Lady Bracknell was yesterday apprised of the astonishing (to her, at least) fact that Young Master Marmite
was entirely ignorant of the properties (and, more specifically, the colour) of malachite*. Further probing revealed that this woeful dearth of knowledge is not restricted to malachite, but extends to the full range of semi-precious stones.
(Admittedly, Master Marmite is able to recognise amber when he sees it. Although her ladyship is unsure whether he has always
been able to identify amber, or whether his familiarity with it stems from her own fondness for wearing jewellery fashioned from that stone-which-is-not-really-a-stone-at-all-but-which-is-in-fact-fossilised-tree-resin.)
Had she thought about the matter at all, Lady Bracknell would have assumed that an interest in stones was moderately universal. But it seems that she would have been mistaken. When tasked with classifying the stones his garden, Master Marmite replied that they were,
"Just stony stones. Made of stone."
This would seem to confirm Lady Bracknell's long-held suspicion that her younger self was not like other children. When other young gels were interested in plastic dolls clothed primarily in a particularly migraine-inducing shade of violent pink, the young Lady Bracknell yearned for a rock tumbler. These devices are costly, however, so her ladyship's esteemed parents did not purchase one for her.
In retrospect, this was probably a good
thing. Although the chips of rock produced by a tumbling machine are undeniably beautiful in themselves, the fashion at the time was to glue them onto quite unspeakably ugly mounts fashioned from that most unattractive of metals, stainless steel. Lady Bracknell notes that, although many sartorial horrors from the decade which style forgot have recently been reintroduced (a case in point being the never-less-than-hideous poncho), we have at least been spared the revival of stainless steel pendants. Stainless steel now seems to be largely confined to the production of cutlery, for which relief much thanks.
But Lady Bracknell, even in her salad days, was tenacious in her interests. Her fascination with semi-precious stones was not dimmed merely because she did not have the means to polish fragments of them herself. Why, even their very names have a beauty all their own, viz: rhodocrisite; aventurine; sodalite; lace agate; howlite; snowflake obsidian; chalcedony; haematite; azurite; chrysoprase; and the exotic lapiz lazuli.
Not only are all these stones, and many others, extremely beautiful, they also have the benefit of being very much cheaper than their precious cousins (emeralds, rubies, sapphires &c) . Even when they are made up into bold and dramatic items of adornment, they therefore remain within the reach of even a fairly modest purse. Why wear a miniscule chip of diamond when you can wear a glossy and sumptuous necklace of less costly stones?
* Just in case other readers are as non-plussed as was Master Marmite by Lady Bracknell's references to malachite, here is a photograph of a rather fine cabochon.