's departure, the group released "Voodoo Lounge." The critically hailed album was the first under the group's new multi-million dollar deal with Virgin Records. The deal also gave Virgin the rights to some of the Stones most well known works including "Exile on Main Street," "Sticky Fingers," and Some Girls." The album won the Stones a 1994 Grammy Award for Best Album.

In 1996, the group released "The Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus." The film brought together bands like the Who, Jethro Tull, Taj Mahal John Lennon, Eric Clapton, Mitch Mitchell of the Jimi Hendrix Experience, Marianne Faithful and of course the Rolling Stones. Recorded over two days in December, 1968, the film was kept in the archives because the Stones felt their performance left much to be desired - especially after the show the Who had put on. Nevertheless, the Stones "Circus" is an important document as well as a window to a time when, as the liner notes proclaim, "for a brief moment it seemed that rock 'n' roll would inherit the earth" - David Dalton, 1995.

Source: The Rolling Stone Encyclopedia of Rock And Roll

In 1997 The Stones released Bridges To Babylon & embarked on another extremely successful world tour, which came to an end in September 1998. In November 1998 we saw the release of yet another live Stones album, entitled No Security. Then, in January 1999 the Stones began yet another tour in Oakland, California, which is set to take them across the US playing arena sized venues & eventually land them back in Europe in May 1999. In June 1999 they will finally play the UK (Edinburgh, Sheffield & London), shows that were cancelled on the B2B Tour due to Britain's tax laws. So, as you can see, 37 years after the band began they are still going strong & without a doubt will continue to roll right into the Millenium!

Information on this site is for information purposes only. Nothing on this site is to be construed as an endorsement by any celebrity or personality, unless explicitly identified, for this site or for any information here. This site is in no way affiliated with The Rolling Stones. It is a fan appreciation site.

The Despicable History of Roger Stone

After a half-century of dirty tricks, there’s finally the case of United States versus Roger Jason Stone, Jr.

Michael Daly

The standard FBI booking form filled out after Roger Stone’s arrest included a notation of any “scars, marks, tattoos,” in his case a large portrait of a smiling Richard Nixon etched on his back.

The visage between 66-year-old Stone’s shoulder blades attests to his role nearly a half-century ago as a junior participant in the dirty tricks that eventually led to the Watergate scandal and Nixon’s resignation.

A description of the tattoo now became part of the official record of his arrest stemming from his alleged role as a senior participant in dirty tricks on behalf of the current president, who increasingly seems to be in serious trouble.

“This is definitely getting much closer to home for the president and his people,” said a longtime FBI supervisor who is not involved in the investigation but has been following the developments with an experienced eye.

Stone was in handcuffs secured with a belt at the waist when he was brought into courtroom 203D in Fort Lauderdale Federal Court. The Clerk called Case 6039 of 2019.

“United States versus Roger Jason Stone, Jr.”

The magistrate, Judge Lurana Snow, read aloud the charges: witness tampering, obstruction, and five counts of making false statements. Stone was released on on $250,000 bail and raised his unshackled hands as he stood outside the courthouse in a polo shirt and jeans. He extended both arms and flashed a double “V” sign, just as Nixon often had, most famously as the disgraced president boarded the Marine helicopter that was to fly him away from the White House for the last time after his resignation.

“We've got your back, Roger!” a supporter called out, the exclamation taking on an added meaning if you considered Stone’s tattoo.

Via Netflix

Stone had once said that “pro-Americanism” was “a common thread” connecting Nixon and Trump and therefore him. But the more recent dirty tricks in which Stone allegedly played a part are said to include Russian hackers delegated by Vladimir Putin to influence the U.S.presidential election. One epithet shouted by someone in the crowd outside courthouse one Friday would not have fit Watergate, but may end up proving appropriate for the present scandal.

The FBI had already begun a file on Stone back when he was 20, concerning his activities at the time of Watergate. But his first venture into political dirty tricks had predated that by a dozen years, and actually was directed at Nixon. Eight-year-old Roger had heeded his Catholic upbringing in 1960 and supported John F. Kennedy in a mock presidential election at his grammar school. Little Roger sought to improve the odds by going down the lunch line, telling classmates that Nixon had come out in favor of school on Saturday.

His Republican upbringing asserted itself when he arrived at George Washington University and he became chairman of the D.C. College Republicans. FBI File #139-301 — later made public by Property of the People via a Freedom of Information request — reports that in a subsequent interview with agents at the New York field office Stone reported that his activities with the College Republican led to him meeting Bart Porter, then in charge of scheduling at the Committee for the Reelection of the President (CRP.) Porter asked Stone on several occasions to engage in legitimate campaign activities.

“Such matters as crowd-raising, leafleting, and organizing support for President Nixon,” the FBI notes.

Then came a day in the spring of 1972 when Porter asked Stone to travel to Manchester, New Hampshire and plant fake leaflets at McGovern campaign headquarters and at the Manchester Union Leader. The yellow colored papers were purportedly from the fictitious Committee for a New Democratic Coalition and advised that Edmund Muskie was”the candidate of the conservative Democrats.”

Stone immediately accepted an opportunity to practice dirty tricks beyond a grammar school cafeteria. He did as bid, receiving money to cover his expenses but not for his efforts.

“Upon his return to Washington, DC., Stone immediately telephoned Porter to advise him that he had accomplished” that job, the FBI file notes. “Porter indicated that he would recontact Stone in the future.”

A fortnight later, Porter phoned Stone at his dorm and invited him to come to the CRP office. Porter there asked him if he would be willing to return to Manchester, this time to make a cash contribution at the headquarters of Rep. Pete McCloskey, a California republican who was challenging Nixon in the New Hampshire primary.

“Porter wanted Stone to disguise himself as a member of the Gay Liberation Movement when making this contribution,” the FBI file says. “Stone flatly rejected this proposal.”

The file continues, “However, he concurred with the basic theme of this tactic and this suggested that the contribution be made in the name of the Young Socialist Alliance (YSA). Porter adopted Stone’s suggestion and told Stone that he would secure stationery with the letterhead of the YSA.”

Ira Schwarz/AP/REX/Shutterstock

Several days later, Porter again summoned Stone to CRP and presented him with what the FBI file describes as “five pieces of white stationery which bore the blue letterhead ‘YSA. Amherst College.’” Porter also presented Stone with $125 in cash, instructing him to convert it into single bills and coins, make the contribution at McCloskey headquarters and get a receipt on the YSA stationary.

“Porter instructed Stone to dress in dungarees and a sweater in order to insure the impression of being a student,” the file says.

Stone proceeded to a bank near CRP headquarters and followed Porter's instructions. He placed the bill and coins in a large jar with a green top that he found at home.

The following day, Stone walked into McCloskey headquarters in Manchester and identified himself as the treasurer of the Amherst chapter of YSA.

“He then made the contribution of $125 contained in the hat which he had been carrying in a duffel bag,” the file reports. “He obtained a receipt which read ‘Received from YDSA, Amherst College, $125.”

That same day, Stone returned to Washington, D.C. He went to Porter’s office the following morning and handed him the receipt. Porter handed Stone a yellow legal pad.

“Porter then instructed Stone to write a letter to the Manchester Union Leader which states, in essence, that the writer of the letter was a student at Amherst College and that he understood that McCloskey had accepted a contribution from YSA. The letter stated that he was appalled that McCloskey would accept a gift from such an organization.”

Porter said he would handle mailing the letter.

He contacted Stone again later that spring, saying CRP was looking for somebody to travel to various states that were holding primaries and gather intelligence.

“In addition Porter wanted this individual to be capable of doing sophisticated political pranks which would have the effect of disrupting the election campaigns for political opponents,” the file says. “Stone told Porter that he would take this matter into consideration and contact him.”

Stone asked around and learned of a man named Mike McMinoway, who was working at a General Motors plant in Kentucky. Stone consulted with Porter, who advised him to approach McMinoway using an assumed name and pretending to represent a group of conservative businessmen who wanted to collect information and sabotage liberal democratic candidates.

“Porter instructed that Stone make this initial contact with McMinoway on a public pay telephone,” the file says.

Stone again did as bid and met with McMinoway at a hotel near the Louisville Airport.

Stone was to pay McMinoway $1,000 a month plus expenses. McMinoway was given the code name “Sedan Chair II,” an earlier CRP mole having been Sedan Chair I.

The file reports that in the Wisconsin primary, McMinoway sent engraved invitations to 200 Democrats to attend a non-existent campaign breakfast with Hubert Humphrey.

In the California primary, McMinoway jumbled the lists of potential voters so that many were never contacted and others were contacted enough times to be annoyed.

McMinoway also infiltrated campaigns in Florida, Wisconsin and California.

