[Sca-cooks] Precious stones to ward off evils

Terry Decker t.d.decker at worldnet.att.net
Wed Nov 28 20:58:41 PST 2007

>    While we are at it Daniel sent a website concerning precious stones
> in the Roman Empire. Obviously according to this Romans were not wearing
> precious stones in rings while eating to protect oneself against poison,
> which is the topic at hand. After reading the entire essay. I found a
> important sentence: the "method of polishing diamonds was first
> discovered in 1456, by Louis Berquen, a citizen of Bruges ." Fascinating
> cause such inventions travel slowly so probably when one of you said
> diamonds were cheaper than other precious stones you are totally correct
> because of the lack of polish. This points to a logic error on the part
> of Spanish historians claiming diamonds were used in 1434 to ward of
> poison.

High quality, natural octahedral diamonds are rare and are therefore very 
costly.  Pliny's comment is "The diamond, known for a long time only to 
kings and then to very few of them, has a greater value than any other human 
possession, and not merely than any other gemstone."  From this, I assume 
Romans did not generally wear diamonds because they could not afford them 
and the idea that diamonds are cheaper than other stones because they lack 
polish is false.

Diamond cutting increased the supply of available diamonds.  European 
diamond cutting appears to begin in Venice between 1330 and 1350.  The 
earliest representation of a facetting machine is by Zwolle in 1439.  The 
1456 date for Berquen is open to question as some sources list his birth as 
1450.  Berquen was the first cutter to grind off the upper and lower points 
of the octahedral, the claim that he was the person who introduced diamond 
cutting to Europe is false.  Giacomo Tagliacarne is definitely contemporary 
to Berquen and very likely predates him.

Since diamond cutting in Europe was 80-100 years old in 1434, I wouldn't 
write off the claims that they were used then to ward off poison without 
quite a bit more research.

>    Perhaps I should list the stones authors claimed that were in use in
> 15th  Spain and see what you know about them, ok? In that case please
> bear with me its like May here in the southern hemisphere, first
> communions, graduations, weddings and parties before the summer holidays
> commence. That is why my responses are a bit tardy.
> Suey

Fine by me, but we might wish to take this off list since we are getting 
away from cooking.


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