Manual Sapphire (Rare Gems Series Book 1)

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But of the details of the in situ rock occurrence whence these magnificent trophies were won we unfortunately know hardly anything, nor have we any recent descriptions by the Mineral Survey or Mining Engineer of the nature of the quarry, pits or other openings made by the early pioneers at this place. It is a curious fact that all the geological and mining men who have visited and reported on these mines, from La Touche downwards, though agreeing as to the position of the Old Mine workings, have one and all seemed to shirk any description of them.

Are they rock-face workings, irregular burrowings, tunnels, pits or what, what is their extent and how deep from the surface do they go? We simply do not know! La Touche, in his published paper simply says "here the face of the rock has been laid bare by a landslip, and at first the sapphires were taken out of the granite itself: but when I visited the mines this patch of rock had ceased to yield any for some time, nor did the closest search bring any more to light".

Labhu Ram in his report says "the Old Mine is also located in the same actinolite-tremolite mass that contains the New Mines…. No trace of pegmatite veins is found near it and the mine has not yielded any stones for very many years since the late eighties". Later on in his report he discusses the point whether or not the sapphire may have had a different source altogether to that of the New Mines "having been derived either from the garnetiferous gneiss bands found exposed above and below the mine, or directly from the actinolite-tremolite schist".

None of the others who visited the mines, including the Mining Engineer, have anything to say at all on this matter. This is all very unsatisfactory; but at least we may conclude that very large sapphire pieces were got from this point of the rectangular area mentioned above, although details as to its matrix, mode of occurrence and the nature of the workings remain obscure. Evidently, those who did have a chance to observe the workings at the Old Mine were so impressed by what was found that they completely forgot to describe the workings.

This means that we know little about how these incredible stones were obtained. Today all that remains of the Old Mine are a few shallow burrows dug into the rock. About m from the Old Mine are a series of shallow adits distributed over a small area. In the 30—40 year period during which the mines were intensively worked, Kashmir sapphires achieved a reputation second to none.

Today, with the exception of estate sales, fine Kashmir sapphires are virtually unobtainable, mute testimony of the degree to which they are coveted. Outside the collection seen in the Jammu and Kashmir State Treasury, few cut stones of greater than 65 ct have been reported Schwieger, Crystals are sometimes of enormous size. Mallet reported on one which measured 1 ft 30 cm in length. Is the Kashmir mine played out, or do riches still await those patient enough to explore further? The possible answer lies in the nature of the occurrence.

Kashmir sapphires occur as the result of pegmatites cutting through a limestone. Heat from the intrusion has resulted in metamorphism of the limestone to marble, with corundum forming at the fringes. Such heat does not normally occur in one area only. Thus the discovery of sapphire in Kashmir is possibly more widespread than what has so far been discovered.

While La Touche reported that placer yields were found to decrease at the lower end of the valley, and below the 1 m level, it is possible that he was testing only the fringes of the deposit Delmer Brown, pers. Similarly, the primary pockets in which the sapphires are found are probably scattered throughout the fringes of actinolite-tremolite band. Typically, the nature of such pocket-based occurrences is feast or famine, and history is replete with examples where such mines were abandoned just a few meters or days' work short of paydirt.

In the case of the Kashmir sapphire mine, a logical course of exploration would involve mapping the extent of the intrusions within the limestone.


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Then it would be a matter of bringing in appropriate equipment and getting down to work. As the Russians have shown with their Siberia diamond mines, extreme weather is not a barrier for those who have the drive to succeed. A road could be constructed from the mine to a lower-altitude area with plentiful water for washing the sapphire ore.

This ore could then be stockpiled in the winter months, for later washing in summer. But with the Kashmir mines, location and access are just convenient excuses for a lack of action. The real barriers to mining in this area are the backward economic policies of the central government, and the political problems which have resulted from the conflicts with Pakistan. Until these problems are solved, the famous sapphires of Kashmir will continue to repose in their icy tomb. Kashmir sapphires range from near colorless through a deep blue, with the occasional pink to purple stone found.

The large fine gems of years gone by were generally cut from the blue areas of much larger crystals. Those specimens that possess smooth faces contain this blue layer intact. However, many pieces feature heavily corroded surfaces and thus the blue layer is only partially present, if at all. The following description of Kashmir sapphire by Jaipur gem trader, Rajroop Tank tallies well with the author's experience:. In the Jewel trade it is customary to attach the appellation 'Kashmir' to any fine Sapphire regardless of its geographical origin. This is an indication of the outstanding qualities of Kashmir Sapphires.