“He finished his tour as a volunteer for McGovern in Washington, D,C. in August, 1972,” the file notes.

In the meantime, the burglary at the Watergate had become big news. Porter was in California and Stone was tending his dog in Washington two days later when the phone rang. The caller asked for Porter and said he was Jim McCord. Stone said Porter was out of town . McCord said he would call back, adding that he would not leave a number because he was “in lockup.”

Stone understood that this must be the Jim McCord who had been arrested as one of the Watergate burglars. He managed to track Porter down in California.

“Porter asked him to recount [the] call two or three times and then told Stone it was a prank call in his opinion,” FBI papers report.

The following month, Porter called Stone to say that he would be receiving a money order for $16,050 from a California businessman named Darius Keaton. Stone picked up the money order at Western Union later that day and took it directly to Porter.

“Porter did not explain and Stone did not question,” the FBI file says.

When the Watergate scandal broke, Porter was sent to prison for lying to the FBI. Stone’s interviews with the FBI were reported in the file. He was not accused of any law-breaking, though he was subsequently fired from his new job with Sen. Robert Dole’s re-election campaign when it became known that he was involved in planting a mole during presidential primaries.

The 1980 Reagan campaign was less discerning, and Stone became the Northeast coordinator. He sought assistance from Roy Cohn, onetime right hand man to Sen. Joe McCarthy during the commie witch hunt days. Cohn was now a New York City powerbroker, and Fat Tony Salerno of the Genovese crime family was sitting in his office when Stone came to see him.

Stone said he needed money and office space. Cohn sent him to see Donald Trump, who took him out to Avenue Z in Brooklyn to meet with his father. Fred Trump is said to have given Stone $200,000 in checks, each for the $1,000 maximum campaign contribution then allowed from an individual. Fred arranged for the Reagan campaign to use an empty space next to the famed 21 Club.

As Stone would later tell it, Cohn presented him with a suitcase of cash that he then took to a prominent member of the Liberal Party, which subsequently decided to nominate John Anderson rather than support Jimmy Carter. This third entry into the race took enough votes away from Carter for Reagan to carry the state with just 46 percent of the vote.

Stone sought to cash in on his new White House connections by starting a lobbying firm with none other than Paul Manafort. Stone remained close to Trump and jumped right in when The Donald decided to run for president in 1987 as a way to publicize his upcoming book, The Art of the Deal.

The idea had been sparked by a political activist in New Hampshire who started a Draft Trump movement. Trump agreed to go there to give a speech and the activist was astonished to see how many people showed up to welcome his candidate’s arriving helicopter. An even bigger crowd packed the hall where Trump gave a speech in which he blasted Reagan in nearly identical words to those he would later use to blast Barack Obama. The crowds at the landing and at the speech had both been hired to attend by Stone, who discreetly remained in the helicopter.

In 2000, Trump enlisted Stone to help him form a supposed pro-family, anti-gambling group to challenge an effort by the St Regis Tribe of the Mohawk Indians to open a casino at the Monticello racetrack in Upstate New York. Trump was worried that the Mohawk casino would draw business away from his already struggling casinos in Atlantic City.

The St. Regis Mohawks should hold a special place in the heart of any big-time New York real estate developer, as the tribe provided many of the ironworkers who built the city’s skyscrapers. Trump paid for Stone to produce ads on television, radio and newspapers in the name of the supposedly grassroots New York Institute of Law and Society. The ads warned darkly that the Mohawks would bring crime and drugs—much as Trump would later warn about undocumented immigrants.

One ad paid for by the casino king of Atlantic City said: “Casino gambling stinks. It brings increased crime, bankruptcy, broken homes, divorce and in the case of Indian gambling, violence.”

Daniel Hulshizer/AP/REX/Shutterstock

New York State set up a Temporary Commission on Lobbying to investigate. Trump responded to written questions, saying, "I understood Roger Stone’s idea that the Institute was a more credible voice than a casino company’s.”

Trump was fined $250,000 for violating state laws regarding disclosure by lobbyists. The commission further required Trump and Stone to offer a public apology in the same outlets.

“Donald Trump [and] Roger Stone. apologize if anyone was misled concerning the production and funding of the lobbying effort,” the ad said.

The most recent caper involving Stone and Trump is not likely to be resolved with a fine or an apology. Stone was given an abrupt sense of that when FBI agents appeared at his door early Friday morning. They had been sent by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who has spent the past decades engaged not in dirty tricks and hustles, but in demonstrating the ultimate power of courage, integrity, diligence and discipline. Mueller did this as a decorated Marine officer in Vietnam and as a homicide prosecutor in the District of Columbia and as director of the FBI and now as the person in charges of the investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election.

After he was brought before a magistrate as the sixth Trump associate charged in the Mueller investigation, Stone nonetheless emerged from the courthouse full of bluster and flashing the victory sign of the disgraced president whose face is tattooed on his back.

But that tattoo is now recorded on an FBI booking sheet just as a tattoo, scar or marks on any accused criminal would be. The sheet goes in the FBI records along with File # NY 139-301 from a half-century before, which seemed like no time at all when he raised his arms and flashed those two Vs.

The History of Lapidary

Gem cutting, or lapidary, most certainly got its start as an offshoot of mundane everyday activities. A stone may have fallen into a fire where the heat caused it to break or flake. Perhaps a sharp edge resulted. Certainly, flint and other hard stone possess sharp edges, but a blade-like cutting edge on a newly flaked piece of rock suggested some very interesting possibilities.

In prehistoric times, man hammered tools from stone, presumably smacking one stone against another. He scratched and chiseled out symbols and primitive writings on hard rock and cave walls – and gradually learned the great secret: some stones are harder than others and therefore they are more capable of inflicting scratches on other less hard stones.

From this very basic understanding, drilling and bruting became possible.

Drilling, one of the first of the lapidary arts, traces its roots back almost 1,000,000 years ago. Primitive peoples learned that rocks could be broken or fractured. The breakage provided random fragments, but ultimately experimentation demonstrated that breakage could also be achieved with some semblance of control.

This same knowledge of relative hardness led to bruting, the shaping of a gem specimen by rubbing one mineral against another harder mineral. The slow and tedious practice of bruting was used for centuries until more refined techniques were introduced.

Given the early date, historians are reluctant to attribute anything quite so intellectual as an understanding of cleavages. It was satisfactory that the breaking, chipping, or flaking of a stone could be disciplined…made to occur in desired directions and depth.

Later perhaps, someone viewed these same stone fragments from a more abstract perspective. They viewed the unusual configuration, texture, or coloring of a piece of stone or mineral crystal, and began to contemplate the possible alterations of a stone for artistic or adornment purposes.

River Rolling Produces a Smooth Finish

River Rolling Produces a Smooth Finish

No doubt, too, man compared the smooth, river and stream rolled stones with those found elsewhere. Even here, it required no great stretch of thinking to conclude that something was exerting a smoothing or polishing effect on certain stones. Could it be other mineral particles in the river working to complement the action of the constantly running water? From such questions, the advance to a rubbing paste of water and sand was virtually inevitable.

Whether many of these later discoveries broke in the Paleo or Neolithic, (early or late Stone Age,) is of little consequence. What is known is that man used the new found phenomena in anticipation of the many tools and pieces of equipment of succeeding years.

By 3,000 B. C., man had developed his lapidary skills to such a level that cylinders made of serpentine, were commonplace. The Scanning Electron Microscope has analyzed many seals of the early Bronze Age that were uncovered in ancient Mesopotamia. Showing remarkable skill and tool control by the gemcutters, these seals were often shaped to form a flat or convex seal face with a raised perforated handle on the back.

Highly valued, the seals were worn as amulets that could be removed quickly and pressed into a clay tablet. They were the mark of early man as each seal was an individual creation, made exclusively for its owner.

Pre-Colombian Jade – Zapotec Culture c. 200 BC to 1500

Old Tools Show Age of Lapidary

The existence of these ancient artifacts proves how old the art of lapidary is. The artifacts demonstrate that lapidaries had conquered the challenges of sawing, chipping, drilling, polishing and faceting before the time of Christ. The work was rudimentary by todays standards but the principals upon which this work was performed are still with us.

The use of jade and jade look-alikes were prevalent. Materials like serpentine only look like jade, but the real value lies in the lapidary skill lavished on the original rough.

Centuries before Christ, the Chinese knew how to work the tough green material they called yu and which we call jade. It was also a sacred stone to the Aztecs of North America as well as the Maoris of New Zealand. The tribes of the Swiss Lake District also worked jade.

To be sure, pre-Columbian beads of Mexico and South America were crudely worked samples of jade, but some of the more advanced cultures of ancient Mexico worked the material into incredibly intricate and complex carvings. Where available, other forms of jade were also used extensively. These other similar appearing by non-jade types included serpentine, prehnite, and aventurine.

