Ithanian Gem Boom
|Ithanian Gem Boom|
|Event Name||Ithanian Gem Boom|
|Dates and Times||Approximately 150 - 180 AC|
|Location||Regalian Archipelago, namely Girobalda, Pays Sud and Loiree|
|People Involved||Ithania, Regalian Empire|
The Ithanian Gem Boom refers a period defined by the discovery of gemstone deposits in the Girobalda region of the Regalian Archipelago. The event sparked the migration of Ithanian citizens to the surrounding regions and the subsequent development of the Loiree and Pays Sud lordships as urban centers. To this day, the Gem Boom defines the local economies as well as the general Ithanian sentiment in the Empire, which remained to overflow with immense wealth in the following decades.
As part of the Archipelago’s unification, the Girobaldan region willingly subjugated itself to the Regalian Empire in 112 AC. Decades of infrastructural development followed during which the region, similar and parallel to future Galloway, was brought on par with the Empire’s heartlands. In the 130s AC, Imperial surveyors were deployed to the 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 Vladimir Kade doubled the Empire’s population and established an exchange of migration and trade across the Western Sea. Immigrants from the west gravitated into regions with a familiar climate to their homeland, and the Ithanian founded their townships and hamlets along a horizontal belt stretching from their arrival ports in Loiree to the northern coasts of Girobalda.
The Jewel Craze
In 155 AC, the Ithanian colonists purchased a large swathe of land from the Lord of Girobalda. The territory remained irrelevant in the eyes of the lord, resulting in a mistake during the transaction where he referred to the northern coastline of Girobalda as “those southern lands,” translated to “Ces Pays du Sud” or “Pays Sud,” in short. The colonists built their mining infrastructure soon after and began extracting gems from the mountains. Where the Regalian Empire lacked attention and care for the gemstones, the Ithanian immigrants arrived with centuries worth of mastery in jewelcrafting retained from their days beneath the Elven 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 the various lands, conquered or assimilated during the Empire’s archipelago conquest, flocked to Pays Sud to commission circlets, crowns, scepters, and family heirlooms. The rapid development in jewelcrafting also resulted in a steady increase in quality. The situation stretched to such a radical point where certain Dragenthaler rulers ended up with five or seven crowns ordered over the course of three decades, simply because they found the Pays Sud craftsmen could produce something superior to their previous craftsmanship. Today it is estimated that at least one-third of all heirloom jewelry belonging to the Archipelago nobility was crafted during the Gem Boom. The most notable gems involved in the Boom were: the Emerald, which 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
Although the gems were restricted to the Pays Sud region and the rest of Girobalda, the economic boom soon spread to the rest of the Empire. The newly settled regions were sparse both in food and the actual metals designated to frame the jewels. Whole trains of grain wagons left Anglia to feed the migrants who still were not self-sufficient, and the new industry relied on the freshly conquered Calemberger regions from the Second Skagger Holy War. Land trade developed in a U shape across the whole of the Archipelago, where both ends streamed their respective goods to the middle. The trade was, of course, heavily taxed by local rulers in the lands therebetween, namely Dragenthal and Montania. Most of the profits earned streamed back to the landholders in the form of taxation, who then spent their newfound wealth on nothing more than the Jewel Craze radiating from Pays Sud. This resulted in a circular trade where the Archipelago regurgitated its wealth repeatedly for an economic miracle that transformed a freshly unified Archipelago into a highly-developed Empire, which would soon become the supreme power in global trade. The wealth of Ithanian investors grew exponentially, soon joined by a freshly born finance industry in Dragenthal and Montania, whose simple goal was to handle investment banking and leech off the sudden growth, by both feeding from it and feeding into it with fractional reserves. The Gem Boom gradually subsided by the turn of 200 AC into a more laid-back development, which eventually crashed in the years leading up to the Regalian Pessimism and the Drachenwald Crisis, heralding a shift in tone to a long-lasting recession.
The Gem Boom cemented the presence of Ithanian colonies within the Regalian Archipelago. The central region of the Gem Boom, Pays Sud, rose into one of the industrial heartlands within the Empire and a melting pot of Ithanian, Daendroquean and Dressolini culture. The ports of Loiree were urbanized by the turn of the century into the most prominent western trade havens of the Empire, whereas the Loiree heartlands became a sort-of “Ithania minor”, who settled into the region with plantations and vineyards. The zenith of cultural persistence in the region was the semi-annexation of the Vixhall region. The area remained largely unpopulated due to its uselessness: a valley of swamps, forests, and bogs. The Ithanian nobility turned the whole region into a single patch of lavish gardens and palaces as a lasting landmark of the sheer amount of wealth that had piled up during the Gem Boom.
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 over forty years at the time. The freed up manpower in the Calem regions fuelled directly into an immense conquering army that would go on performing a whole series of conquests to establish the Empire’s presence in all corners of the world from Daenshore, through the Ellador colonies, and to New Ceardia. Whether these were results of the Gem Boom or the triumphs of the Calem armies remains a hot debate between the Calemberg and Ithanian lobbies. In general, it is a fair estimate that the Gem Boom and the subsequent economic miracle slingshotted the Empire thirty years ahead of all other nations present in the world, especially in regards to society, development, sciences, and general well-being.
- The current crown of the Ithanian Grand Sovereign was crafted in 192 AC, in Pays Sud.
- Gems from the Boom are all warm-colored, lending an easy way to identify proper Pays Sud jewelry.