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Archive for March, 2007

One of my friends asked me back in December what I knew about a recently discovered red beryl (bixbite) deposit found in 2003 in Madagascar. He showed me a pinkish-purplish oval faceted stone that he claimed was the new bixbite material. Stop…right now… sorry for those who hate spoilers early on, but there is NO red beryl found in Madagascar…. NONE! I would like to take this moment to thank Chuck Henley for providing clear insight into this matter.

The material referred to incorrectly as bixbite is in fact a new mineral altogether! Discovered in 2003 in Madagascar is a cesium rich analog of beryl, the key word being analog.The chemical formula for the material discovered is Cs(Be2Li)Al2Si6O18. The material has been named pezzottaite, after Italian mineralogist Federico Pezzottaite. At first this material was thought to be bixbite or either a new variety of beryl, both of which are false. The determining factors for this are a) the fact that pezzottaite crystallizes in a trigonal system rather than a hexagonal system as all beryls do; and b) pezzottaite contains lithium. As we all know, the other beryls that contain lithium are… oh wait… there are none. The specific gravity of pezzottaite is much higher than that of various beryls: 3.10 vs. 2.63-2.80 (varies with species). The refractive index of pezzottaite is higher, 1.60-1.62 as compared to 1.56-1.60 for beryls (varies with species).

On the note of red beryl, let us first look at its chemical formula: Be3(Al,Mn)2Si6O18. Named after Utah mineral collector Maynard Bixby, it is agreed upon worldwide that this material is among the rarest of the rare when it comes to minerals, and the gem grade material is supercostly and almost always tends to be small when it comes to this material, as cut gems average around 0.15-0.20 cts.

Red Beryl on Rhyolitic Matrix

Red Beryl on Rhyolitic Matrix

 

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Los Tres Amigos…

So my test batch of emeralds arrived yesterday. I’m not as fond of Brazilian emeralds as I am of Colombian stones, since they are rather unorthodox if you consider the Muzo mine in Colombia as the “only correct and acceptable locations” – which I do. I also do not like Zambian emeralds from a business perspective since they are worth only a fraction of Colombian emeralds of equal quality, but I enjoy them aesthetically… but I digress. I purchased a 4.00ct, 3.45ct, and 3.40ct as trial pieces (pictured respectively below). While the darker ones appear to be heavily included, these appear to be mostly surface blemishes as the pen torch has revealed. The color of the first and third stones is breathtaking under penlight, and once the stones are blocked and cut, the results should be really nice. Emeralds, you have been chosen… prepare to meet your cutter.

4 ct rough emerald3.45ct Brazilian Emerald3.40 ct rough emerald

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Yesterday, I visited the Houston Museum of Natural Science with my friend Daniel. Now, a permanent exhibit at the museum, is the Lester and Sue Smith gem vault. Located within the vault are a number of world class jewelry pieces and unset gem specimens. The most impressive being the largest cut aquamarine in the world, the “Dom Pedro” – from of course none other than the finest aquamarine mine in the world – the Santa Maria mine in Minas Gerais, Brazil. The stone is of the finest Santa Maria blue, and stands just over 14″ tall and is an obelisk styled gem. The original crystal weighed 26 Kg and was cut in Idar-Oberstein in 1992 by the gemstone designer Bernd Munsteiner. Seeing this one gem in person, made my entire trip to Houston worthwhile, for such a piece is truly priceless in all senses of the word. Also included in the Smith gem vault are other various beryls, such as aquamarines, heliodors, and emeralds each weighing hundreds of carats. A world class oval rubellite weighing the the several hundred carat range is also on display, as are massive tsavorite garnets and paraiba tourmalines of stellar color and clarity. Several exquisite necklaces, tiaras, and rings designed by Ernesto Moreira are also displayed. In the main hall of minerals, the museum showcases world class specimens of rough crystals of all families – from beryls to native elements, from corundums to topazes. At several points in touring the collections, I was emotionally moved beyond belief at what I was standing before – separated only by a few inches of space and glass. I highly recommend this museum’s exhibits to everyone who has an appreciation for the finest examples of nature’s artwork.

Courtesy of www.khulsey.com

“Dom Pedro” Aquamarine

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A work in progress…

It will take me some time to gather my thoughts on how best to assemble this site to the benefit of all its intended viewers. Whether you are a broker or collector, the goal of this site is to focus on our commonality, and in turn further advance our knowledge and appreciation for our passion. My initial plans are to broadly cover the basics of a different mineral every week, and its applications to the gemological realm. I am considering structuring this on a thread based setup, in which each mineral will have perpetual updates. This will serve as an informative foundation upon which to further build the rest of the site. Of course updates regarding current trends, speculative trends, and jewelry ideas and information will also be included in these building blocks. Any individual who would like to showcase anything in their personal collection is more than welcome to post pictures, information, and personal thoughts on any piece of rough or faceted material. I wish to take a moment to ask everyone who is interested in any aspect of the field to provide insight on what they would like to see accomplished by this site.

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