Naturally, the various kinds of quartz found quick favor among stone workers. They represented an explosion of varied, rich colors and, although their hardness made them a more difficult to work than the softer stones, many different cultures sought them not for their lush cosmetic values but for mystic purposes as well.

The faceted gems of today are incredible optical performers. It has always been that way. For example, the marvelous translucency and transparency of the crystalline quartzes ranged from carnelian, sardonyx, agate, amethyst to rock crystal. The early Chinese, Japanese, Grecian, and Mycenaean peoples found quartz a marvelous mineral for gemcutting, as did the craftsmen of India and Scotland.

Amber Still Considered Earliest Gem Materials

Amber is undoubtedly one of the earliest stones to be used in jewelry. It is lightweight, easily drilled, and features a pleasing warm color. It was also found floating in numerous parts of the world in fairly large pieces.

Such folk work comes from the Orient, Morocco, Afghanistan, and, of course, the Baltic countries. Used mostly in necklaces, many of the beads are large, hand-shaped spheres or ovals.

Turquoise has a long history in jewelry. The Egyptians of the earliest dynasties focused great attention on this sky-blue stone, often grinding lit into a powder form to provide a unique blue eye shadowing.

It was a highly prized gem of the Mexican cultures, and the Persians and Tibetans used turquoise extensively. Some Germanic people used it as a betrothal stone. Among the American Indians, it was the principal stone. In almost all instances, the workings were those of cabochon cutters, carvers and sculptors who specialized in representational art.

A relatively soft stone, turquoise was easily worked and could quickly be buffed to a nice polished finish with a mixture of sand and water. Sometimes it was worked in a nugget form and other times it was shaped. Used alone or in combination with shell, coral and other soft materials, turquoise has continued in great popularity even up to contemporary times. Coral, incidentally, is usually vivid in color and easy to shape so it naturally became famous in Tibet, China, India, northern Africa, and the American Indians.

Other stones that found early use among gemcutters were meerschaum, jet and lignite, soapstone, lapis lazuli, and malachite. Where volcanic action was evident, obsidian was also used. It is a medium soft stone, but gemcutters quickly found that quartz pieces and flint could be used to shape it. Obsidian was valued among the Stone Age artisans and then later by Aztecs, Mayans, and Indian tribes of the WesternU. S.

Glass, Too, Has Long Lapidary History

As a matter of fact, in 5,000 B. C. the Zadim, (stone workers,) of Sumeria were even making and working with an early form of glass. Not so surprising is the fact that the initial use of glass was to serve as an imitation gemstone.

Later, the Egyptians were to be given false credit for the development of glass or faience, (fah-yahnse’). It is pretty much established now that the real discovery of this glazed terra cotta ceramic ware, with its colored decorations, took place farther East and was brought to Egypt by Sumerian merchants.

Even farther east in Cambay, (in Western India’s GujaratState,) bead making has progressed to a fine art. Factories there were producing a variety of beads made from siliceous stones that are even today marketed all over the world.

Artisans of the Bronze and Classical Age, especially those who carved Greek seal stones, used techniques that were enormously time consuming. It was their habit to cut small chunks from large local blocks. Obsidian served as the sawing agent, the chunks were shaped with Naxian emery, and then apparently given a final polish with other corundum powders made into a watery paste.

Bead and Sphere Cutting in Early India

Indian literature dated about 2300 B.C. refers to manikyam. Because mani is a term to describe a sphere or bead it appears that some form of gem cutting was practiced that early.

Bapu Majajan, a contemporary Indian gemologist and Fellow of the Gemmological Association of Great Britain, feels that these and later references, (about 400 B.C.,) to gemstones in India show that gem cutting, including a rude form of faceting, had its origins in that country.

It goes without saying that the more famous transparent gems, ruby, sapphire, spinel, emerald and garnet, appeared in many different forms all the work of advanced gemcutters.

These gems all appear in early jewelry of India, Burma, Sri Lanka, (Ceylon), Persia, (Iran.) They were mostly cut, (or rather polished,) as the natural “Point” shown here. Rubies, because they were treasured above all other gems, have been found mounted in their natural shape while others have been faceted and cut cabochon.

Faceting Advances From Islamic Period

It is not well known, but many of the advances in faceting can be attributed to the Islamic Period. In what is now eastern Iran, gemcutters had developed great skills in polyhedral faceting, (11th c. Nishapur,) as well as exporting cutting skills which produced such great traditions as the rock formed crystals of Fatima, Egypt (9-12 c.,) jades and other hard stones of Mughal, India. Keep in mind that a number of technological developments were necessary before a breakthrough in diamond cutting became possible. The diamond’s own incredible hardness and grain directions made it difficult to work with.

There existed, too, a decided shortage of cutting equipment save a few hand tools. Lapidaries much preferred the stones softer then diamond, including ruby, sapphire, quartz, and emerald.

Europeans Brought Discipline to Gemcutting

The practice of cutting gemstones to a specific configuration along with the refinements of development of diamond-cutting techniques, were established in Europe. The techniques of diamond splitting, done to obtain natural octahedral forms of the crystal, was known in Gaul and Germany. By about 1380, a method of true diamond cutting was practiced in France.

The diamond point is simply the eight natural facets of the crystal. Diamonds occur naturally in this habit, or a bit of judicious splitting, or cleaving, will easily achieve the same thing.

One of the problems with these early diamonds was that the unmodified bottom, (called the pavilion,) was deep. The result was that rings rose too high on the wearer’s fingers.

In the latter half of the 16th Century, the only regular forms of cut diamonds were the so-called diamond point and diamond table, both shapes being based on the octahedron. For the most part, these were small stones used as accents to complement large, colored, cabochon-cut stones.

The diamond table cut would not have been all that difficult for the ancients to figure out. On an octahedron, the apex represents a four-point cutting orientation so no matter which way the octahedron was pointed, diamond grit would have successfully ground away the tip to a rude table facet.

Bruting was Likely the Earliest Method

In the earlies stages, the method of grinding was simply to rub one crystal face against the other, a process called bruting. Indeed, many diamond cutters of the time had a small box beneath their manipulations. This was called a bruter’s box and its primary purpose was to catch the rubbings, or diamond dust, given off by the constant rubbing.

This dust was then used in the polishing process, its grit being so tiny as to effectively remove the larger scratches. The diamond table was produced by grinding across one of the pyramidal apexes of the octahedron. The facet thus formed was usually about half the width of the central square section.

Inspection of old diamond table cuts shows that the cutters brought the table in as square as possible with just a table cut. Occasionally, the sides of the crown were slightly modified to improve the right angles to one another.

Culet Facet Intended to Prevent Damage

Often as not, the cutter would also cut a small flat on the bottom, called the culet. Generally, this was intended to avoid accidental chipping or breakage, which might catch a cleavage plane and extend it deeper into the stone.

The cleavage plane on a diamond runs parallel to the octahedral faces so a long split up the entire length of the pavilion was not a minor possibility. For that reason, the practice of cutting a tiny flat culet on the pavilion tip is still practiced today. The practice is also followed with colored stones. In the latter case, it is not the cleavage that is potentially troublesome. It is the fragility of a sharp tip on a gemstone that is considerably softer and less accommodating to shock than is diamond.

Despite small advancements in cutting styles, the point cut style apparently persisted well into the 17th Century. A number of the world’s museums contain jewelry where the accent diamonds are in the point-cut style.

Search Continues for Performance

The search for visual performance continued. It appears that most of the new innovations were intended to improve surface performance, the scintillation or twinkle caused by reflections, rather than any knowledge application or pursuit of optical advancement. Doubtlessly, this search led to the development of the single cut. Single cuts are still cut in abundance today and are better known to the public and jewelry trade as chips or Swiss Cuts. The technique consists of dropping in facets at the corner ribs. This nicely rounded off the plan view into something more nearly representing a circle. It was an 8-sided circle to be sure, but a more circular configuration nonetheless.

Again, it is not difficult to guess why the single cut represented the next step. The explanation lies in the physical properties of the diamond itself. An easy cutting grain lies diagonal to each rib. If a bruter rubs two diamond ribs diagonal to each other, he is following the soft grain on each crystal. It would not have taken all that much experimentation to determine that four additional corner facets could be dropped in on both the pavilion and the crown portions of the crystal.

In contemporary cutting, these corner facets are the same width as the bezel facets and the angles of all eight pavilion facets are 41 degrees. In ancient times, the corner facets were generally narrower than the original sides and no knowledge of appreciation of angles was evident.

