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Diamond cutting in Glorantha

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Which cultures know the techniques to cut diamonds? Dwarves I think, but does anyone else? In Terra it was a late medieval invention, and therefore unknown in the bronze age.

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I would think this is a Dwarf Thing and a Dwarf Thing only. Most gemstones in Glorantha are probably polished with some natural faceting, but not cut. If it's cut, it was probably cut by Mostali and either stolen or used as trade goods.

If there are any cults that can cut diamonds other than Mostali, I'd put my money on Third Eye Blue.

Volcano Gods like Vestakarthan, Lodril, Caladara&Aurelion and by extension Argan Argar (Volcano Slave, cut this for me!) might be able to shape diamonds by magic rather than tools. 

Sorcerers could create facets by using Form/Set Diamond.

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7 hours ago, Brootse said:

Which cultures know the techniques to cut diamonds? Dwarves I think, but does anyone else? In Terra it was a late medieval invention, and therefore unknown in the bronze age.

Diamond cutting in India may date to the 4th century BC, but was probably happening a few centuries later - however, these stones would not have displayed the more complex cuts of the medieval period. For a long time, India was the only known source of diamonds;  Ctesias wrote that the deposits were guarded by griffins (he never traveled far himself but collected travelers' tales).

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I would only expect the Mostali to be able to cut gemstones. 

Basic grinding of crude facets might be possible in eastern Gerertela, but it's not really a thing that I would imagine would appeal (big rocks with fancy carving would be more applicable).

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With uncut diamonds hardly diverging from D8 shapes (octahedra, for the geometrically literate), I suppose that every diamond used in jewelry will have undergone some smoothing of surfaces and addition of facets. At the very least uneven splits resulting in a flat surface on the truncated pyramid above the untruncated one, offering a 9-faceted stone with some interesting internal reflections available already.

Gem carving and gem cutting probably is as old as is chalcolithic metalworking, though the tougher (nowadays most precious) stones may have been left out for long.

Some of the neolithic base material like jade was first used for everyday tools and then refined into more and more artistic and precious-stone-like pieces of work.

It isn't clear whether the hardness of gems was prized as much as the optical effects the gem would create, which places tiger eye, mother-of-pearl, pearls and amber in the same category as emerald or sapphire although the latter corund crystals are among the hardest (and hence most difficult to work) materials out there. Scarcity and distant sources of the basic material contribute to the value assigned to a piece of jewelry as much as scarcity of workmanship sufficient to pull off a special effect giving it the special sparcle.

Dwarf-produced gems from Caladraland would set both the trend and the price, and while human workmanship will struggle to achieve results even approaching a dwarf-cut gem's play with light, it will be done, and probably less on specimen of optically active minerals and a lot more on dead gods' blood fragments. Putting magical crystals into shape without reducing their magical potential will be a very specialized trade, and probably also one the dwarves will excel at, but nobody in their right mind would entrust a magical crystal to a dwarf artisan in his own underground city from which it might never re-emerge (not after the Clanking City episode...). Apostate dwarf gemcutters might enjoy an almost orthodox life style in the service of affluent masters, with specialty tinned food and similar "luxuries" offering them as close to a "natural" habitat as possible while also serving to their individual ideosyncrasies.

Dwarf- or Lhankor Mhy-trained human gem-cutters are likely to be found near affluent rulers or temples.

There probably is a dwarven equivalent to Svarovsky, producing a lot of sparkle out of rather low value ingredients. High lead content clear glass might be equally highly valued, but even mostly opaque glass with unusual pigmentation patterns is bound to end up in high end jewelry.

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17 hours ago, M Helsdon said:

Diamond cutting in India may date to the 4th century BC, but was probably happening a few centuries later - however, these stones would not have displayed the more complex cuts of the medieval period. For a long time, India was the only known source of diamonds;  Ctesias wrote that the deposits were guarded by griffins (he never traveled far himself but collected travelers' tales).

On that note, I would expect Teshnans to be reasonably skilled at diamond cutting, having learned from the Mostali of Diamond Mountain. 

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3 hours ago, Joerg said:

magical crystals

I don't really know where the line is between crystals (active or dead) and gem-quality rocks. One magician's focus may be another one's bling without attunement, cult preferences, etc. Some minerals are still palpably sacred to everyone who knows how to move POW points around. Others are just diamonds. And some in the middle are important to other people but we don't know why . . . "Falangian" diamonds as it were.

