April Speaker Meeting: The History of Gem Stones by Rachel Boothroyd

Rachael from Cooper and Tanner entertained 30 u3a members at the April Speaker meeting on the subject of gemstones. Rachael was knowledgeable and engaging, sharing insights to her role as a gemstone valuer and diamond grader.

Her improvised drawings were illustrative and her sharing of physical items all supported her stories of how gems are formed and their values in different cultures. 
There was time for a Q and A session at the end and Rachael also carried out some valuations.

We received this lovely email from Rachael after her talk.

I really enjoyed speaking to your members, and I hope they enjoyed it too. 

Two people asked me questions I couldn’t fully answer this morning, one lady asked about when hallmarking dates back to, so here is a brief explanation:

“The concept of hallmarking itself dates back to nearly 400 AD and was discovered on silver objects in Byzantine. Hallmarking, especially with regards to silver and gold wasn’t initiated until the 1300s in the UK.

History has revealed that King Edward I put a law, or statute, in place that required the testing of all silver items to ensure they met the proper standards. He then designated several expert jewellers of the time, also referred to as guardians of the craft that were responsible for testing the silver to verify pure silver content. Once this percentage had been verified, the item would be marked with a stamp depicting the head of a leopard” (this information was taken from the following website https://www.purelydiamonds.co.uk/blog/2011/09/22/the-history-of-uk-hallmarking/)

There was a gentleman that asked why Antwerp was a centre for diamonds and I have found the following website which has an excellent explanation https://www.beldiamond.com/blogs/news/why-is-antwerp-the-diamond-capital-of-the-world.

April Speaker Meeting: The History of Gem Stones