Breakthroughs Start in 1400’s

In the 1400’s, the breakthroughs started in earnest. First in importance was the work of Louis de Berquen, of Bruges, Flanders. Generally acknowledged as the Father of Modern Diamond Cutting, he is best known for his introduction, about 1476, of absolute symmetry, improvements in the polishing process, and the development of the pendeloque shape.

He is also credited with the development of the horizontally mounted metal grinding wheel, (known in diamond parlance as a skeif.) It is doubtful if he actually developed the wheel. What he unquestionably did do for the first time, was to cover the metal wheel with diamond dust suspended in oil. The oil, of course, kept the diamond particles on the rotating wheel rather than allow centrifugal force to sling them away. This led to extraordinary advances in polishing technology and control of the cut stones.

Because of the great leap in polishing excellence, historians also gave him credit for the wheel itself. This is highly questionable. It is much more likely that this invention occurred in India where diamond working originated. De Berquen certainly made improvements on the wheel. He also used it to far better advantage than heretofore. Indians, though, had been using such flat turning surfaces for centuries.

What really made de Berquen’s reputation and his place in history, was his development of the Sancy design. This was a classical pendeloque shape. Entrusted by Charles Le Temeraire, Duke of Burgundy, with three large rough diamonds in 1475, de Berquen responded with a revolutionary level of shape, design, and cutting excellence known as the Sancy design.

The Modern Age of Diamond Arrives

The impact on the French court on the brilliant, imaginative cuts, was such that all of France and Europe soon began demanding brilliant diamonds. Without a doubt, the age of the diamond had truly arrived. Refinements, as could be expected, were to come along later.

It should be recognized that de Berquen, however brilliant his cutting breakthrough, was not concentrating on brilliance and optics at the time. The Sancy design and cuts he originated were intended solely to produce maximum yield in the Duke’s rough consistent with good cutting execution. This design ambition was totally successful.

Success though, still wrested payment in kind. The historically famous Sancy Diamond may have represented a true break away from everything that had gone on before, but it is a cut stone that is really too thin to display maximum brilliance as the cut is repeated on both sides.

Notice that the corners are merely truncated. They are not the same width as the main or bezel facets. This gives the de Berguen cut a blocky or chunky appearance, a shape known better today as a square emerald.

The truly important contribution involved the appearance of triangular break facets on both the crown and pavilion. These helped control and discipline the light. In the absence of theory that would explain what was occurring internally, the break facets improved scintillation by a quantum leap. Little wonder that society responded so favorably to this innovation.

Sancy Diamond Introduces Bottom Cutting

Cutting the Sancy on both sides, though, demonstrated that the bottom of a gemstone could provide interesting optical effects. Technically, the Sancy could be called a double rose cut, since the top and bottom are identical.

That was interesting enough. Something else, of even greater importance than the bottom reflections, became evident to diamond cutters. With the addition of a second row of facets on each side, it was obvious that external light performance was substantially improved. Far more than any other cuts of the time, the Sancy cuts absolutely sparkled.

Thanks to the Sancy influence, the rose cut continued to grow in prominence. Various innovations on the rose cut represented a dramatic departure from previous cutting modes. The Rose cut consisted of a flat-bottomed cut, with a hexagonal, (six fold,) facet arrangements. These facets were stacked symmetrically on the domed and faceted top, or crown. This crown appearance virtually duplicates what today is known as an Apex Cut. The modern Apex cut consists of a rose cut-type crown all right, but it also features a fully faceted pavilion.

The apex cut actually developed from lapidaries who had discovered that the way to exhibit a star stone best was to cut a steep top, one that sloped off quickly. This style of phenomenal cabochon cutting dramatized the star’s rays and minimized their tendency to break up.

Major change or not, the advantages of the Rose cut included the opportunity to fashion flat stones. It also provided maximum spread and/or yield for a crystal’s weight and size. Throughout the 17th Century, the Rose cut found primary use as ornamentation on costumes, scabbards, sword hilts, harness trappings, epaulettes, dishes, candlesticks, boxes, etc.

Some controversy still exists over the origin of the Rose cut. Western history books attribute the cut to the efforts of French Cardinal Jules Mazarin, (1602-61). The ferocious Cardinal contracted for many diamonds in behalf of the French royal court, so many in fact, that an original type of faceting carried his name.

Most reliable sources believe that it was developed in Indian and then brought to Europe by Venetian merchants. After all, Indian cutters had produced the famous Koh-i-Nur, (Mountain of Light). This famous diamond was cut in the Rose style no later than 1530 as was the equally famous Great Mogul.

The latter explanation appears most valid. Macles and thin fragments were plentiful in India. Indeed, cynical Indian merchants are known to have hoodwinked ignorant miners into believing that the best test of a diamond was to strike it a blow with a hammer. If the crystal did not withstand the hit, it could not possibly be a diamond, the wily merchants explained.

Few hard, but brittle diamonds could withstand such a destructive test. When the miner departed after a testing session, the merchants gathered up the broken pieces and fled back to town and the cutting shops. History simply does not record how many fine, large Indian diamonds were destroyed this way. The loss must have been substantial. India was famous as a reservoir of large diamond crystals at the time.

Origin of the Rose Cut Name

The name for the Rose Cut stemmed from its alleged appearance of an opening rose bud. Such a cut can show considerable reflected light, (called life). In the absence of any design consideration for optics, it is deficient in the amount of color flashing. This is caused by the stone splitting the white light into its color spectrum, (called fire.)

It was cut in a variety of forms because the original shape of the rough usually dictated the mode of cutting. The Dutch rose is more pointed than others are. The Antwerp, (also called the Brabant,) is not quite so high with steeper inclined base.

With the few exceptions cut in oval or peach shapes, Rose cuts are generally round. The double rose, cut on both sides, achieved some popularity in the 19th Century. For the most part, double rose cutting, and keep in mind that the Sancy and the famous yellow Florentine were both cut in this fashion, gradually transitioned into other formal cut designs. These newer innovations consist of brilloettes, pendeloques, beads, and spheres.

Why hasn’t the Rose cut maintained its popularity? Light discipline can be the only answer. When you consider that Rose cuts are designed as a function reflected light the loss potential looms obvious. Some 83% of available light enters a diamond. A diamond reflects only 17% from its surface. The remainder is internal reflection. That means that a Rose cut forfeits more than 4/5’s of its potential brilliancy.

Considerations when Deciding on a Cut

The previous discussion represents valuable considerations to take into account as you ponder the decision to cut a transparent stone en cabochon versus faceting it. Not everyone should expect to cut like CSM, Don Clark, as illustrated here. Nor is everyone an accomplished cabochon cutter or carver.

Just keep in mind that reflected light enhances surface colors and textures. That is the great strength of cabochons versus faceted stones. The cabochon relies principally on surface reflected light to dramatize the color, texture, pattern, and surface quality of the mineral.

The faceted stone utilizes reflection along with deflection. Light not only reflects from the surface but enters the crystal, reflects off the interior of carefully placed and angled facets then emerges again. Often as not, the emergence captures some of the refraction qualities, so the former is separated into its color spectrum too.

When light enters a transparent crystal, its rays can be disciplined and controlled. The amount and quality of light returned to the eye demonstrates the ambitions of a faceted stone. Regardless of your experience, you will always cut a lovely gemstone if you keep these simple principles in mind.

Cardinal Mazarin’s Role Disputed

Earlier mention was made of Cardinal Mazarin. There is considerable controversy over his rightful place in gemcutting history. Yes, the 34-faced, rather chunky, brilliant type of diamond cut is named after him. There is little question, though, that he merely ordered such stones cut and contributed little design or technical influence other than financing.

Mazarin became a Cardinal of the Church in 1640 and succeeded Richeleau in 1642 as First Minister of France. A gem fancier par excellence, he continued in that office until his death. Throughout his life, he remained one of Tavernier’s best customers. That really seems to be his chief claim to lapidary fame. With a constant supply of fine, large rough specimens, he commissioned many rose cuts. He commissioned so many in fact that some improperly have attributed the development of the rose cut to him. The rose cut actually was in vogue years before his time.

Upon his death, Mazarin left a will that bequeathed eighteen diamonds. The will conditionally included de Berguen’s Sancy, as well as the Mirror of Portugal, to the French crown. His condition was that they were to be known as The Mazarin Diamonds. Not surprisingly Mazarin is thus sometimes credited with cutting the Sancy.

Mazarin is also incorrectly credited with the breakthrough developed in the brilliant cutting mode. This cutting style featured a cushion shaped cut with 17 facets above the girdle and 17 facets below the girdle. de Berguen had actually performed this design more than 100 years earlier.

