Ithanian Gem Boom
|Ithanian Gem Boom|
|Event Name||Ithanian Gem Boom|
|Dates and Times||Approximately 150 - 180 AC|
|People Involved||Ithania, Regalian Empire|
The Ithanian Gem Boom refers a period defined by the discovery of gemstone deposits in southern and southwestern regions of the Regalian Archipelago. The event sparked the migration of Ithanian citizens to the surrounding regions and the subsequent development of grand urban centers where none had stood mere decades before. To this day, the Gem Boom defines local history, where many families can trace their current opulent status, and also lay claim to creating the items beloved by many other noble families.
As part of the Archipelago’s unification, polities in the region which became Girobalda willingly subjugated themselves to the Regalian Empire in 112 AC. Decades of infrastructural development followed during which the region was brought on par with the Empire’s heartlands. In the 130s AC, Imperial surveyors were deployed to the northern Girobaldan mountains with high hopes of finding valuable minerals. At the time, however, “valuable” had a different definition in Regalia. From 113 AC onward, the Empire was pushed into near-eradication of all its natural resources in the First and Second Skagger Holy Wars. The Empire was desperate to find Iron and Coal, and the discovery of vast gem deposits instead was only minimally developed. The subjugation of Ithania in the 150s AC by Nicholas Kade doubled the Empire’s population and established an exchange of population and goods across western waters. Immigrants from these lands gravitated into regions with a familiar climate to their homeland, and the Ithanian founded their townships along a horizontal belt above the lands of Girobalda, expanding the lands of Vixhall, and into central territories which later became Lorhaus and Osteirmark.
The Jewel Craze
In 155 AC, Ithanian colonists purchased the rights to mine a large swathe of land from the rulers of Girobalda, and rapidly had mining infrastructure built to begin delving into the mountains. While the Regalian Empire lacked attention and care for the gemstones, the Ithanian immigrants arrived with centuries worth of mastery in jewel-crafting retained from their days beneath the Allorn Empire. A vast amount of Ithanian jewelry flooded the Regalian markets during the next decade, and a whole craze for the precious gemstones developed within the Empire. Nobility from various lands, conquered or assimilated during the Empire’s archipelago conquest, flocked to Vixhall to commission circlets, crowns, scepters, and family heirlooms. The rapid development in jewel-crafting also resulted in a steady increase in quality. The situation stretched to such a radical point where certain Caerden rulers ended up with multiples of the same basic objects, simply because they found the Ithanian craftsmen could produce something superior to the works of existing workers. The most notable gems involved in the Boom were: the Emerald, whose veins was mined completely dry within a decade; vast deposits of Kadite, similarly emptied by the turn of 200 AC; Amethyst, which grew to define the color choice of Ithanian nobility, and are still mined, and small amounts of purple-hued Ruby.
The Economic Miracle
From this point of success came a great economic boom that spread across the lands of the Empire, and even beyond. Great amounts of trade had to take place between different regions as each required something different to offer the new Ithanian nobles and those who served them in the creation of marvelous crafted items, and the Ithanians also sought out the best of foreign materials for their new cities, homes and palaces. Huge amounts of grain left Anglia to feed the slaves who mined day after day in the mines, while the gems they produced were hauled north to to be refined, cut and set in precious metals shipped from lands like those of the Wirtem, newly joined to the Regalian Empire. Taxes from all of this trade was also highly lucrative for the nobles, even if they did not directly engage in any of the economics that were needed for the Boom. In the end, a revitalized system of trade came to the Empire, all at the hands of Ithanians and their slaves.
Decline and Conclusion
However, almost as soon as the Boom had begun, trouble started. The Daendroque who came flooding into Girobalda rapidly took offense to the Ithanian locals, who now carted off tons of valuable material to the north for their own purposes, while the local lords only gained a fraction of the total riches through taxes on the transport of these materials, and providing the bare minimum to the slave laborers. Some more radical Daendroque detested the presence of slavery entirely, and were appalled to find it in this new land of opportunity for their kind. While these rumblings were largely just that, theft, sudden slave uprisings and more punctuated the Boom and often corresponded with slowdowns, and price fluctuations in some of the minerals. However, with time, the mines ran dry, and more and more Ithanians progressed north never to return. Some stayed, and integrated locally, turning their eyes to the lumber industry or mining for more base materials. By around 200 AC, the last of the most valuable mines were picked clean, and many Ithanian claims on mines were given to local parties instead.
Though often written down as simply a local craze for gems and jewelry, the Gem Boom changed the whole Empire permanently. The economic increases that resulted from the sudden establishment of Archipelago-wide trade contributed to the rapid end of the Skagger Wars that had been underway for decades. The trade connections the Boom helped to forge within the lands of the Wirtem helped them rapidly recover from the suffering and decay they had undergone when the Wirtemcaller Kingdom collapsed, while the Boom's overall success pushed the exploration of new lands for similar resources. However, the Boom also doubled, if not tripled, the amount of slave labor in the Regalian Archipelago, and centralized wealth that could have been spread across a grander area of the south and southwest within one people, and one strip of land. Ultimately, the Boom and its many minor or major effects became a common sparring point between the political lobbies of the Imperial Court for years to follow, though today the entire enterprise is colored with a positive tinge.
- It is estimated that at least one-third of all heirloom jewelry belonging to the Archipelago nobility was crafted during the Gem Boom. This includes some pieces claimed to be over two hundred years old, though in some cases, the piece was merely refurbished with new gems or metals overtop of an older framework.