We see this line blur in the old Pavis with the "diamond" that is also a power crystal whereas rock quartzes (known in real world fringe spirituality) don't carry a magical charge. There aren't a lot of diamonds or even gems in Pavis beyond the Raus hoard, which is ambiguously specified as "uncut." Is this a reminder to players that most Gloranthan gems aren't faceted or an in-setting acknowledgement that some diamonds are cut and others are not?

Pavis is a strange city in a lot of ways. I would have expected MORE references to a crystal-working tradition there but the jewelers seem to be primarily goldsmiths and do their business off camera. Probably Mysteries of Flintnail.

I really like the decadent dwarf "gem cutters." Given the symbolic role of diamond in their society this may have what we consider sexual undertones with cutters brought in to adjust the elite and paid extremely well to be discreet. And since the Diamond Mountain people reject iron, what are they really like?

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1 hour ago, Revilo Divad Of Dyoll said:

On that note, I would expect Teshnans to be reasonably skilled at diamond cutting, having learned from the Mostali of Diamond Mountain. 

That would be a good detail about them. It does go against Diamond Mountain being Octamonist, and extremely isolationist, though. Then again, maybe the Teshnans "misusing" or "stealing" the diamond cutting technology is part of what caused them to retreat.

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2 hours ago, scott-martin said:

I don't really know where the line is between crystals (active or dead) and gem-quality rocks.

My feeling is that few of the magic crystals will be as transparent as the gem-stones we are used to e.g. from the Habsburg crown or the English crown. The Habsburg crown is rather low in faceted gems, IIRC, and has round polished sapphire and ruby if I am not failing my mineralogy completely. Opaque magic crystals are quite likely. These still can be polished to a shine, and there are other opaque minerals that are highly valued, like e.g. lapislazuli. Others like pyrite were recognized for their bling but mainly used to strike fires.

 

2 hours ago, scott-martin said:

One magician's focus may be another one's bling without attunement, cult preferences, etc. Some minerals are still palpably sacred to everyone who knows how to move POW points around. Others are just diamonds. And some in the middle are important to other people but we don't know why . . . "Falangian" diamonds as it were.

Just because something is a scarce resource doesn't automatically create a high demand, true.

2 hours ago, scott-martin said:

We see this line blur in the old Pavis with the "diamond" that is also a power crystal whereas rock quartzes (known in real world fringe spirituality) don't carry a magical charge. There aren't a lot of diamonds or even gems in Pavis beyond the Raus hoard, which is ambiguously specified as "uncut." Is this a reminder to players that most Gloranthan gems aren't faceted or an in-setting acknowledgement that some diamonds are cut and others are not?

Pavis is a strange city in a lot of ways. I would have expected MORE references to a crystal-working tradition there but the jewelers seem to be primarily goldsmiths and do their business off camera. Probably Mysteries of Flintnail.

I'd rather blame the rigors of survival. Gem-cutting is not an activity that puts food into your belly during nomad or troll occupation. As soon as the walls broke, this craft was doomed among the Pavisite humans.

The Flintnail dwarves presumably are some variation on rock mostali. What caste was Angarko from Bluesmoke?

 

2 hours ago, scott-martin said:

I really like the decadent dwarf "gem cutters." Given the symbolic role of diamond in their society this may have what we consider sexual undertones with cutters brought in to adjust the elite and paid extremely well to be discreet. And since the Diamond Mountain people reject iron, what are they really like?

I seem to recall that they were visually different from the Greatway and Nidan dwarf stereotypes encountered aboveground - swarthier, smaller, more crumpled faces. Still, dwarves don't have to be Openhandist to trade with non-dwarves for stuff they lack or desire.

And what were their northern cousins like before an army of dragons destroyed their tunnel city? Shadows of Erebor in easternmost Pent?

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On 3/18/2019 at 9:16 PM, RHW said:

I would think this is a Dwarf Thing and a Dwarf Thing only. Most gemstones in Glorantha are probably polished with some natural faceting, but not cut. If it's cut, it was probably cut by Mostali and either stolen or used as trade goods.