History Reveals No Single Inventor

It should be apparent that lapidary history could not show any one single inventor of the round brilliant cut. Each advance depended on better technology and then the creativity of cutters. They coupled what knowledge they possessed of diamonds and colored stones to make use of the improvement in tools, materials, or technique.

A major step, though, took place late in the 1600’s in Venice. There a diamond cutter apparently named Peruzzi modified the Berguen double row style. Peruzzi’s new 58-facet cut introduced the concept of break and star facets. This innovation was in effect a triple cut. Although the design was to undergo a number of variations, the configuration is essentially what is seen today in the round brilliant cut.

The first name, Vincenzio, is often given for Peruzzi but intensive research shows that, while Venice did have a Peruzzi family at the time, there was never anyone named Vincenzio.

Remember: even the Peruzzi cut was blocky, not a perfect round. Also, even at this late date, rough diamonds and colored stones were still usually rounded by the tremendously laborious technique of hand bruting. This was especially true when the diamond occurred in the octahedral form.

With the discovery of the Brazilian diamond deposits, a great impetus was given to brilliant cutting. The new designs were in a cushion shaped form known as old-mine cuts or Brazilian cut. Still, the cutters remained faithful to the triple cut mode. With 58 facets, such a cutting design represented the forerunner to the Old European, (essentially an Old Miner design, but rounded verses the Miner’s squarish appearance,) and the modern round brilliant. Smaller stones were single cut with 17 facets on the crown and 16, (not including a culet facet,) on the pavilion.

Shape of the Crystal Still Dictated Plan

Despite advances, the original shape of the crystal still dictated the plan shape of the finished stone. When working with octahedrons, the cut would invariably come out squarish, or cushion shaped. If the shape was more of a rhombic dodecahedral then, a round shape could be expected.

In the 19th Century, more fully rounded diamonds were being produced. These gradually became known as Old European Cuts. Compared to modern cutting practices, they were characterized by small tables, large culets, and greater depth.

In addition, English cutters opted for thinner girdles than Dutch cutters. For years, it was this difference that marked a stone’s cutting origin. Thus, when viewing an Old European cut, inspect the girdle: its thickness often reflects English or Dutch cutting.

Tolkowsky Calculates Ideal Brilliant

When the Polish engineer, Marcel Tolkowsky, in 1914 published a theoretical treatise on the ideal dimensions of the diamond, the modern round brilliant form finally came into its own. Marcel’s document established the accepted cutting angles for pavilions, (41 degrees,) and crowns, (34 degrees.) Interestingly enough, Tolkowsky never provided one iota of mathematical or optical proof that his angles represented the ideal.

Some critics have suggested that his diamond cutting production experience could have led him to select angles that would produce a pleasing silhouette while maximizing yield from the existing angles of rough octahedral crystals. In any event, publication and acceptance of Tolkowsky’s calculations pretty much ended the experimentation that various cutters had been making over the years in their search for greater brilliance.

Tolkowsky’s dimensions may have earned a warm reception from cutters but the optical performance of the result has never been questioned. His dimensions called for greater precision and discipline. This led to the development of better machinery and tools. It likewise placed more emphasis on machine bruting and sawing.

Of considerable impact to the cutting trade, the ideal diamond configuration was an almost immediate hit among diamond buyers. Small diamonds were still cut primarily for yield, but on larger and better quality gems the proportions became a virtual must as buyers literally measured the new dimensions.

Modifications to Tolkowsky’s original computations were inevitable. The table became slightly larger and the pavilion girdle, or break facets became longer, sometimes extended to 8/10ths of the distance from girdle to culet tip.

Increasingly, recutters began adding faceted girdles, especially after the original patents ran out. Because colored stone fashioning is a derivative of diamond cutting, the new theories and shapes quickly spread throughout the lapidary industry. Lapidaries continued to experiment and it was not long before they realized that the chemical, optical, and physical personalities of the various stones varied considerably.

It was seen that cutting angles needed modification for each variety of gemstone. Unfortunately, there is little scientific justification for many of the published angles on colored stones. Today, many of these so-called recommended angles appear more a figment of the authors’ imagination and personal bias than they do as mathematically based criteria.

As more research emerges concerning the influence of refractive index and critical angle, it appears that the variations in recommended angles have little basis in fact. The problem with angles is also compounded when the true basis for cutting is considered.

The diamond is primarily cut for brilliance or the return of white light. Even with brilliant colored diamonds, called fancies, the cutting remains directed toward brilliance. Not so with colored stones. With the exception of clear or river colors where brilliant cutting is the objective, most colored stones are cut just for that, color enhancement or promotion. A beautiful raspberry hued garnet, or rich green emerald, is cut so as to dramatize the color.

Universal Angle Set

Under these circumstances, brilliance becomes a subordinate goal. Based on math and raytrace analysis, the author, Gerald Wykoff CMG GG showed mathematically that almost any transparent crystal could be effectively cut with angles of 42-degree main pavilion and 36-degree main crown. He further demonstrated the validity of these angles by analyzing the mathematics of the rainbow and its display of colors to the viewer from the 42-degree anti-solar position.

This colored stone angle set, he claims, represents the best, and most natural, compromise between color and brilliance. Most diamond cutting consists of cutting the round brilliant or one of its variations. The latter includes such cuts as the pear, marquise, oval, heart, etc. It has been estimated that some 90% to 95% of all diamonds are cut in the round brilliant style or one of its variations. Lapidaries, understandably enough, facet commercially in the round brilliant mode at only slightly less than the diamond ratio.

Emerald, or square shaped diamonds, cut in the step or trap style, developed later. Once cutters realized how these cuts dramatized and improved color, the incidence of step cutting steadily increased. Accordingly, cutters developed greater appreciation and skill in showcasing color. It required more advanced equipment, too, to cut the long, strictly disciplined facets so necessary in step cutting.

Responding to the appreciation of the long, classical proportions of the emerald cut, colored stone cutters’ experimentations in the last few decades have produced a series of magnificent innovations. These new designs mix brilliant and color cutting techniques.

Some innovations, which create a sort of brilliant color spray or light fountain effect, go by such design name of Radiant, Trilliant, Barion, and Princess. For the most part, these mixed designs combine step cutting with brilliant cutting.

Simultaneously, conventional step or trap cutting showed a steady progression too. Square or rectangular facets versus the kite or triangular facets of the brilliant style, of course, mark step cutting. The old table cut, for example, is more closely related to a step cut than to a brilliant and this becomes ever more evident as the square extends into a rectangular shape.

For diamonds, a step cut is almost invariably determined by the shape and grain of the rough. Yield is greater when cutting a non-standard configuration cutting straight lines that match the rough’s outline. Yield understandably suffers when a rounded brilliant cut is imposed on rough. Furthermore, step cuts do not always require symmetry.

There is another important benefit in step cutting. These cuts are deliberately deeper or thicker than brilliant cuts. It is this extra depth that provides the much better showcase for colored gems.

The laws of physics state that, the longer light travels through a medium and is subjected to selective absorption, the richer and purer will be the visible hue. Thus, the step cut, which most dramatically showcased in the great green emerald, finds great validity among colored stones. Because the trap cut is significantly deeper than a brilliant cut, the resultant reduction in the amount of brilliant white light actually enhances the color content.

It is no accident that most emeralds are cut in the step or trap mode. This well-known preference has earned the cut the label – emerald cut.

Technology, Technique Penetrates India

Only in the last few years has modern diamond cutting penetrated India. The hand held techniques of Indian cutters, together with a manually driven iron-cutting wheel, have been practiced for centuries. As a matter of fact, the famed international traveler and writer on gem lore, Jean Baptiste Tavernier, visited the diamond cutting shops of India in 1665. Even then, he observed that the skills of the many cutters apparently had not progressed much beyond their primitive beginnings.

It was standard practice to rub the diamond by hand over a diamond dust covered metal plate. Later, they fabricated a rotating wheel that could be turned by hand driven cranks. As for technique, when an Indian cutter detected a blemish or inclusion he would continue to orient the stone until reaching a soft grain direction. Then he would simply grind in a facet, removing the defect.

You could spot an Indian cut stone and evaluate its clarity with some accuracy. A poor quality stone was covered with haphazard facets. Furthermore, the imperfection removing facets offered no consideration to symmetry.

Probably the most acceptable distinction between Indian and European diamond cutting as this: discipline. The Indian cutter’s primary objective was to polish the existing faces of a crystal. If necessary, he would cover the crystal with an abundance of facets intended to remove unsightly flaws. However, he gave no attention toward shape, symmetry, or beauty of form.

The European cutters, and they are generally credited with making diamond cutting an art form, strived for pleasing shape and improved light performance. This same striving later led to the investigation of optical possibilities. The cutters’ intent was actually to improve upon the potential of a diamond’s physical, chemical, and optical properties. In short, diamond polishing may have been the contribution of the Indian artisans.

