Hidden secrets of our home city
If ever there was a jewel in the crown, this is it! On July 10, 1914, King George V and Queen Mary visited Dundee. The purpose of their trip was to lay the foundation stone of the Caird Hall, the city’s grand new concert and events venue.
During their visit, the Royal couple took part in what was then a unique ceremony. At Ashton Works in the Hawkhill area of Dundee, they each pressed electronic buttons under the watchful eye of benefactor and jute baron Sir James Key Caird (18371916), who gifted the venue to the city.
The buttons triggered the lowering of the foundation stone into place in the Greenmarket region of the city, which was more than a mile away.
King George pressed an emerald button and Queen Mary pressed a jade button. Both of the buttons were then presented to Their Majesties as a memento of the occasion.
Queen Mary accepted the jade stone but the King handed the emerald back to Sir James Caird, with the instruction that it should remain in the hands of the city for its benefit.
Emeralds, as with other gems, come in a variety of different sizes and forms. Those used in jewellery are typically very clear and although not often “perfect”, they do have brilliance similar to rubies and sapphires.
The stone incorporated into the Chain of Office is a grand example of a cloudy emerald. These are very rarely used to form gemstones and remarkably, the Dundee emerald is known to be the second-largest emerald ever discovered.
It is so rare, in fact, that it is almost impossible to put a realistic value on the stone, making it one of Dundee’s true hidden gems.
Susan McMullan finds there’s more to the home city of the “Friend” than jute, jam and journalism!