On the occasion of the wedding of the Crown Prince of Japan in 1993, the Empress of Japan presented to Princess Masako a ruby ring that she in turn had received from the Empress Dowager. In England, the Crown Jewels are on display in the Tower of London. The 108-carat Koh-i-noor Diamond from Golconda, India, was removed from the crown used in the 1911 coronation of Queen Mary and reset in the crown used for the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953, where it sparkles today. The Cullinan III and IV diamonds, cut from a 3,106-carat rough diamond-the largest ever found-were also removed from the crown of Queen Mary and are now worn by Queen Elizabeth. These were prime examples of gemstones of great value passing from one generation to the next, being reset and used again. More

than at the time of purchase, the luxury of gemstones is probably first fully realizes when they are reset after being passed down to the next generation after years of ownership. I have heard that even in Japan, it has become common for young women to wear jewelry passed down from their mothers. Though this custom is still not nearly as widespread as in the West, it appears to be headed in that direction.

It is said that many status of ancient Rome, originally cast in metal, were melted down and made into weapons. Stone sculptures that were made at the time to replace them are currently displayed in the Vatican Museum. Similarly, jewelry metals such as gold and platinum are often melted down and reused at the time of resetting, but gemstones are reused in the same form. Even in this aspect, one cannot help admiring the timeless power of gemstones.

At the height of World War II, in 1944, the Japanese commerce authority confiscated precious metals. My father was involved in the purchase of the gold, platinum, and such being sent to the Takashimaya Department Store in Nihonbashi, Tokyo. Apparently it was a fairly large-scale operation, with some ten craftsmen being assigned to remove the diamonds set in jewelry such as rings and obi clips. Though the sale of gemstones was not compulsory, as was the case with precious metals, the prevalent attitude of frugality and sacrifice during this period prompted 99 out of 100 people to sell their gems as well. After the war, standard-quality one-carat diamonds that were purchased for 2,700 yen rose in price to 300,000 yen by the end of 1948.