If there are any cults that can cut diamonds other than Mostali, I'd put my money on Third Eye Blue.

Volcano Gods like Vestakarthan, Lodril, Caladara&Aurelion and by extension Argan Argar (Volcano Slave, cut this for me!) might be able to shape diamonds by magic rather than tools. 

Sorcerers could create facets by using Form/Set Diamond.

Gem carving was was a known art in ancient world, eg.

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Roman amethyst carving of Caracalla.

 

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Etruscan Satyr.

But diamond cutting seems to have been invented later. The sorcery angle was something that I hadn't thought about :)

 

On 3/18/2019 at 10:52 PM, M Helsdon said:

Diamond cutting in India may date to the 4th century BC, but was probably happening a few centuries later - however, these stones would not have displayed the more complex cuts of the medieval period. For a long time, India was the only known source of diamonds;  Ctesias wrote that the deposits were guarded by griffins (he never traveled far himself but collected travelers' tales).

I haven't read much about this, but none of my sources say that the ancient Indians knew how to cut diamonds. Would you mind sharing your sources? Or do you mean that they knew how to polish the facets by rubbing diamond against diamond?

 

On 3/19/2019 at 5:45 PM, Sir_Godspeed said:

That would be a good detail about them. It does go against Diamond Mountain being Octamonist, and extremely isolationist, though. Then again, maybe the Teshnans "misusing" or "stealing" the diamond cutting technology is part of what caused them to retreat.

The Diamond Mountain dwarves are the most isolationist of all dwarves, but stealing knowledge is the stuff of Heroes, so perhaps it has happened. And there's also this excerpt about Teshnos from the Guide p. 436:


Sabzevar: (small city): This city is sacred to Solf and his many wives and daughters. It was founded in the God Time by a demigod Hero who first stole the secrets of metal-working from the dwarves of Diamond Mountain. Each year, the priests of Solf present annual payment to the gates of Diamond Mountain in compensation for this ancient crime; each year, the payment is taken without response by the dwarves.

 

On 3/19/2019 at 5:04 PM, scott-martin said:

I don't really know where the line is between crystals (active or dead) and gem-quality rocks. One magician's focus may be another one's bling without attunement, cult preferences, etc. Some minerals are still palpably sacred to everyone who knows how to move POW points around. Others are just diamonds. And some in the middle are important to other people but we don't know why . . . "Falangian" diamonds as it were.

We see this line blur in the old Pavis with the "diamond" that is also a power crystal whereas rock quartzes (known in real world fringe spirituality) don't carry a magical charge. There aren't a lot of diamonds or even gems in Pavis beyond the Raus hoard, which is ambiguously specified as "uncut." Is this a reminder to players that most Gloranthan gems aren't faceted or an in-setting acknowledgement that some diamonds are cut and others are not?

Pavis is a strange city in a lot of ways. I would have expected MORE references to a crystal-working tradition there but the jewelers seem to be primarily goldsmiths and do their business off camera. Probably Mysteries of Flintnail.

I really like the decadent dwarf "gem cutters." Given the symbolic role of diamond in their society this may have what we consider sexual undertones with cutters brought in to adjust the elite and paid extremely well to be discreet. And since the Diamond Mountain people reject iron, what are they really like?

Hah, the uncut diamonds and the carved ruby wand of the Raus hoard were exactly what made me post this thread.

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I searched the guide for gems and diamonds, and it does seem like diamond cutting is mainly a dwarf business, eg:

P. 14 description of trade goods: diamonds (especially Falangian Diamonds) and other gemstones from the mines of the dwarves

P. 250 Galeros Highpeak, Governor of Caladraland: Galeros was the first governor chosen by the clan chiefs after Belintar’s disappearance. He refused to relinquish the Diamond Diadem given by the dwarves to the First King and seeks to make himself king of Caladraland. Galeros resides in Low Temple.

P. 416 Fornoar: The northernmost Nidan River Valley is a fertile region contested by trolls (from Guhan), elves (from the Erontree Forest), dwarves (from the Nidan Mountains), and humans (from Arolanit, Tanisor, and Ralios). Many claim to rule the region but no one really does. The valley is sometimes called the Mostali Gutter, for the Mostali of Nida dump their refuse upriver of here. This is a source of wealth to settlers and adventurers who wander amidst the rubble seeking diamond chips, slag, and discarded dwarven tools and constructs.