The European, particularly the Italians and the French, provided the craft of diamond cutting. Tavernier, who was thoroughly familiar with the diamond cutting industry in France and in Italy, could make such a rapid assessment. He was thoroughly familiar with the spreading use of iron diamond cutting wheels and specialized tools utilized in European shops. He was also familiar with the growing body of optical knowledge.

Europeans Thrust Ahead

Knowing that Europeans were thrusting ahead with one superb diamond development after another, he realized that colored stone progress, enjoying a sort of trickle down, was advancing in step.

Intarsia, also known as pietre dure or mosaics, in hard stone, reached its highest level in Italy. Individual masterpieces have been traced back to the early 17th Century. For nearly 400 years the famed Opificio delle Pietre Dure, (workshop of hard stones,) in Florence has remained world famous for the exquisite marvels that flow steadily from its workbenches.

Today, the work in the Opificio is mainly restoration and contract stained glass work. Some original work is done but it is on a much smaller scale. In its heyday of incredible stone paintings, only royalty could afford such masterpieces.

What gave the Opificio its advantage was the nearby availability of pietra paesina i.e., landscape stone. The Alberese stone together with, Arnolineato, an agate from the Arno river valley near Florence, assured the pre-eminence of Florentine intarsia. Only the Owyhee and BiggsCanyon jaspers of America’s Northwest can rival this marvelous dark stones. The Alberese stone is a limestone patterned in grays and browns, suggesting silhouettes. Arnolineato is striped in grays.

Boulders of the stone are first slabbed and polished. Into this stone are fitted or inlaid the contrasting stone. This forms the incredible stone paintings and art renderings that made Florence the center of intarsia.

Even by today’s standards, the Florentine techniques are astonishing. In the main workroom, the large grinding machines are located in the center of the room, looking like old fashioned roll top desks without the top. Each craftsman, perched on a high stool at the work station, operates a hand tool which is driven by a foot pedal arrangement. The pedal looks like an old foot driven sewing machine. They are attached to a horizontal spindle with a tiny abrasive wheel.

With his work on the table top in front of him, a craftsman skillfully shapes slabs and pieces of the pattern into precise fitting parts. In earlier years, before the advent of electrically driven equipment, stones were cut by a wire mud saw setup. Pieces were sawed from the slabs with a bow type wire saw using a steady stream of grit and water.

Once the individual pieces had been cut to precise dimensions, they were lapped to equal depth on the big machines. In the final stages, the pieces were, and still are, attached with mastic to a base of slate.

Cabochon Advancements

As splendid as were the faceting and inlay advancements, traditional cabochon cutting kept pace. For too long, a cabochon consisted merely of a rounded egg shape. Resisting iron bound history, gem cutting artists began experimenting, creating new forms and shapes, and taking an occasional venture into light control. Michael Dyber, a winner of numerous international awards, represents a good example of the new, creative cutting edge.

In the last few years, cabs have vaulted into public attention as cabbers developed forms in their own right and also blended their innovations with classical faceting. Likely as not, the marriage could produce a Dyber creation or something more in the carving mode from Larry Woods, marvelous geometric forms that control and direct light.

The Callanish Stones may have been ritual sites, or even ancient observatories

In the study, researchers examined the landscape surrounding the Callanish Stones (and other similar stone monuments in the UK), as well as the position of the sun, moon, and other astronomical bodies relative to these monuments.

Lead researcher Gail Higginbottom concludes that "the landscapes on which the stones were set were specifically chosen to show the most extreme rising and setting points of the Sun and Moon," per the BBC. Her team found that this was not just true for Callanish, but for hundreds of stone circles across Scotland, indicating an innate curiosity about the heavens among Scotland's Neolithic people.

But not everyone agrees with this theory. For example, Dr. Kenneth Brophy of the University of Glasgow, Scotland, believes that there is not enough evidence to support the notion that Britain's ancestors were motivated by mathematics and astronomy. "That's a very modern way of looking at the world," he told the BBC. Dr. Brophy asserts that monuments like the Callanish Stones were more likely built in places of cultural importance, and were used as gathering places for social rituals — in particular, to honor the dead, or even to cremate or bury them. Others have suggested that stone monuments were status symbols, with neighboring groups competing to build the biggest ones possible.

It's still unknown which of these was the true purpose of monuments like Callanish, or if it's some combination of these theories.

Stones - History

Much of the traditional gem lore that has survived was passed down through treatises on precious stones called lapidaries. According to Maria Leach's Standard Dictionary of Folklore, "Belief in the supernatural properties of precious stones goes back beyond recorded history. An early cuneiform tablet gives a list of stones facilitating conception and birth and inducing love and hate. These ideas of the ancients were woven into the astrological cosmos of the Babylonians, but the early Greek lapidaries were essentially medicinal. . . . The early Christian church opposed magic and condemned engraved talismans, but tolerated the use of medicinal amulets, and developed a symbolism of its own based on the gems of Exodus and the Apocalypse. . .

"Because they were part of the science of the [Middle Ages], rather than magic, [lapidaries] were accepted as fact . . . It was not until the later part of the seventeenth century that some of the more incredible virtues of gems were seriously questioned by the authorities. Even then there was no uniformity of opinion, and what one physician discarded as untenable, another vouched for in good faith from his own experience."

To add to the confusion, when you consult early stone lore — i.e., the works of Pliny the Elder or biblical or even medieval mentions of gems — there's great debate over which stones the writers were really referring to. For example, it’s now believed that "sapphire" is the English translation of the biblical "sapur," but what "sapur" actually referred to was not sapphire but lapis lazuli. Though the word emerald derives from the Latin "smaragdus," Pliny's "smaragdus" was not the word for emeralds but a term that encompassed many green stones. Interestingly, though, one possible origin for the word topaz is Topazios, an island in the Red Sea, which in Pliny's time was famous for its peridot mines, and there's wide speculation that straight through the eleventh century topaz, peridot, and citrine were all referred to as topaz. In the fourteenth century the word carbuncle was used to refer to garnets, rubies, and what might have been watermelon tourmaline.

There's another limitation you run up against when working with traditional lore, which is that often it only deals with the most commonly known precious and semiprecious gems. Diamonds, rubies, sapphires, topaz, emeralds, pearls, turquoise, carnelian, jade, amethyst, garnet, lapis lazuli, coral, agate, jasper, amber, quartz, and even malachite, are all stones with substantial, multicultural bodies of lore. But it's hard to find beliefs about minerals like labradorite, kyanite, or rhyolite in the older sources for those you have to go to contemporary writers, and then you're dealing with contemporary metaphysics which, though often drawing on ancient systems of belief, is another sort of language altogether.

When I began writing about stones my approach was to research them and then find a way to use whichever bit of information intrigued me, but as writers work on books, their books work on them, and my fiction was working on me. I found that if I wrote about a stone, it helped to be able to hold it. Although this wasn't possible in the case of diamonds and the expensive jewels, I have a number of semiprecious gems and crystals (plus lots of "ordinary" rocks) on hand, and holding them led to working with them, trying to sense what might be inside them as my characters do. This process is still new to me. Quite honestly, sometimes I pick up a stone and don't feel a thing. But other times — whether through the senses, intuition, or imagination — the rocks and crystals have given me inspiration and information, hinted at what they hold inside them.

There came a point when I realized there was no one truth about any given stone, and that I was, in fact, free to write whatever I wanted about them. This doesn’t mean I’ve stopped researching — gem lore, mythology, and mineralogy continue to fascinate me — or that I’m not careful about the qualities I ascribe to the stones in the novels. But I’ve come to believe that stones are as individual and unique as we are, and a great deal of what anyone perceives in a stone — beyond its geologic origins and specific mineralogical properties — is intuitive rather than definitive, and specific to the stone itself.

So for what it's worth and in no particular order, here are some of the stones I touched on in A Rumor of Gems and a preview of the qualities I chose to write about. [For more on the lore of stones, please see my article on Gem Lore.]

Moonstone [orthoclase]
Years ago in New York, I was given a moonstone by a friend who told me it was the stone of tenderness. Being a feldspar, moonstone is a fairly soft stone [hardness of 6 on Moh's scale], and it has a gentle translucent sheen. Some legends say it was formed out of the rays of the moon. Others claim you can see the future in a moonstone during a waning moon. Still others say it’s a propitious stone for lovers with the power to make the wearer faithful. My favorite bit of lore about the moonstone, though, comes from India’s astrologers, who say it is the stone used to befriend the moon. In Rumor moonstone is used primarily as a stone that opens the heart, though there’s also a scene where Alasdair uses it to scry the future.

