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The pearls are then drilled. The large ones are generally drilled first, in order to bring in the hand to work with more ease on the smaller size, and an expert workman in the course of a day will perforate 300 small, or 600 large pearls. They are then washed in salt and water, to prevent the stains which would otherwise be occasioned by the perforating instrument.
The next branch of the business is the arranging the pearls on strings; this is considered the most difficult operation in the profession of the pearl merchant, and is one in which very few excel.
The pearls of the largest size, being most costly, and esteemed as emblems of greatness, find a ready sale among the rich natives of the Nizam's dominions, Guzerat, and the other parts of India.
The finest annee pearls, from the size of the sieve No. 30, to that of No. 80, which make most beautiful necklaces, are sent to Europe.
A handsome necklace of pearls smaller than a large pea, costs from £170 to £300; but one about the size of a pepper-corn, may be procured for £15: the former pearls sell at a guinea each, and the latter at eighteen pence. When the pearls dwindle to the size of small shot, they are sold at a very trifling price.
The smaller sorts are sent to the markets of Hydrabad, Poona, and Guzerat; in which last-mentioned place, pearls of a yellow tinge are preferred to those of a pure white, being considered as having arrived at greater maturity, less liable to fade, and retaining their lustre to a longer period. The refuse and lower orders of all the pearls turn to good account in the China market, where those of superior value cannot be so readily sold.
Pearls are sometimes met with of various colours, of an exquisite silverlike brightness, transparent, semi-transparent, opaque, brown, and black.
Pearls from the fishery of Ceylon are more esteemed in England than from any other part of the world, being of a more regular form, and of a finer silvery white than the Persian pearl. They should be chosen round, of a bright lustre, free from stains, foulness, and roughness. They are sometimes brought to Europe undrilled, but are not of so much value as when drilled and strung; and the pearls should be as near as possible of an equal quality throughout each string.
The finest, and what is called the true shape of the pearl, is a perfect round; but if pearls of a considerable size are of the shape of a pear, as is not unfrequently the case, they are not less valued, as they serve for earrings and other ornaments; their colour should be a pure white, and that not a dead and lifeless, but a clear and brilliant one; they must be perfectly free from foulness, and their surface must be naturally smooth and glossy. Pearls that are rough on the surface, spotted, or dull in colour, irregular in
their shape, and not perfectly round, should be rejected. It is also an imperfection when they have large drilled holes, or are rubbed flat about the edges of their holes by long use. As no allowance is made for tassels, care should be taken that as little silk,
&c. are in them as possible.
Of the smallest size, or seed pearl, the most diminutive is of more value than the middle size, provided it runs smooth, round, and of a fine silvery lustre. This kind being sold by the ounce, care should be taken that the tassels are very slight, as an allowance of £5 per cent. only is made in England, though the silk, &c. are generally much heavier.
CEYLON STONES.-Stones of various kinds are found on Ceylon, but the greater part of them are of a very inferior quality. The Moors carry on a considerable trade in them. All such stones as are transparent, and sufficiently hard to take a polish by grinding, are called precious stones. They are known by the following names:
RUBY.-The ruby is more or less ripe, which, according to the Indian expression, means more or less high-coloured. The ruby is for the most part blood red; the deeper red the colour, the larger the stone, and the clearer it is, without any flaw, so much greater is its value; however, they are seldom found here of any considerable size: for the most part, they are small, frequently of the size of particles of gravel, grains of barley, &c. The higher the colour, the clearer and more transparent they are.
AMETHYSTS.-These stones are sometimes found of a large size, but nerally very small; the larger their dimensions, the paler and less coloured they are, and therefore less valued and esteemed. The small are of the deepest colour, but notwithstanding of no great value. The dearest and most valuable are those which are high-coloured, without flaws, and of some tolerable size.
ROBALS are dark-coloured stones, darker than the ruby, and not so hard. They are found mostly in small pieces, are cut for setting in rings, and are frequently exposed to sale for rubies.
HYACINTHS are small yellowish brown, or reddish stones, which, as well as robals, are frequently offered for sale under the denomination of rubies.
CINNAMON STONE in some measure resembles the oil drawn from the best and finest cinnamon; it is not, however, always alike, but more or less pale, or of a deep orange colour. These stones are seldom found of any considerable size in a perfect state; but in general, even the small ones, cracked longways and across, which destroys their clearness, and renders them unfit for cutting.
CAT'S EYE, a very hard stone, which approaches more or less to white, or green, and is semi-diaphanous, with a streak of the breadth of a line in the middle, which is much whiter than the stone itself, and throws its light to what side soever it is turned. In this respect therefore it resembles a cat's eye. The largest is of the size of a hazel-nut; others are found much smaller. In its rough state it seems to have no angles nor signs of crystallization. Its value is in proportion to its size and purity. One of the size of a nut, without flaws and imperfections, is sometimes valued at 50 or 60 rix-dollars. They are cut convex and oblong, without faces, so that the streak which intersects them comes in the middle, and they are afterwards set in rings, which are worn by the natives.
WHITE CRYSTAL is found both crystallized and worn smooth by the water; is in uneven, flat, and long pieces, full of pits and hollows; the colour is clear, more or less of a watery hue or shining white; it sometimes is found in lumps of six inches in diameter.
