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Monetary Values for All Spheres, Plus Extras


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Greetings, travelers, and welcome to another episode of the hottest show in the Cosmere, Argent Bothers Random Employees of Dragonsteel Entertainment until He Gets Answers: Karen Edition! This month we are talking Rosharan spheres - the currency that makes absolutely no sense, but I've been obsessing over forever!

Those of you who have been hanging out on Discord may be aware that I've been working on updating the Spheres article (which, depending on when you read this, may or may not be updated). Kind of in the middle of my work Peter randomly dropped in Reddit and canonized the weight of the gems inside the broams - 2 carats (details in this thread), which would make marks 0.5 carats, and chips 0.1 carats. Invigorated by this, I redoubled my efforts on the article, only to grow being frustrated by what I felt was a mix of contradicting information, missing information, and misleading information. Ultimately I decided to email Karen (Ahlstrom), who maintains Dragonsteel's internal Wiki, and see if she can help me figure some things out, and boy, did she deliver!

Before I spill the beans, a few quick disclaimers. A lot of this information appears to coming from Brandon's early notes, which means that:

  1. Canonicity is a little lower than that of your modern day WoB
  2. Some things may change in the future
  3. Some things have been changed since these notes. Book lore trumps early notes lore.

All this being said, let's get to the good stuff!

Karen first emailed me the following table, in response to my attempt to figure out whether all ten Polestones are used in spheres (because of an offhanded remark by Shallan in The Way of Kings where she uses "spheres of all nine colors and all three sizes" for illumination):


So that's good! It's not a 100% confirmation that all ten Polestones are used in spheres, but the fact that Brandon, at least early on, considered amethysts and garnets to both glow a light red color, combined with the absence of a light green gemstone, could easily explain Shallan's comment and kind of verify what many of us thought made sense - that all the Polestones have a corresponding sphere, even if not all of them are mentioned explicitly. 

However, as I worked on integrating this information into my page, Karen one-upped herself and dropped this bombshell (which I've translated into a table, from her original list-like email):


Look at that! Every sphere type, put into one of five price buckets, all named (though, admittedly, the names are kind of meh, so I wouldn't be surprised if Brandon either drops them completely in the future, or at least renames them; this is all early notes stuff, after all). For context, we only knew four of those before (diamonds, garnets, amethysts, and emeralds). Remember how Gaz has a bit of a gambling problem? And how his debt is 80 ruby broams? We never knew quite how much that was, but now - woah, that's a lot of money, Gaz, you've got issues! With darkeyed soldiers earning five clearmarks (equivalent to 25 diamond chips) per day, those 80 ruby broams (16,000 diamond chips) are 640-days worth of a soldier's salary! That's more than a year!

So that's awesome, and I've been really excited to not only hunt down obscure references to sphere amounts (like how, in one of her flashbacks, Shallan wants to buy some candied fruit, and it costs one diamond chip, and she hands the merchant lady an emerald mark, 250 times more than what the fruit is worth!), but there's a little more I can share with you. In addition to all the values (mind you, this is all coming from a different part of Brandon's notes), it looks like Brandon may have changed the colors of some of the gemstones, because we now have this:


The colors are just what I picked from the Wikipedia page on X11 color names. So it looks like garnet and amethyst may have changed from their (I assume) original light red to pale and deep purple respectively. Which makes fits with some small details from the books, such as how the Dustbringers were distrusted because their eyes reminded people of the Voidbringers; if amethysts, rubies, and garnets all glowed red, this distrust probably wouldn't be reserved just for the Dustbringers. 

But there you have it! I'll leave you with another reminder that a lot of this can, theoretically, change in the future, so don't you go betting 80 ruby broams on all this being final - because we now know that this is a lot of money! A few firemarks though? That wouldn't be the end of the world :)


P.S. If you want the... less curated version of this, here are Peter's Reddit comments in Arcanum, and here are Karen's.

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Wow nice, Argent! I love this. I've been wanting to know all of this for ages too so it's great that you got it! :D:D

47 minutes ago, Calderis said:

But which of the ten isn't used in spheres!?!?! 

I think the takeaway is that there's 9 colors, not that only 9 polestones are used in spheres.

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