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The colour of these Sapphires resembles the beautiful hue of the peacock's neck. Even a small concentration of that fine colour illuminates the entire structure of the Gem. It may, however, be noted that the product of the Kashmir mines suffers more from flaws and blemishes than that of many other mines. The Gems of Kashmir mines often have window, hole, or cavity in their texture, and they also suffer at times from ambiguity of colours. It requires special skill to cut the Jewels as the crystals are covered with a hard crust of earth and it is difficult to know beforehand the internal structure.

If a specimen is free from cavity or window and does not exhibit ambiguity of colour it can be cut into an excellent Gem. The produce of the old mine in Kashmir did not suffer from so many blemishes, but the Sapphires of that mine are no longer available…. Kashmir Sapphires generally remain thick after cutting.

Stars are not found in them. Sapphires found at the New Mines differ in one important respect from those of the Old Mine, and this difference is important in understanding Kashmir material. New Mine material comes in two types, both of which are coated with a tenacious white clay.

List of Gemstones: Precious and Semi-Precious Stones - International Gem Society

In almost all, the blue color is found mainly at the outer crystal edges, especially the tips. Virtually all are spindle-shaped hexagonal bipyramids, as shown in Figure 6. Other than the blue tips and faces, the rest of the crystal is typically colorless the New Mines also produce the occasional stone with blue tips and a pink core.

What this means is fine blue stones must be cut from the tips of the crystals, similar to the way in which Sri Lanka's ottu sapphires are cut. Witness the statement by Parkinson :. I am quite satisfied that many of the so-called "Kashmir sapphires" are actually of Ceylon origin; certainly they are not mined in Kashmir. To this author, it seems that Parkinson saw a stone that looked like it was from Ceylon, and so assumed it was.

Many faceted Kashmir sapphires bear a certain resemblance to Sri Lankan ottu stones. One of the ways in which ottu stones are typically cut is to lay the table facet parallel to a pyramid face, along the intensely colored area at that face see Figure 9. While this produces a larger stone, it also produces an overly blackish color, as well as losing the velvety softness. Many Kashmir sapphires display this color. Note also the blackish color, which many Kashmir sapphires display.

Photo: Mouawad, Geneva. In the vast majority of New Mine and placer stones, the blue faces have been corroded away. Rather than having flat, well-formed faces, most have deeply pitted faces; thus the colored areas are, by and large, missing due to surface corrosion. When the faces are intact, fine stones can be cut. This fact alone may account for the great scarcity of fine Kashmir sapphires, as the Old Mine, where evenly-colored stones were apparently more common, has produced virtually nothing since Probably the only detailed description ever recorded of Old Mine material was that of Grahame Young of Kulu, which is reproduced here:.

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The above was written prior to the discovery of either the New Mine or valley placers. Extrapolating, we can surmise that at least some Old Mine material contained substantial internal coloration nos. From this location of color in the crystal, we can further extrapolate that the polished shapes of those Old Mine stones with substantial internal color would differ from New Mine stones.

In fact, many of the Kashmir sapphires today sold at auction are cut as "sugarloaf" cabochons. While this is in contrast to Tank's statement that Kashmir sapphires generally remain thick after cutting, he was probably familiar only with New Mine material. The author's own experience with New Mine material also agrees with Tank's, in that gems are often strongly zoned and cut with deep pavilions, similar to Sri Lankan ottu sapphires. But apparently the Old Mine produced some material which would allow both more even coloration and, thus, stones cut to normal proportions. In summary, it is impossible to say, based on evenness of coloration and shape, that an individual stone came from the Old or New Mine.

Both mines produced the ottu -type material so similar to that from Sri Lanka. But based on the historical record, the Old Mine appears to have produced far more of the top-grade, evenly-colored material. Heat treatment can produce dramatic results with Kashmir sapphire. One large lot examined by the author both before and after burning showed a success rate better than even the best Sri Lankan geuda material.

Nearly every piece had been transformed to a rich blue color. Why aren't we seeing this material in the market? The answer is simple. No rough. Even low-grade material is scarce, and no mining is being done at present. Kashmir sapphires bear a strong resemblance to those of Sri Lanka, with almost all being spindle-shaped hexagonal bipyramids. Some of these are flattened slightly.

