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[Tidbits] The Steam-Powered Diamond Cutting Factory


We live in an age of technology. The time of the Luddites is a part
of a fast evanescing belief system–or lack thereof–that runs
parallel to the convictions of those that once believed the world was
flat and that bigfoot roams the forests and that we are nothing more
than harvest for hungry aliens who are waiting for this current crop
of humans to become numerous enough for reaping and roasting and
putting on a dinner table to be served as a delicacy to wealthy
aliens on a distant world who can afford such luxuries. Not much
different than us–I imagine–when we order escargots at a fine
French restaurant.

But for those of us who are hip. who are au-courant with the modern
world. who identify in no mean way with the technophiles of our
times. for you I have a tale of progress. And since. for the past
fifty seven plus some odd years I have been connected to the jewelry
and diamond industries. I shall present my tale with an eye to an
industry I have come–quite as a surprise to me–to love.

And so. let me speak to you of diamond-cutting as a trade… and of
it’s technological spurt over time to a full grown computerized
presence. In the old days–not too sure I know how many of you
remember the old days. I know I do–but in the old days. in the old
old days. before even my old days… diamond-cutting was a handicraft
industry and those who plied their trade usually did it at home. This
was before the advent of practical electrical usage. Women often
cranked the wheel by hand that enabled the diamond-cutter to do his

And then–some time around 1822–horsepower came along and factories
grew out of the muck of hard labor. and technology projected its
outspread hand up through the earth and grasped for the heavens. And
as the horse came. the horse went. And the outstretched hand reached
higher out of the earth till the whole arm and then the torso and
then the full-bodied representation of the technophile–still in
diapers–cried its presence to the heavens in order to be heard. and
the steam engine made its appearance.

And the diamond cutter left his lonely hovel. and relieved his wife
from cranking the wheel. and he put on his bowler hat and his suit
and spats and strolled in to town in order to ply his trade in the
first steam-powered diamond-cutting factory.

Oh it was a sight to behold. Modern benches and steam machines and
jigs and more. Bruting tools and Diamond Scaifes and Dops and Girdle
Markers. The list went on. And by now Technology had cast off its
diapers and was now wearing bib work pants and rolled up sleeves and
was raising its head to the heavens again. letting out a
full-throated roar to let the world know he was coming. and he would
let the laggers fall by the wayside and he would hold no truck with
those who would not or could not keep up with him. And he let out
another mighty roar to let those who heard him know that he would
soon be full grown. And he began to stride slowly forward toward the
future before breaking into a full run.

Oh. the products of technology’s efforts were too beautiful to
describe. It’s best I show you. So. by a show of hands. don’t be shy
now. who amongst you would like to see a model of the first
steam-powered diamond-cutting factory which came into existence
around 1840 and which now resides in the Mus=ee du Diamant, in
Antwerp, Belgium. the city and country of my birth.

Okay. You know where to go. Home page.
Scroll down. Left side. [Tidbits]. The old wizard. Click.

And there ya have it. That’s it for this week folks. Catch you all
next week. Benjamin Mark


Simply amazing!




What an exotic and entertaining piece of writing. And, how
fascinating to learn that you were born in Antwerp and your use of
the English language is better than 90% of those in this country.

Thank you, MA


Good Lord! Between the steam engine and the bruting it must have bee
so loud.

-Jo Haemer