Riou Pezzouliou. This small stream that crosses the small town of Espaly-Saint-Marcel in the vicinity of Puy-en-Velay certainly doesn't mean anything to you. And yet, you can discover some tiny precious stones in the alluvium. The place was even one of the most important deposits in Europe, long before Indian diamonds or Ceylon sapphires and other rubies appeared on the markets.
“The gem resource of this stream, an alluvial deposit of which the Croustet volcano is the source, has been known since the 13th century and supplied all of medieval Europe,”
says Éloïse Gaillou, curator at the Mineralogy Museum Mines Paris Tech.
The sapphires, garnets and hyacinths of Velay have been found on rings, crosses or reliquaries in the treasures of the papacy, in those of the abbey of Saint-Denis and of the kings of France.
If these deposits are now almost exhausted, they were the object of massive exploitation until the beginning of the 20th century.
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