However, the Kashmir stones often consist of intergrowths, with one crystal twisted around another, or even as multiple intergrowths of as many as ten or more crystals grown together in a single mass. Kashmir sapphire rough is easily recognized due to its distinctive mode of occurrence. Coated with a white clay-like matrix, which fills the pits of heavily corroded surfaces, this clay-like material also appears to be included in many stones with irregular cavities just beneath the crystal surfaces. So tenaciously does it cling to the skin that hydrofluoric acid is required for its removal.

Kashmir sapphires contain solid inclusions of a number of types, but these are generally small, requiring magnifications of up to x to resolve their morphology. Most distinctive are the small, slightly corroded, colorless crystals of zircon. Commonly adhering to these are tiny black crystals of uraninite. Uraninite also occurs alone, typically with radiating stress fractures.

How to Sieve for Gemstones - Sapphires and Zircon - Liz Kreate

Occurring with the sapphires are dark green and brown prisms of tourmaline. These may be found growing right up against the sapphire and are occasionally included within the gem itself. Euhedral allanite crystals have also been encountered, as well as long needles of pargasite amphibole. Specimens examined by the author have also displayed inclusions of what appears to be mica.

Unidentified brown crystals of large size have been seen by the author in one specimen. Among the most distinctive inclusions of the Kashmir sapphires are the negative crystal guests. These tend to occur in patterns and in many cases contain small black crystals growing within. These black crystals are prismatic in habit and may possibly be tourmaline. The negative crystals containing black crystals within represent the most distinctive inclusion feature of the Kashmir sapphires examined by the author.

Due to the irregular distribution of color in Kashmir rough, cut stones will also often display strong color zoning, similar to Sri Lankan material. The exsolved rutile of Kashmir sapphires differs from that of Burma and Sri Lankan stones in terms of the size of the crystals. Many appear as tiny dots in snowflake patterns, and magnification of 40x or more is often required to resolve individual crystals.

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Due to its extremely fine nature, Kashmir rutile provides subtle light scattering without materially affecting transparency, giving these gems their velvety appearance. This haziness is present in virtually every piece examined by the author, but is not the sole province of the Kashmir stone. Sapphires from Sri Lanka, Thailand especially Kanchanaburi and Pailin may also exhibit a certain milkiness, making confusion a real possibility. Kashmir is not the only locality in India producing corundum. Other sources exist, but are of lesser importance in world markets, due to the lower qualities of production.

For many years India has been the world's biggest supplier of low-end ruby cabochons and star rubies. These localities include:. Andhra Pradesh. Low-quality ruby including stars has been reported from a number of areas in Andhra Pradesh state. Facet-grade ruby has been reported from an unknown locality in Bihar.

Kangayam Tamil Nadu. Facet-grade ruby occurs in the Kangayam area of the state of Tamil Nadu, of which Madras is the capital. Stones from this area are of a reddish color with a slight darkish tint, but are generally heavily included. This source also produces star rubies. Karnataka including Mysore. Another important ruby source in India. Gems come mainly from the Channa-Patna area, but lack transparency and so are suitable only for cabochons and beads.

The Indian star rubies are generally heavily included, and so of poor color and transparency. They do possess sharp stars; however due to the lack of transparency the color is poor, and so they are usually but a few dollars per carat, or less. While such material is a staple of the low-end gem trade, today India also produces some better material. Photo: Royal Ontario Museum. In the early s, important gem strikes were made in Orissa, eastern India.

These included both ruby and sapphire. A few gemstones are used as gems in the crystal or other form in which they are found. Most however, are cut and polished for usage as jewelry. The picture to the left is of a rural, commercial cutting operation in Thailand. This small factory cuts thousands of carats of sapphire annually. The two main classifications are stones cut as smooth, dome shaped stones called cabochons , and stones which are cut with a faceting machine by polishing small flat windows called facets at regular intervals at exact angles.

Stones which are opaque or semi-opaque such as opal , turquoise , variscite , etc. These gems are designed to show the stone's color or surface properties as in opal and star sapphires. Grinding wheels and polishing agents are used to grind, shape and polish the smooth dome shape of the stones. Gems which are transparent are normally faceted, a method which shows the optical properties of the stone's interior to its best advantage by maximizing reflected light which is perceived by the viewer as sparkle. There are many commonly used shapes for faceted stones. The facets must be cut at the proper angles, which varies depending on the optical properties of the gem.