P. 471 Gems: Precious (diamonds, emeralds, rubies, and sapphires) and semi-precious stones (such as amethyst, hematite, lapis lazuli, and malachite) are used to make jewelry or other decorations. The dwarves are the primary source of gems. Gems are in high demand in every region of Glorantha.

 

The only non-dwarf diamonds I found were the following:

P. 335 Diamond Hills: In 920, the great Orlanthi Hero Alakoring Dragonbreaker fought Drang the Diamond Storm Dragon hand to claw and wind to wind, until the Hero struck the dragon through its one true place and killed it. The broken stones of the dragon still litter the “sparkling lands” of Aggar.

P. 488 Eastern Islands: Lugash (large city): The capital of Halmahera, this city is ruled by the Kurfilli Dala, the hereditary High Priestess of the local temple to Laraloori. She is the guardian of the magical Dawn Stone, a huge pink diamond presented to her ancestors by the goddess Thella. Lugash is a major center of perfume making in the East Islands.

P. 730 Red Moon: Zaytenera’s Palace (Plain of Glory): This is the only white spot which is visible on the surface of the Red Moon. It is called the Diamond Diadem, and also the White Palace. Up close we see that the palace is a huge crystalline structure whose only permanent inhabitants sit motionless in luminous meditation chambers.

Of course the Red Moon palace and Drang might have not been literally made of diamonds, and the Dawn Stone might have been made by dwarves.

 

And in Glorantha, unlike in Terra, there are materials that are even harder than diamonds; the Truestone and its refined form, Adamant. So perhaps some temple jewelers could have access to the temple's Truestone when they are carving diamonds for the High Priest or the main altar etc.

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1 hour ago, Brootse said:

diamonds (especially Falangian Diamonds)

While the Falangian is an in joke for fans and might figure in long-term development revelations I wonder if it's simply the trade name of faceted stones or even decorative glass the dwarves sell us ignorant yokels.

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4 hours ago, Brootse said:

The Diamond Mountain dwarves are the most isolationist of all dwarves, but stealing knowledge is the stuff of Heroes, so perhaps it has happened. And there's also this excerpt about Teshnos from the Guide p. 436:


Sabzevar: (small city): This city is sacred to Solf and his many wives and daughters. It was founded in the God Time by a demigod Hero who first stole the secrets of metal-working from the dwarves of Diamond Mountain. Each year, the priests of Solf present annual payment to the gates of Diamond Mountain in compensation for this ancient crime; each year, the payment is taken without response by the dwarves.

Oh, that's a neat detail. Definitely possible that this hypothetically includes diamond-cutting or gemworking in a more general sense. Or some other city's hero did it.

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8 hours ago, Brootse said:

I haven't read much about this, but none of my sources say that the ancient Indians knew how to cut diamonds. Would you mind sharing your sources? Or do you mean that they knew how to polish the facets by rubbing diamond against diamond?

Probably the latter.

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The splitting of diamonds using a directed force along one of its crystal planes is essentially the application of a flint knapping technique to the diamond, and one that doesn't rely much on hardness but on natural surfaces that can be revealed.

Rubbing diamond against diamond is the only known way to grind diamond (although nowadays the diamonds you grind with are minuscule ones strewn over (and slowly worked into) a rotating metal disk). By applying the grinding to the edges of the octahedron, you get the octagonal pyramid that forms the long end of a brilliant. By rounding off the square from the splitting and the edges around it, you slowly approach something like the brilliant shape with its internal reflections that create the gloss that is valued in clear diamonds.

 

Gem carving appears to be quite ancient. The Griffin Warrior agate gem from Pylos has a level of detail that is hard to perceive with the unaided eye, and must have been even harder to produce. Agate is a fairly hard mineral sillica glass, similar to jade. My main exposure to it is as mortars and pistils or ball mills for grinding other minerals down.

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Caldara & Aurelion used to get the Diamondedge spell, sort of a super-Bladesharp, so they might be able to make diamond-edged blades and cast the Diamondedge spell on them to cut diamonds. I vaguely remember something about Caladra & Aurelion getting Diamonds from Mostal, but that is just a vague memory.

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