Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 56.djvu/90

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

The Wisconsin Geological and Natural History Survey is now interesting itself in the problem of the diamonds, and has undertaken the task of disseminating information bearing on the subject to the people who reside near the "kettle moraine." With the co-operation of a number of mineralogists who reside near this "diamond belt," it offers to make examination of the supposed gem stones which may be collected.

The success of this undertaking will depend upon securing the co-operation of the people of the morainal belt. Wherever gravel ridges have there been opened in cuts it would be advisable to look for diamonds. Children in particular, because of their keen eyes and abundant leisure, should be encouraged to search for the clear stones.

The serious defect in this plan is that it trusts to inexperienced persons to discover the buried diamonds which in the "rough" are probably unlike anything that they have ever seen. The first result of the search has been the collection of large numbers of quartz pebbles, which are everywhere present but which are entirely valueless. There are, however, some simple ways of distinguishing diamonds from quartz.

Diamonds never appear in thoroughly rounded forms like ordinary pebbles, for they are too hard to be in the least degree worn by contact with their neighbors in the gravel bed. Diamonds always show, moreover, distinct forms of crystals, and these generally bear some resemblance to one of the forms figured. They are never in the least degree like crystals of quartz, which are, however, the ones most frequently confounded with them. Most of the Wisconsin diamonds have either twelve or forty-eight faces. Crystals of most minerals are bounded by plane surfaces—that is to say, their faces are flat—the diamond, however, is inclosed by distinctly curving surfaces.

The one property of the diamond, however, which makes it easy of determination is its extraordinary hardness—greater than that of any other mineral. Put in simple language, the hardness of a substance may be described as its power to scratch other substances when drawn across them under pressure. To compare the hardness of two substances we should draw a sharp point of one across a surface of the other under a pressure of the fingers, and note whether a permanent scratch is left. The harder substances will always scratch the softer, and if both have the same hardness they may be made to mutually scratch each other. Since diamond, sapphire, and ruby are the only minerals which are harder than emery they are the only ones which, when drawn across a rough emery surface, will not receive a scratch. Any stone which