If the angles are too steep or too shallow, the light will pass through and not be reflected back toward the viewer. The faceting machine is used to hold the stone onto a flat lap for cutting and polishing the flat facets. The color of any material is due to the nature of light itself. Daylight, often called white light, is all of the colors of the spectrum combined. When light strikes a material, most of the light is absorbed while a smaller amount of a particular frequency or wavelength is reflected.

The part that is reflected reaches the eye as the perceived color. A ruby appears red because it absorbs all the other colors of white light, while reflecting the red. A material which is mostly the same can exhibit different colors. For example, ruby and sapphire have the same primary chemical composition both are corundum but exhibit different colors because of impurities. Even the same named gemstone can occur in many different colors: sapphires show different shades of blue and pink and "fancy sapphires" exhibit a whole range of other colors from yellow to orange-pink, the latter called " padparadscha sapphire ".

This difference in color is based on the atomic structure of the stone. Although the different stones formally have the same chemical composition and structure, they are not exactly the same. Every now and then an atom is replaced by a completely different atom, sometimes as few as one in a million atoms.

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These so-called impurities are sufficient to absorb certain colors and leave the other colors unaffected. For example, beryl , which is colorless in its pure mineral form, becomes emerald with chromium impurities. If manganese is added instead of chromium , beryl becomes pink morganite. With iron, it becomes aquamarine. Some gemstone treatments make use of the fact that these impurities can be "manipulated", thus changing the color of the gem. Gemstones are often treated to enhance the color or clarity of the stone. Depending on the type and extent of treatment, they can affect the value of the stone.

Some treatments are used widely because the resulting gem is stable, while others are not accepted most commonly because the gem color is unstable and may revert to the original tone.

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Heat can improve gemstone color or clarity. The heating process has been well known to gem miners and cutters for centuries, and in many stone types heating is a common practice. Aquamarine is often heated to remove yellow tones, or to change green colors into the more desirable blue, or enhance its existing blue color to a purer blue. When jewelry containing diamonds is heated for repairs the diamond should be protected with boric acid ; otherwise the diamond which is pure carbon could be burned on the surface or even burned completely up.

When jewelry containing sapphires or rubies is heated, those stones should not be coated with boracic acid which can etch the surface or any other substance. They do not have to be protected from burning, like a diamond although the stones do need to be protected from heat stress fracture by immersing the part of the jewelry with stones in water when metal parts are heated. Virtually all blue topaz , both the lighter and the darker blue shades such as "London" blue, has been irradiated to change the color from white to blue.

Most greened quartz Oro Verde is also irradiated to achieve the yellow-green color. Diamonds are irradiated to produce fancy-color diamonds which occur naturally, though rarely in gem quality. Emeralds containing natural fissures are sometimes filled with wax or oil to disguise them. This wax or oil is also colored to make the emerald appear of better color as well as clarity. Turquoise is also commonly treated in a similar manner. Fracture filling has been in use with different gemstones such as diamonds, emeralds and sapphires.


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  • In "glass filled rubies" received publicity. Such treatments are fairly easy to detect. Synthetic gems are physically, optically and chemically identical to the natural stone, but are created in controlled conditions in a laboratory. Examples of simulated or imitation stones include cubic zirconia , composed of zirconium oxide and simulated moissanite , which are both diamond simulants.

    The imitations copy the look and color of the real stone but possess neither their chemical nor physical characteristics. Open Menu. Search What are you looking for? Mine Kings Monday About the Show. The Latest. The Latest Close. Follow loading They come at a cost. So it's no wonder why the mine kings are so determined to find one. News Massive Infrastructure Projects Are Failing At Unprecedented Rates Big fossil-fuel, mining, hydroelectric, and other "mega projects" are struggling thanks to competition from newer, cleaner technologies and a firestorm of market and civil forces.

    Follow Video Searching For The Rare Black Opal After investing a lot of time and money into finding a rare black opal, these mine kings are determined to sift through kilos of rocks to find it. A renowned gem hunter and an Aussie miner are waiting anxiously to find out if one the gems they brought back is declared 'padparadscha' an extremely rare type of sapphire. Madagascar is one of the few places in the world where a single mine can produce sapphires of every colour of the rainbow.

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