Hematite [iron oxide]
An opaque mineral with a metallic luster, often black or silvery though having a blood-red streak and showing blood-red when cut in thin slices. Hematite has long been connected to Mars, the red god of war it was believed that when warriors rubbed their bodies with hematite, they became invulnerable. While personally I don't think of any stone as "good" or "bad," for purposes of the story I depicted hematites as stones that engendered aggression.

Chrysoprase [chalcedony]
Apple-green and slightly fluorescent a merry stone, a gift in times of joy. Historically, both the Greeks and Romans used it in their seals and signets. Like opal and chrysoberyl, it was said to have the power to confer invisibility on the one who wore it in fact, there's speculation that in older texts the word chrysoprase was used when chrysoberyl was meant. One of the odder beliefs about chrysoprase, which I have not used, is that a thief about to be hanged or beheaded could escape if he held a bit of chrysoprase in his mouth.

Cat’s-eye Chrysoberyl [aka cymophane]
A translucent, yellowish, cloudy stone with a chatoyant sheen and a hardness of 8.5 on Moh's scale. In Rumor, Alasdair gives the boy Michael a stone to keep with him, and I needed a mineral that was physically quite hard, as in the scene it's repeatedly thrown against cinderblock walls. Because it was a gift from Alasdair, it also had to be a protective stone, so I combined and extrapolated from a number of beliefs: In Arabic tradition, it’s believed that the chrysoberyl could make the wearer invisible in battle. According to Melody, the stone has a stabilizing influence, opening one to a sense of self worth and allowing forgiveness.

Tourmaline is a complex gemstone found in a tremendous range of colors that includes green, blue, yellow, pink, red, black and the watermelon variety, which is both pink and green. Its pyroelectric quality — if rubbed or heated, it will develop a static charge that attracts lightweight particles to its surface — was probably the source of its name. According to Barbara Walker's The Book of Sacred Stones, the Sinhalese word turamali, meant both "colored stone" and "attractor of ashes." Like quartz, it also has a piezoelectric effect, and becomes electrically charged when bent or stressed in certain directions. Walker's book states that tourmaline was recognized as a gem in Europe in 1703 when Dutch traders brought it back from the East, but Christopher Cavey's Gems and Jewels: Fact and Fable states that tourmalines have "only been identified as a separate gem species for the last two hundred years. The stones originally found in Brazil in the sixteenth century were mistaken for emerald, and it was not until the eighteenth century that this error was corrected."

Black Tourmaline [aka schorl]
The story needed a stone that would protect against dark magic. At the time I had a beautiful, glossy chunk of schorl on my desk, and as I began to write the confrontation with the shape-shifter Sangeet, black tourmaline was what came to mind. Later, I looked it up in contemporary metaphysical guides (both Melody's Love Is in the Earth and Judy Hall's The Crystal Bible), and found that indeed, it has been used to protect against black magic and negative energy.

Tourmaline [sea-green]
Tourmaline has been used by both African and Australian shamans, and according to Melody, "in rituals performed in ancient eastern Indian culture, the tourmaline was used to provide direction toward that which was 'good' it was also recognized as a 'teller' stone, providing insight during times of struggle and 'telling' who and/or what is causing trouble." I couldn't resist the idea of tourmaline being a "teller stone" and so had Alasdair give one to Lucinda.

Mineralogical kin to turquoise often apple-green, though what materializes for Alasdair is a deep-green bead, based on a necklace I once saw. According to Melody, faustite "allows for deeper communication with plant and animal life." I took this one step further, using the faustite in the novel to facilitate a kind of human-to-animal telepathy.

Another feldspar which, though translucent, often has a multicolored sheen. When I pictured the labradorite bridge in Arcato, I was picturing the stones in a particular grey-blue labradorite necklace I'd seen, but I also have a gorgeous chunk in my office (see bottom photo HERE) that has a range of satiny blues and golds in it. As for the power I ascribed to labradorite in the novel, I'm not quite sure where I got that one.

Like jasper, agate, chrysoprase, and carnelian, chalcedony is a cryptocrystalline quartz, meaning that its crystalline structure is so fine that you can't actually see distinct particles under a microscope — or put another way, though it's a quartz, it never appears as a crystal. Historically, chalcedony was sacred to Diana, and connected to victory in arguments and battles, which is one reason it was used so frequently in cameos depicting military leaders. According to Melody, it’s also been used "to provide a pathway for receiving thought transmission." I drew on and combined these beliefs, using chalcedony twice in Rumors, where it not only carries the victory gene, as it were, but opens pathways where there's resistance.

A relatively soft stone [5.5 – 6.5 on Moh's scale] According to Bruce G. Knuth, the word opal was originally derived from the Sanksrit upala, which means precious stone. The ancient Romans called it cupid paederos, "child beautiful as love," regarding it as a "symbol of hope and purity." In Arab lore "opals are the remnants of lightning strikes to the ground, and the flashes in the stone are captured lightning." It wasn't until the nineteenth century that the opal became known as a gem of ill omen and was connected with assorted misfortunes of European royalty.

In Rumors, I drew primarily on the opal's reputation as a thief's stone, with the power to simultaneously strengthen one's sight and make the wearer invisible. [As far as I can tell, this dates back to the Greek story of Gyges (related in Plato's Republic) who found a ring that made him invisible and thus allowed him to steal both queen and crown.] Since completing the novel, I wound up with a small black opal of my own and keep finding myself transfixed by the thing. I'm not yet sure of how, but opals will definitely play a larger role in the sequel.

The only gemstone composed of one pure element, carbon, whose molecules are bonded with perfect symmetry in every direction. This perfect atomic structure is what makes it the hardest natural substance on the planet [a 10 on Moh's scale], as well as an excellent conductor of heat and electricity. It also, as Geshe Michael Roach writes in The Diamond Cutter, "has the highest degree of refraction of any naturally occurring substance in the universe." The diamond's physical properties of clarity and hardness have given rise to it being a symbol of power, strength, innocence and incorruptibility, longevity, constancy, and good fortune. Of course, there are also the famously cursed diamonds, like the Hope, as well as an old Persian belief that the diamond was a source of sin and sorrow, which is not so unreasonable, considering how much blood has been shed in the mining, selling, and acquiring of the stone.

When I was writing Rumor I became intrigued by a branch of diamond lore that claims the gem drives away madness and protects against ghosts, chimeras, enchantments and sorcery. And I was drawn to a photograph of the Javeri diamond pictured in Christopher Cavey's book. [Please see Sources and the Annotated Bibliography.] That was the stone I imagined when Lucinda was given the diamond in Kama's garden ….

A yellow quartz, traditionally known as a merchant's stone. One acquaintance, who does a lot of work with stones, recommended keeping citrine with your loose change, as a way of engendering savings.

The bright green variety of beryl. Emeralds are the gem of spring and rebirth, a protection at sea, an antidote to certain poisons. Of course, they've also been connected with jealousy, and it's said that some emeralds can be used to call on the dark angels and spirits. Bruce G. Knuth, citing Forbes' Oriental Memoirs, relates an Indian tale about emeralds originating from fireflies in moonlight. That captured my imagination, and emeralds from fireflies found their way into Rumor.

Technically not a stone at all but fossilized resin, however only the pearl predates its use as a gem. Amber beads have been found in prehistoric sites, and amber is believed to have been traded before 2000 B.C. According to Maria Leach, "In Greek legend, amber was a concretion of tears shed at the death of Meleager by his sisters. In Scandanavian mythology, it was the tears shed by Freya when Odin wandered out into the world. To the Chinese it was the soul of the tiger transformed into the mineral after death." Amber only appears briefly in Rumor, where I drew on the belief that a goblet made of amber will not only detect but burn away any poison it contains.

As Bruce G. Knuth explains, garnet "is not a single mineral but a group of minerals that share a nearly identical atomic structure. The stones in the group are chemically different complex silicates each chemical variation results in a distinctly different mineral. They vary in hardness, color, and transparency." The garnet group includes — but is not limited to — almandine (red with violet tint), green andradite and uvarovite, pyrope (red with brown tint), and hessonite (a cinnamon to yellow grossular garnet).

Like most red and pink stones, garnets have been connected with the heart, passion, and blood. A wide-ranging array of powers was ascribed to garnet. It was one of many stones thought to be an antidote to poison if taken internally or worn as a poultice. According to Knuth, "If worn, it would dissipate sadness, control incontinence, avert evil thoughts and dreams, exhilarate the soul, and foretell misfortunes." Believed to contain a flare of lightning inside it, garnet was also believed to keep one safe from lightning strikes, which is the bit that I fastened onto and used in Rumors.