YELLOW CRYSTAL is nearly the same as white, with this distinction, that it appears of a disagreeable yellow colour; it is seldom if ever crystallized, but always worn down smooth by the agitation of the water into round pieces, with a rough knobby surface.
BROWN CRYSTAL is distinguished by its being of a blackish cast, or that of pale ink. When laid upon any substance, it does not seem to be transparent, but may be seen through if viewed against the light. The pieces are the size of a walnut, and are cut into buttons and other uses.
BLACK CRYSTAL is quite black and shining, but not transparent; some pieces are as large as a walnut, others as small as a pea. They are cut and polished for buttons, and bear a great resemblance to jet; it is very common, and of but little value.
JARGOON, or Zircon, is a kind of stone of the nature of a diamond, but much softer; according to some lapidaries, the jargoon comes next in hardness to the sapphire; and as they have, when cut and polished, a great resemblance to the diamond, they are made up in various kinds of jewellery ; they are generally very small, of a smooth surface, and a bright shining lustre. The larger they are, the more they are esteemed.
Blue Sapphire. Sometimes these are so pale, that they almost exhibit the appearance of water, but generally they are of a dark blue, uniformly coloured, and of round and various other shapes; they are sometimes to be met with as large as a hazel-nut, but most of them are much smaller.
GREEN SAPPHIRE occurs of a bright green, a greenish, and a palish white colour, and is a genuine sapphire.
WATER SAPPHIRE, a stone which very much resembles white crystal, but when viewed against the light, is both clearer and whiter; it is especially distinguishable by its hardness, in which it surpasses the crystal, and is much dearer. The largest are of the size of a walnut.
RED TOURMALIN, when laid upon a table, appears dark and opaque, but being held against the light, is of a pale red hue. They are sometimes as large as a pea, but most of them about the size of a grain of rice, and frequently damaged and imperfect; the colour is in general equally distributed.
GREEN TOURMALIN is of a dark hue, sometimes bordering upon yellow, sometimes upon blue, most frequently upon black; it is in not a few instances transparent, and in others covered with an opaque surface; it is in thick and thin pieces of irregular forms, sometimes as large as a walnut, sometimes as small as groats. The green, or chrysoprase, is beautiful, of a grass-green colour, clear and transparent, and is used for cutting. This is properly called the green tourmalin.
YELLOW TOURMALIN is called likewise tourmalin topaz, because it sometimes bears a great resemblance in colour to the topaz; in appearance it is very much like amber; some are more saturated or ripe, almost of an orange colour; some are of a paler, and some of a whitish yellow. They are cut for the purpose of setting in rings, and are frequently handsome.
WHITE TOURMALIN.-It is more or less white, almost always the colour of milk, so that its transparency is not perfectly clear. It is often found in pieces, which have spots or streaks in them. It is cut for setting in rings, and among the most common stones in Ceylon.
TARIPO is the name given in Ceylon to a white stone, which in all probability is nothing more than white crystal; its colour is pure white, or somewhat of a watery cast, but not so clear and transparent as the crystal. It is always in shapeless lumps, and is cut for setting.
TOPAZ.-This is in general a beautiful transparent stone, of a shining gold colour, met with in various parts of the world, in the Brazils, Ceylon, and Madras; they should be chosen large, of a bright deep colour, free from cracks, flaws, or clouds; those that have a reddish tinge should be rejected.
COAST FROM CAPE COMORIN TO MADRAS.
THE Coast of India from Cape Comorin to Point Ramen, which forms the N. W. side of the Gulph of Manar, is called the Tinnevelly Coast. It is only frequented by small coasting vessels. Point Ramen is in some degree connected with the Island of Ceylon by a narrow ridge of sand and rocks, called Adam's Bridge.
TUTICORIN, the principal place on this part of the coast, is in latitude 8° 47' N. longitude 78° 15' E. The town is large, open, and wellbuilt, adorned with several large buildings of stone, particularly some churches erected by the Portuguese. Considerable quantities of piece-goods are manufactured here and in the neighbouring villages. Between Tuticorin and Ceylon are numerous sand-banks. A pearl fishery is carried on here, though at present not very productive, and considerable quantities of chank shells are exported from hence.
TRADE.-The commerce between this part of the coast and Madras in piece-goods, grain, &c. is considerable.
In this district are manufactured calamaganzies, aunni-ketchies, and putton-ketchies. These cloths are made of a hard long-grained cotton, are of an even, regular texture, and resemble European linen more than any of the Indian cloths. They are preferable to the long-cloths manufactured in the Circars, and are cheaper by at least 30 per cent.
The coast from Cape Ramen to Point Calymere comprehends the provinces of the Marawars and Tondiman; the principal towns on the coast are Tondy and Cottapatam, frequented only by small coasters. On Point Calymere, which is in latitude 10° 19' N., longitude 79° 58 E., are two remarkable pagodas. About half a mile to the N. of them is a small river, and on its banks stands a large village, where a considerable trade is carried on in tobacco, rice, piece-goods, &c. ; the river has a bar, so that only small vessels can enter. The kingdom of Tanjore commences to the S. of Point Calymere, and extends to the N. as far as the Coleroon River.