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three years of forced labor in Angola, and in the second offense, ten years. From this last punishment was also possible to punish the master of the slave, in whose possession were these precious stones. In the same spirit, other laws had been drafted, with which Pombal wanted to guarantee the king the exclusive profit of diamonds.

Diamond district

With minor modifications, these same laws were in effect as we traveled through the Diamantino District. Manuel Ferreira da Camara Bittencourt was a quartermaster at the time of our stay in Brazil, and Sa, born Brazilian, a graduate of our immortal Werner's school, who traveled in Germany, Hungary, Italy, France, and England, and was known to mineralogists for some works of value. He endeavored to make our stay pleasant and profitable while we were delayed there. He prepared a house especially for us and insisted that we share the meals of his kind family. Evidence of his interest in science was proven by his postponement of the annual shipment of washed diamonds to Rio de Janeiro to allow us to carry out our scientific examination.

To this end, a session of the Diamantina Board was convened, to which we were invited. The entire collection was removed from the safe place and presented to the assistants. It consisted of 9,396 carats and 2 grains (1), the stones being separated into twelve lots in various red silk bags. The classification is made by means of a can of eleven overlapping compartments, fitted with sieves with holes of various sizes where the stones are placed, so that the smaller diamonds gather in the lower compartment, and the larger ones are on top. These are the first three lots, each of which must weigh more than three carats (2). In the first bag were the largest stones weighing more than eight carats. There were eleven of them, and among them one the size of a large hazelnut, with the weight of three octaves and fourteen and a half grains. It had a regular octahedron shape, which lacked a third part at one end, and was of beautiful scintillation and greenish color.


(I) 1 carat = 1.99 grams.
(2) Diamonds are carat-weighted, of which 17½ weigh one octave, just as it is 32 pennies or 70 grains. One carat is on average 8 $ 000. The value of the diamonds cited here (9,396 carats) was therefore 75: 168 $ 000. As can be seen from the tables inserted at the end of this chapter (Note I), the sum of all diamonds obtained from the regional administration until 1818 was 1,298,037 carats; During the period of the diamond washes contractors, the government registered information about 1,700 carats (a very low number). These installments give a total of 2,998,037 carats or £ 1,301, the value of which, as quoted above, would be 23,984: 296 $ 000. This sum does not seem to correspond to the large expenses of the administration, and for this reason the diamond extraction was abandoned by the government, a few years after our stay in Tejuco and leased to various independent contractors.