Of all the minerals, only pyrite, diamonds, and garnets manifest in rhombic dodecahedrons, which are part of the cubic system, which of all the crystal systems has the highest order of symmetry. [P.G. Read's Dictionary of Gemmology explains that "Crystals can be grouped into seven basic crystal systems . . . defined in terms of imaginary lines of reference called crystal axes and by their elements of symmetry."] When I started working on Rumors one of my sisters gave me a small basket of stones, and in it was a very small unpolished garnet, a perfect dodecahedron crystal. I've been fascinated by the tiny stone's natural perfect faceting and by its color — so dark a red it's nearly opaque and yet if you hold it up to the light, something flickers in its depths.

A felsite, in the feldspar family, rhyolite contains both feldspar and quartz but is softer than quartz, easier to carve, originally part of a volcanic flow. I first became intrigued by rhyolite when I visited Chiricahua National Monument, which is filled with rhyolite spires and columns. The tourist literature they give you refers to it as either "forests of stones" or "a wonderland of rocks." To me it looked more like a community of beings. However you choose to describe it, it's a phenomenally beautiful and moving terrain, where the rocks — the result of volcanic eruptions and millennia of erosion — seem sculpted.

Quite a while after visiting the Chiricahaus, I bought a little chunk of rhyolite in a local rock shop, this one looking as if it had swirls of chocolate moving through it. I spent a long time looking at that rock before realizing that rhyolite was what Vita's house in the Source Place was made of. I also, irrationally, kept thinking, "This stone has movement in it." And from that — and Melody's description of it as "a stone of resolution"— came the idea that rhyolite contained movement in its essence and could be a tonic for moving through difficulties a stone that won’t allow you to stay in place where you’re stuck, a stone that urges one toward change and resolution and offers its own energy and strength to aid that.

A transparent crystal with strong dichroism, revealing different colors — often brownish-red and green — when viewed from different directions. According to Melody, andalusite can be used to enhance memory, reflecting different facets of what we’ve known, which is how Vita uses it in the Source Place.

Topaz, which has a Moh's hardness of 8, exists in a variety of colors, including many shades of yellow and gold, a silvery blue, and pink. The early lapidaries cite topaz as a stone capable of cooling boiling water, curing eye disease and gall, dispelling night terrors, lessening anger and lechery, and being able to cure cowardice. Having a similar protective intent but rather different m.o. from amber, it was said to become invisible in the presence of poison. It was also said to be a protection against untimely death. According to Bruce G. Knuth, as an amulet topaz was used to "drive away sadness, strengthen the intellect, and grant courage. All these powers were said to increase and decrease with the phases of the moon and be even more powerful if used in moonlight. . . . The topaz is also considered precious by African bushmen it is used in ceremonies for healing and contacting spirits."

Among the many powers attributed to topaz was the stone's ability to create its own light. St. Hildegarde claimed that she read prayers in a darkened chapel by the light emanating from a topaz. And in a 1907 compendium of mineral lore, The Occult and Curative Powers of Precious Stones, William T. Fernie, M.D. wrote: "[The topaz] possesses a gift of inner radiance which can dispel darkness . . . Formerly, it was eagerly looked for by mariners, when they had no daylight, or moon, to direct their course." I was charmed by this idea of topaz's inner radiance, and so Vita wears both golden and light blue topaz, which are indeed radiant.

Quartz [aka rock crystal]
Quartz, whose chemical composition is silicon dioxide [Moh's hardness of 7], is one of the most abundant minerals on the planet. As Bruce G. Knuth writes: "[It is] found in nearly every exposed rock on the earth's surface. It is a compound of the two most common elements in the earth's crust, silica and oxygen." The ancients, however, believed it was formed of petrified ice, and Australian and Oceanian shamans considered it "a stone of light" broken off from the celestial throne. There are, of course, many varieties of quartz including amethyst, citrine, rose and smoky quartz.

Because of its abundance and beauty, nearly every ancient culture revered quartz, and it has been used by many peoples in shamanic and religious ceremonies. Knuth states that pieces of quartz were found in the 8,000-year-old Egyptian Temple of Hathor, and quotes the Greek priest Onomacritis, founder of the Hellenic mysteries, as giving the following advice in the fifth century B.C. "Who so goes into the temple with this in his hand may be quite sure of having his prayer granted, as the gods cannot withstand its power." It has been used to contain spirits, summon both fire and rain, divine the future and as a protection from danger, a medium for clairvoyance, and a conduit to other realms.

In Rumors, I drew on a number of the beliefs about quartz, including a beautiful Vedic belief that says, "if you offer a libation to the dead while wearing white quartz, then you give the dead the gift of happiness.” I also incorporated a shamanic belief, found in Mircea Eliade's Shamanism, about quartz containing an animal spirit. Currently, I have a beautiful smoky quartz crystal on my desk (see detail photo at the top of this page) which I am sure will find its way into the second book.

Though the ancient Egyptians considered the amethyst a stone of the intellect and wisdom, the Greek word for it amethustos, which means "not drunken" has long associated the mineral with the belief that wearing it is a protection against intoxication. It's also been considered a calming influence, a good stone for clarity, and a protection from sorcerers and thieves.

In E. A. Wallis Budge's Amulets and Talismans, I found the mention of a hexagonal amethyst crystal, engraved with the image of bear, which since Renaissance times was considered a powerful protection. And so I absolutely had to give one to Alasdair and find out exactly what this ancient amulet might do.

Vita has large smooth cabochon of red carnelian, a symbol inscribed on its surface. A red stone, carnelian was linked to blood and so to energy and power. Most of the lore I drew on for the carnelian came out of ancient Egypt where it was believed that carnelian was connect to Seth, the volatile god of desert and storms who murdered his brother Osiris. Embodying opposites, carnelian can still the qualities Seth is known for: envy, hatred and rage. It's also been said to deflect psychic attacks.

What Is the Rosetta Stone?

In the 19th century, the Rosetta Stone helped scholars at long last crack the code of hieroglyphics, the ancient Egyptian writing system. French army engineers who were part of Napoleon Bonaparte’s Egypt campaign discovered the stone slab in 1799 while making repairs to a fort near the town of Rashid (Rosetta). 

The artifact, which is made of granitoid, came into the possession of the British after they defeated the French in Egypt in 1801.

The stone features a decree issued in 196 B.C. by a group of Egyptian clergy and Egypt’s ruler, Ptolemy V, attesting to his generosity and devoutness. It originally was displayed in a temple, possibly near the ancient town of Sais, then centuries later moved to Rosetta and used in the construction of Fort Julien, where it was eventually uncovered by the French. 

The decree on the stone is written in three ways: in hieroglyphics, which was used mainly by priests in ancient Egyptian demotic, used for everyday purposes and in ancient Greek. The use of hieroglyphics died out after the 4th century and the writing system became an enigma to scholars.

British scientist Thomas Young, who began studying the Rosetta Stone’s texts in 1814, made some initial progress in analyzing its hieroglyphic inscription. Young surmised that the cartouches—hieroglyphs enclosed in ovals𠅌ontained the phonetic spellings of royal names, including Ptolemy, who was referenced in the Greek inscription. 

Ultimately, it was French linguist Jean-Francois Champollion who deciphered the Rosetta Stone and cracked the hieroglyphic code. Between 1822 and 1824, Champollion showed that hieroglyphics were a combination of phonetic and ideographic signs rather than just symbolic picture writing that didn’t also represent sounds of language, as earlier scholars had suspected. For his discoveries, Champollion is heralded as the founding father of Egyptology.

Battle of Stones River Begins

The armies collided along Stones River on New Year’s Eve. Facing a larger Union force (42,000 Union soldiers to 35,000 Confederates), Bragg launched an attack in bitterly cold morning fog against the Yankees’ right flank. The attack was initially successful in driving the Union back, but the Yankees did not break. A day of heavy fighting brought significant casualties, and the suffering was compounded by the frigid weather. The Confederates came close to winning, but were not quite able to turn the Union flank against Stones River. The new year dawned the next day with each army still in the field and ready for another fight.

The strike came on January 2, and the Confederates lost the battle. Bragg attacked against the advice of his generals and lost the confidence of his army. The Union troops repelled the assault, and Bragg was forced back to Tullahoma, Tennessee. The North was in control of central Tennessee, and the Union victory provided a much-needed morale boost in the aftermath of the Yankees loss at the Battle of Fredericksburg in December 1862. Stones River was a hard-fought, bloody engagement, with some of the highest casualty rates of the war. The Union suffered approximately 13,000 troops killed, wounded or captured, while the Confederates had approximately 10,000 casualties. President Abraham Lincoln (1809-65) later wrote to Rosecrans, “…you gave us a hard victory which, had there been a defeat instead, the nation could scarcely have lived over.”

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